State Issues: News from the State Capitols

Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking. Visit the 2016 Legislation Tracking page and click on your state to get the latest updates on state bills monitored by the AKC.

Arizona House Bill 2127 was stricken in the Senate and replaced with a bill that would prevent dog racing in the state after December 31, 2016. “Dog racing” is so broadly defined in current law that it would apply to lure coursing. An amendment was added in the Senate at the AKC’s request to ensure lure coursing and similar events remain legal in the state.  The bill is pending in a joint conference committee. Read more about this amendment.

California — Current law imposes certain penalties on those who are responsible for the injury or death of a service animal while it is working. Assembly Bill 1824 would apply those same penalties and add damages related to loss incurred by the service dog owner specifically related to the animal’s inability to perform its tasks, even if the animal is not working when the injury or death occurs. The bill is pending consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1825 would remove the provision in current law which deems dogs seized as part of a dog fighting ring as vicious, and instead would consider them “potentially dangerous”. The measure has been assigned to the Local Government Committee.

CaliforniaHouse Resolution 28 calls on the Superintendent of Public Education and local school districts to ensure that humane education is part of the core curriculum and to work with local nonprofit organizations to provide humane education to all students. The measure has been assigned to the Education Committee but not yet scheduled for a hearing.

CaliforniaSenate Bill 945 would establish standards of care for pet boarding facilities, defined by the bill as “any lot, building, structure, enclosure or other premises whereupon two or more dogs, cats or other pets in any combination are boarded for compensation.” The bill establishes care requirements, sets standards for primary and temporary enclosures, and provides for certain recordkeeping. Read AKC’s informational alert on the issue here.

Connecticut House Bill 5344 seeks to permit the use of advocates in criminal or civil animal cruelty proceedings. Amendments made by the Connecticut House prior to passage addressed a number of AKC concerns with the proposal, reducing the likelihood that the bill would impact the legal status of animals in Connecticut. The bill is now in the Senate. The 2016 legislative session is expected to adjourn in early May.

Connecticut HB 5443 would make it illegal for insurance companies to cancel, refuse to renew or establish minimum premiums for homeowners or tenants insurance policies based solely on the breed of dog owned by the insured or the applicant. The measure received a favorable report by the Joint Insurance and Real Estate Committee.

Connecticut The Task Force on Humane Treatment of Animals in Municipal & Regional Shelters was established in 2015, pursuant to SB 351 for the purpose of researching and addressing issues regarding the welfare of animals in shelters in CT. The task force was to disband upon submission of their final report or January 1, 2016, whichever came later. Late in 2015, the task force proposed an initiative to make the task force permanent and dramatically expand their mission to include abuse registries, mandatory spay/neuter, and breeder licenses. In January, a representative of the Connecticut Federation testified against breeder licenses, and this proposal has been dropped. However, the task force remains in effect, and the other proposals may come forward in the near future.

ConnecticutRaised Senate Bill 228 originally allowed for courts to award additional damages for the loss of companionship when a companion animal has been intentionally injured or killed. Courts could consider length of ownership and the disposition or temperament of the animal in determining damages. However, constituent reports indicate that the non-economic damages provisions have been removed from the bill, and the bill now seeks to extend the term of the state’s humane task force to 2018. The Connecticut General Assembly is expected to adjourn in early May. AKC will provide additional information on this bill as developments are formalized.

Delaware — House Bill 296 would name the Golden Retriever as the State Dog.  The AKC and Golden Retriever Club of America both support this bill, which recognizes the dog’s excellent temperament and many roles they provide to society.  The designation will last for one year.  HB 296 unanimously passed the House on April 21, and is pending committee assignment in the Senate.

FloridaHB 329 died on the second reading calendar. It would have made it a misdemeanor to intentionally confine an animal in an unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of the animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, physical injury or death. AKC GR worked with the Florida Federation of Dog Clubs to try and secure appropriate amendments to protect responsible dog owners not putting dogs in danger.

Illinois — House Resolution 1144 recognizes May 1, 2016 as National Purebred Dog Day in Illinois.  The resolution celebrates the invaluable roles that dogs play and recognizes that purebreds were selected and developed to perform very specific purposes.  The resolution, which was brought forward by the AKC’s Illinois federation and is strongly supported by the AKC, has been referred to the House Rules Committee.

Illinois — House Bill 4443 would make several changes to the laws regarding those charged with cruelty and whose animals are seized.  The changes include requiring peace officers to arrest without a warrant anyone who violates the state’s cruelty laws and granting civil immunity for those caring for the seized animals “unless the act is the result of willful or wanton misconduct.”  The bill was pulled from the Agriculture Committee and reassigned to the House Rules Committee and at this time is not expected to move any further this year.  AKC and its Illinois federation have been communicating the numerous concerns with this bill to the legislators, and continue to monitor it closely.  Read more about this legislation.

Illinois House Bill 5004 as introduced would only allow veterinarians to debark a dog if it is medically necessary to treat an illness, disease, or injury or correct a congenital abnormality that is causing harm or pain. An amendment has been filed to simply state the only veterinarians may debark a dog, and anyone selling a dog or cat must disclose that the dog has been debarked. The bill was sent to the House Rules Committee.

Illinois Senate Bill 2847 would further streamline procedures by which an owner suspected of cruelty may permanently lose their dogs even before a trial begins. The bill was held in the Senate Judiciary Committee and is not expected to advance this year.  AKC and its Illinois federation continue to closely monitor this bill. Read more about this bill and AKC’s concerns.

Illinois Senate Bill 3129 would allow officers or employees who had custody or control of a law enforcement, service or search and rescue dog the option to keep the dog after its retirement from service. It unanimously passed the Senate and is pending in the House Rules Committee. AKC supports this bill and thanks the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners, the AKC’s state federation, for its work in bringing this bill forward. Read AKC’s blog for more information on this legislation.

Iowa SF 502/HF 2416 as introduced would have created many new regulations for “commercial breeders”, which are currently defined as someone who has four or more intact dogs and receives any kind of consideration for breeding (including stud fees or a puppy back). The bills have been amended to create a new “Quality Assurance Council” that will be charged with reviewing applications from commercial breeders “who seek to receive a quality assurance certificate denoting the breeder as one of the leading commercial breeders” in Iowa. To qualify, the breeder must demonstrate “a long history of caring for dogs or cats in a manner than consistently exceeds the standards of care” required by both current state laws and the federal Animal Welfare Act. It is unclear exactly how council membership would be determined or how the measure would be implemented. AKC believes such a council should include multiple experts on animal husbandry and be representative of all who are impacted and licensed under the law, including representatives of kennel clubs and smaller-scale licensees as well as larger-scale breeders. AKC GR is working closely with local club members and breeders to address concerns and provide more positive, effective solutions. Read more about this legislation.

KentuckyHouse Bill 428, which, among other provisions, clarifies the definition of dog fighting, has been signed by the governor. Members of AKC clubs, the Kentucky Houndsman Association, and dog owners in the state worked diligently to ensure that this measure would protect dogs without creating unintended consequences for owners of hunting and herding dogs and livestock guardian animals.

Maryland House Bill 1113 would require pet stores and dealers to only obtain dogs from breeders who are licensed by the USDA and have favorable inspection reports. The AKC is concerned with the legislative findings for the bill, which use the offensive term “puppy mill”, say that the retail sale of dogs is “immoral and inhumane”, and compare dogs to humans. The AKC requested that these findings be removed from the bill. The bill has passed both the House and Senate.

Massachusetts House Bill 1826 and Senate Bill 1103 seek to establish consumer protection laws to cover the purchase of puppies in Massachusetts, as well as expanded criteria for inspections and limitations on the purchase of animals for pet shop resale. These bills represent the work product of animal interest stakeholders from across the ideological spectrum. Both bills were considered by the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee in late January. HB 1826 was sent to study, while SB 1103 was reported favorably by the committee. Click here to read AKC GR’s alert on HB 1826 and SB 1103.

Massachusetts House Bill 1866 and Senate Bill 1085 seek to expand the parties that may enforce Chapter 140, Section 174E of the Commonwealth’s General Laws, which regulates the tethering of an animal, to include the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Animal Rescue League of Boston officers appointed under Chapter 22C, Section 57. Both bills were reported favorably by the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee. HB 1866 has been subsequently referred to the House Steering, Policy and Scheduling Committee, while SB 1085 has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee. Click here to read AKC GR’s alert on HB 1866 and SB 1085.

Massachusetts House Bill 3266 would expand licensing by for commercial breeding kennels by requiring them to obtain an annual license from the municipality where they are located. Municipalities would set the licensing fees, replace individual licenses with commercial breeder kennel licenses as applicable, and promulgate requirements for tagging individual dogs. HB 3266 would also empower the Commissioner of Agriculture to develop regulations for standards of care for licensed facilities and allow the Commissioner or an animal control officer to inspect those facilities at any time. On March 16, the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee sent HB 3266 to study.

Massachusetts — A new bill (currently Senate Docket No. 2459) filed by Senator Montigny seeks to require state licensing of all dog breeders. Breeders would be required to apply for a $100/year license, would have to undergo an inspection of their facilities prior to licensure and during each year thereafter, and would be required to display the license at their homes in a location visible to the public. The proposal also seeks to limit females to whelp one litter annually. The bill’s licensing provisions specifically do not apply to government agencies, nonprofit animal rescues, and humane societies, “permitted dog shows”, licensed pet shops, or commercial boarding or training kennels. AKC-GR will provide additional updates once this bill is formally introduced.

Michigan HB 4898 would regulate those who own at least 15 intact female dogs. As passed by the House, the bill clarifies that only those dogs that have previously been bred should be included in this definition. The House also removed a dog ownership limit present in previous versions. AKC GR supports the positive amendments and continues to work with the Michigan federation on this bill. HB 4898 is pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Michigan SB 566 would allow private citizens to remove children or animals from vehicles if they believe their health or safety is in immediate danger. The person must comply with several requirements, including calling the local fire or police department or 9-1-1 prior to entering, leaving a note on the person’s windshield, and remaining near the vehicle until first responders arrive. AKC GR and AKC’s Michigan federation are asking for amendments to protect the owner from liability if a dog bites or harms the person removing them from the vehicle, as well as recourse to protect the owner if the animal was in fact not in danger. The bill passed the Senate on February 23 with amendments and has been pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

Missouri HB 1811 would prohibit counties and municipalities from passing breed-specific laws and nullify current breed-specific laws. AKC GR and its state federation support this legislation, which has passed the House and is pending in the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee. Read more about this legislation being supported by the AKC and its Missouri federation.

New Jersey As introduced, Senate Bill 63 seeks to prohibit sight-unseen sale of dogs and cats; requires pet shops to sell dogs and cats only from shelters, pounds, kennels operating as a shelter or pound, or from an animal rescue organization; and repeals the state’s Pet Purchase Protection Act (consumer protection laws for puppy buyers). The Senate Economic Growth Committee passed an amended version of the bill, which was subsequently reassigned to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. AKC GR is working with a broad-based coalition of interested parties to oppose this bill. The companion bill, AB 2338, has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, but has not been scheduled for a hearing.

New Jersey — ACR-136 is a non-binding concurrent resolution that encourages municipalities to require that pet shops only sell cats or dogs obtained from shelters, pounds, or animal rescue organizations. The resolution’s findings cite false and misleading information and news media reports that impugn breeders of purpose bred dogs. AKC believes that owners should have the opportunity to choose the pet that best matches their lifestyle and recognizes that such pets can come from a variety of sources. AKC opposes the concept of this resolution.

New JerseyAssembly Bill 3645 seeks to impose certain requirements on pet shops as well as require the Department of Health to write rules to “establish proper breeding practices and standards of care for [bitches] and puppies at any facility used for the breeding or housing of dogs.” Further, those rules are required to specify that a bitch shall not be bred more than once every 365 days. AB 3645 was introduced on April 14 and has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

New York Assembly Bill 1679 would ban “debarking” unless it is deemed medically necessary to correct an injury, illness, or congenital defect. This bill passed the Assembly in 2015 but was held in the Senate. It has passed the Assembly again and has been pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee since January. Read more about this bill and how to contact the Senate committee.

New YorkAssembly Bill 1451 would require licensing, inspections and other regulations for pet grooming facilities. This includes complying with standards of care, record keeping, completing a training course, and consenting to inspections. For violations that would not impact a dog’s health and safety, a “cure period” may be permitted to allow the groomer to fix the issue before a fine is issued. It has passed the Assembly Economic Development and Rules Committees and is pending in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

New York Senate Bill 3850 would allow owners to take companion animals on Port Authority of New York and New Jersey public transportation during official states of emergency. The dog must be on a tether or leash or in an “appropriate container”. It only applies to owners who are evacuating the region affected by the emergency. The bill has passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions Committee. Read more about this bill and AKC’s support for this measure.

New York Senate Bill 423 would make it a crime to steal a pet from an owner’s or lawful custodian’s private property. The bill clearly defines pets as property and ensures that pet owners are entitled to the same protections as other property owners. The bill is pending a vote by the full Senate. Read more about how you can contact the Senate in support of this legislation.

South CarolinaHouse Bill 4120 seeks to require licensing and to establish standards for “commercial dog breeders”, defined as a “person or business that owns, has custody of, or maintains twenty or more female dogs over the age of six months that are capable of reproduction and kept primarily for the purpose of breeding and selling the offspring to a person, business, or pet store for resale as pets to the general public”, with certain exemptions. HB 4120 has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

South CarolinaSenate Bill 800 seeks to require licensing, fees, and inspections as a “Professional Dog Breeder” for persons who own or control “ten or more intact female adult dogs for the primary purpose of breeding and selling”. S.800 would establish extensive requirements for breeders and empower the Director of the Department of Health and Environmental Control or his/her designee to promulgate additional regulations. The home-based raising of puppies would not be feasible under the requirements of S.800. Inspections and unlimited re-inspections could be conducted by appointees with no training or certification, and such appointees' organizations would receive resulting fees and civil penalties of up to $5000 per day. Violations subject to these extreme penalties could include minor infractions such as the use of unapproved food storage receptacles. This bill would also expand animal cruelty laws applicable to all animals and establish penalties that would include imprisonment for up to five years and fines of up to $15,000. S. 800 has been referred to Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

South DakotaSB 157 seeks to provide additional regulations for commercial breeding operations, including clarifying when inspections of commercial breeding operations may occur, require dogs kept in such facilities be provided veterinary care reasonably deemed necessary, mandate that all primary enclosures feature solid flooring, and prohibit the stacking of primary enclosures. The bill was considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February 18 . Action on SB 157 has been deferred until a future date.

Tennessee — SB 2175 and HB 2303 would have required regulation, inspection, and fees for persons who own 16 or more intact adult female dogs or who sell 40 (originally 20) or more dogs in a calendar year. These bills left the door open for any person—potentially including individuals and representatives of organizations that oppose dog breeding—to be authorized to conduct inspections and unlimited re-inspections and to determine if violations are occurring. Any violation of the bill and of any rules written for its enforcement would have been subject to both criminal and civil penalties. Both bills were taken off notice in committee. Two attempts to attach similar language to unrelated bills were tabled. The Tennessee Federation of Dog Clubs, AKC clubs in the state, and constituent dog owners and breeders worked to educate their elected officials about the problematic provisions in this legislation.

Utah HB 132 failed to pass prior to session adjournment. The measure would have defined a commercial breeder as anyone with six or more breeding animals, who sells or gives away even one puppy. AKC GR worked with local clubs to educate legislators about the inappropriateness of this definition.

WashingtonHouse Bill 1018 would make changes to the state’s dangerous dog law preventing local governments from enacting breed-specific ordinances. The House Judiciary Committee amended the bill to allow jurisdictions with existing breed-specific ordinances to retain them if they meet certain criteria. The bill was referred to the Rules Committee for review prior to being set for a floor vote. AKC GR staff is working with local clubs and responsible dog owners to support this important legislation.

WashingtonHouse Bill 2644 would amend the law relating to animals seized in cruelty cases. Current law requires certain actions to be completed in business days. This legislation would adjust that to calendar days in order to expedite the judicial process.