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.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 797, which would allow private citizens to remove a companion animal from a vehicle if they believe that the animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm, has passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. AKC GR is encouraging residents to contact the Senate and ask for modifications that will protect responsible dog owners whose pets were not in danger. Read more about AB 797.

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 Assembly is currently considering amendments made to AB 1824 by the Senate. 

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 was signed into law by Governor Brown in July.

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 four 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 establishes certain recordkeeping requirements. The Senate is currently considering amendments by to SB 945 by the Assembly. 

DelawareHouse Bill 427 amends the state’s dangerous dog laws to state that no dog may be considered dangerous or potentially dangerous based solely on the dog’s “breed or perceived breed.”  AKC is supporting this bill, which passed the House on June 29 and is pending committee assignment in the Senate.

IllinoisSenate 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. 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. The bill was signed on August 15 and will go into effect in January 2017.

MassachusettsSB 2390 (formerly SB 2370) has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee. The latest version of the bill includes expanded restrictions on dog breeders, establishes fines for anyone who fails to license their kennel unless they forfeit ownership and control of their dogs, and empowers the Department of Agricultural Resources to create rules and regulations for personal kennels with a few as eight intact female dogs.  The AKC continues to work with local fanciers in opposition to SB 2390.  Click here to read AKC GR’s alert on SB 2390.  

MassachusettsHouse 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 certain Animal Rescue League of Boston officers.Both bills were reported favorably by the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee. HB 1866 has referred to the House Steering, Policy and Scheduling Committee. SB 1085 has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee. Click here to read AKC GR’s alert on HB 1866 and SB 1085.

MassachusettsHouse Bill 3266 would expand licensing 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— Senate Docket No. 2459 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.

MichiganHB 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 to address remaining questions and concerns on this bill. HB 4898 has been pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee since March.

MichiganSB 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.

New Jersey—As introduced, Senate Bill 63 sought to prohibit sight-unseen sale of dogs and cats; required 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 repealed the state’s Pet Purchase Protection Act (consumer protection laws for puppy buyers). Now significantly amended, the bill preserves the state’s consumer protection law and allows existing pet stores to sell dogs sourced from breeders. SB 63 has been passed by the State Senate and has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.  AKC GR continues to work with a broad-based coalition of interested parties to address the remaining problematic provisions in the bill. A companion bill, AB 2338, has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, but has not been scheduled for a hearing.

New JerseyACR-136 is a non-binding 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 to require the Department of Health to issue 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.

Ohio Senate Bill 331 would regulate pet stores in the state and ensure that the breeders who sell to pet stores are held to a certain standard. The bill also preempts local laws being passed around the state that would only allow the stores to sell dogs from shelters or rescues. As introduced, the bill would have changed the definition of “high volume breeder” to someone who owns four intact adult dogs. The AKC and other interest groups opposed this definition and the sponsor offered an amendment that would ensure the definition stays as it is in current law, which defines those who produce at least 9 litters of puppies and sell more than 60 dogs in a year as high volume breeders. The AKC supports the amended bill, which creates a uniform policy for pet stores in Ohio, ensures that the current laws regarding high volume breeders remain as written, and protects the health of dogs by providing standards for breeders selling to pet stores. It also protects consumer choice by allowing individuals to choose the right pet from the source they believe is best for their family. The bill passed the Senate and is expected to be considered by the House when they return from summer recess. AKC continues to work with a broad coalition of interest groups on these measures.Read more about Senate Bill 331.