State Issues: News from the State Capitols

Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking. Visit the 2017 Legislation Tracking page and click on your state to get the latest updates on state bills monitored by the AKC.

AlabamaSenate Bill 17 /House Bill 45 would create the “Alabama Dog and Cat Breeders Commission” with authority to license, regulate, and inspect dog and cat breeders who possess 11 or more adult female dogs or cats and who sell or offer to sell 20 or more dogs or cat per year.  It may also contract with “third party inspectors”, pay informants, and other functions. SB 17 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. HB 45 has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.

AlabamaSenate Bill 168, among other provisions, seeks to allow Class Five municipalities to establish civil penalties for violations of local animal control laws in an amount of up to $1,000 for any violation. It should be noted that criminal penalties are already established under state law for animal cruelty and neglect. SB 168 has been referred to the Senate committee on County and Municipal Government

Alabama — House Bill 91 would create a civil cause of action of wrongful injury or death of a companion or service animal when a caretaker of the animal, through negligence or reckless or willful misconduct, causes the serious injury or death of the animal.  It also would provide for the recovery of compensatory and punitive damages.  HB 91 is pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

Alabama —  House Bill 201 seeks to define “shelter” under existing animal cruelty laws.  HB 201 has been referred to the House of Representatives committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security

Alabama —  House Bill 202 seeks to limit tethering.  As written, this bill would prohibit an owner from safely securing a dog to a grooming table.  HB 202 has been referred to the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

California - Recently introduced Assembly Bill 485 seeks to require all dogs, cats, and rabbits offered for retail sale in California to be obtained solely from public or private animal shelters located in California and non-profit rescue groups.  As currently written, the bill will limit consumer choice, favor unregulated sources of pets over regulated sources, encourage international trafficking of dogs, and seriously impact small businesses.  The AKC, the California Federation of Dog Clubs, and key constituents are already working in opposition to this onerous bill. 

Connecticut – Proposed SB 293 would declare May 1 as Purebred Dog Day.  The bill has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Government Administration and Elections. 

Connecticut – Proposed HB 5617 would prohibit “the sale of puppies produced by out-of-state puppy mills in Connecticut pet stores.”  While the text is not yet available, it is expected this will be similar to bills seen throughout the country that seek to only allow pet stores to sell pets from shelters or rescues, thereby removing an opportunity for Connecticut residents to obtain a purebred dog from a licensed, regulated breeder.  The bill has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Environment.

FloridaSenate Bill 212 seeks to define and penalize “animal hoarding”.  The bill includes a vague provision that “keeping a large number of companion animals in overcrowded conditions” would be the felony crime of “animal hoarding”, punishable by imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.  SB 212 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice; Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice; Appropriations; and Rules.

FloridaSenate Bill 416 and House Bill 151 are related bills that seek to allow the use of therapy dogs in certain court proceedings. SB 416 is on the agenda of the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 21. HB has passed in two subcommittees and is now before the House Judiciary Committee. 

FloridaHouse Bill 515 seeks to direct animal shelters to take certain measures relating to the holding, treatment, and euthanasia of animals and to provide for declaratory or injunctive relief actions by individuals to compel compliance. HB 515 has been referred to the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.

FloridaHouse Bill 627 seeks to require person transporting dog in open areas of certain vehicles or trailers to secure dog and to preempt local regulation of transportation of dogs in vehicles.

Georgia House Bill 144 seeks to regulate the sale of dogs in pet stores, and dogs brought into the state for retail.  AKC supports the legislation as introduced.  The bill has passed House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.

Georgia House Bill 313 seeks to require a person who transfers ownership of a dogs that is entirely or partly of the “American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Chow Chow, Husky, Great Dane, Akita, Boxer, or Wolf Hybrid breed” to provide as part of the transaction an informational document on dog bite statistics that shall be created by the Department of Public Health.  HB 313 has not yet received a committee assignment.

Hawaii – HB 1516 would expand the cases in which a humane society may petition a court for the forfeiture of an animal.  This includes removing the requirement that the cases be criminal in nature and removing protections that are currently provided to defendants.  The bill was passed by the House Agriculture Committee on February 3.

Hawaii – HB 185 would create new licensing and oversight laws for anyone who provides or sells 25 or more puppies in a year, owns or harbors 20 or more intact female dogs or more than 30 intact dogs over the age of 6 months intended for breeding.  An amended version of HB 185 was passed by the House Agriculture Committee on February 3.

Kansas HB 2097 and SB 47 would amend the Kansas Pet Animal Act to further regulate rescues and shelters.  AKC has expressed concern that it would also regulate anyone who has “all or part of three or more litters” on their property.  Those who meet this vague definition would be required to submit to unannounced inspections and to be regulated the same as high volume commercial kennels.  AKC has requested amendments to address this concern. Senate Bill 47 has passed committee with amendments, and AKC GR is currently reviewing these changes.

MarylandHB 334 would significantly expand those who must apply for a local kennel license to include those who keep 8 or more unspayed females over the age of 6 months for the purpose of breeding.  It will be incumbent on the dog owner to prove they are not keeping dogs for this purpose.  Higher license fees are also expected in order for the counties to keep up with licensing and enforcement.  The bill was considered by the House Environment and Transportation Committee on February 7. 

Maryland SB 444 would make it a misdemeanor for someone to misrepresent a dog as a service dog in order to obtain special privileges.  AKC supports this bill, which was considered by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 15.

Massachusetts  SB 2390 (formerly SB 2370) includes expanded restrictions on dog breeders, establishes fines for anyone who fails to license their kennel or requires them to relinquish 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.  It has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee. Click here to read AKC GR’s alert on SB 2390.  

Massachusetts  House Bill 1866 and Senate Bill 1085 (2015-2016) 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 been 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.  AKC expects similar legislation to be introduced in the new session of the Massachusetts General Court.  

Massachusetts — House Bill 3266 (2015-2016) 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.  AKC expects similar legislation to be introduced in the new session of the Massachusetts General Court.  

Massachusetts — Senate Docket No. 2459 (2015-2016) 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.  AKC expects similar legislation to be introduced in the new session of the Massachusetts General Court.  

MontanaHB 364 seeks to penalize the misrepresentation of a service animal.  The House Human Services Committee, to which this bill is assigned, did not take action on February 13. 

New Jersey  As introduced, Senate Bill 63 sought to prohibit the sight-unseen sale of dogs and cats; required pet shops to sell dogs and cats only from shelters, pounds, or an animal rescue organization; and repealed the state’s Pet Purchase Protection Act. The amended bill preserves the state’s consumer protection law and no longer restricts the sources of animals that pet stores may sell. However, AKC remains concerned with potential consequences on those who may sell a pet in the state. SB 63 has passed the Senate, and along with its companion AB 2338, await Assembly floor action. AKC GR continues to work with a broad-based coalition of interested groups to amend or defeat the remaining problematic provisions in the bill.

New JerseySB 1640 would ban even temporary tethering, including the use of a grooming table, or tethering by disabled persons who rely on the ability to humanely tether their animals at night.  An amended version of the bill was passed by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, and additional amendments are expected.   

New JerseyAB 3645 seeks to impose certain requirements on pet shops and 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 has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, but no action has been taken. 

New JerseySB 2454 as introduced, sought to impose bond for care requirements for those charged with, but not convicted of, subjecting animals to criminal treatment.  Defendants unable to pay would have been subject to forfeiture of their property regardless of the final results of the case.  It also did not prevent permanent alteration of seized dogs during a case, and did not protect the rights of non-possessory co-owners. As amended, it requires a court to determine a defendant’s ability to pay prior to setting costs, but does not address AKC’s concerns about permanent alteration and the property interests of non-possessory co-owners.  It passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

New York – SB 144 seeks to establish “licensing and educational standards” for those providing “basic obedience courses to dogs and their owners.”  The bill does not provide details on what the licensing and standards would entail.  This bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee, but no hearing has been scheduled.  Nassau County is also considering a measure to regulate dog trainers, but it also has not been scheduled for any public hearing or vote.  

North Dakota – SB 2297 would regulate commercial dog breeders, defined as any person that possesses or maintains in a year five or more intact female dogs at one time for the primary purpose of breeding and selling the offspring.  Those who meet the definition would have to be licensed, undergo inspections, meet recordkeeping requirements, and meet operational requirements.  The bill was scheduled to be heard by the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday, February 9. 

South Carolina —  Senate Bill 3 / House Bill 3667 seek to provide that the custodian of an animal impounded due to alleged criminal or civil violations by its owner may petition the court to require the owner to pay 30 days’ costs of care for the animal, and to replenish those funds every 30 days, or forfeit ownership of the animal.  Only the unexpended funds would be refunded if the person is acquitted or charged are dropped. S 3 has been referred to Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. H 3668 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. 

South Carolina — House Bill 3009 seeks to license and regulate as a “commercial dog breeder” any person who owns 20 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, with certain exemptions.  The House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs has deferred action on this legislation.

South Carolina — House Bill 3069 seeks to regulate and certify “commercial kennel operators” and “certified animal caretakers”, which could include owners and certain employees of boarding kennels and other pet care businesses.  The House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs did not take action on this bill on February 8.

South CarolinaHouse Bill 3272, among other provisions, seeks to make it unlawful to hunt deer with a dog unless on a fenced property of more than 1,000 acres; provides that the owner of a deer hunting dog that enters onto private property without the owner’s permission must pay the person who “restrains” the dog $50; and provides for escalating civil penalties and damages equal to one-fifth of the current assessed value of the landowner's entire property.  H 3272 has been referred to House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

Tennessee - SB 282/HB 265 seek to register “Commercial Dog Breeders”, defined as any person who, during a 12-month period, possesses or maintains ten or more intact female adult dogs for the primary purpose of selling their offspring as household pets.  SB 282 has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture, Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

TennesseeSenate Bill 519/House Bill 568 seek to enact consumer protection provisions for persons who purchase pets from retail pet stores. SB 519 has been referred to the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee. HB 568 has been referred to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

Washington – SB 5094 would prevent breed-specific laws from being enacted in the state.  The AKC is supporting this measure, which would make Washington the 18th state to enact this type of law to protect responsible dog owners and innocent dogs.  The bill has been considered by the Senate Local Government Committee.