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 seeks to create the “Alabama Dog and Cat Breeders Commission” with authority to license dog and cat breeders in the state, set standards for breeding, perform inspections and contract with “third party inspectors”, set licensing requirements and fees, and other functions.  Persons who possesses 11 or more adult intact female dogs or cats and who sell or offer to sell 20 or more dogs or cats in a year would be subject to licensing and regulation.  SB 17 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs.

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 not yet been assigned to committee. 

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 expects similar legislation to be introduced in the new session of the Massachusetts General Court.  

Michigan  As passed by the House in June 2016, HB 4353 would have allowed shelters to weigh prior animal cruelty convictions prior to allowing someone to purchase a dog from an animal shelter.  A last-minute amendment on the Senate floor on December 14 incorporated portions of other bills that will regulate those who own 15 intact females that have previously been bred.   This amendment included many positive changes requested by the AKC, the Michigan Association for Pure-Bred Dogs, and other groups, including reasonable regulations for all dogs imported into the state, including shelters and rescues.  AKC remains concerned, however, with the definition of “large scale dog breeding kennel”.  This requires state inspectors to first determine how many intact females are on the property and whether or not they have been bred before determining if they must comply with the other regulations outlined in the proposal.  This will prove difficult to enforce.   The bill was signed by the lieutenant governor.

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). After several significant amendments, the bill preserves the state’s consumer protection law and no longer restricts the sources of animals that pet stores may sell. AKC remains concerned with potential consequences of the bill on breeders in New Jersey.  SB 63 has passed in the State Senate and the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, and has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  A companion bill, AB 2338, now has the same updated provisions as SB 63 and has also been referred to Assembly Appropriations.  AKC GR continues to work with a broad-based coalition of interested parties to address the remaining problematic provisions in the bill.

New Jersey — ACR-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 Jersey — Assembly 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.

New JerseySenate Bill 1013 seeks to regulate tethering, confinement, and proper shelter for dogs. The AKC is concerned that parts of S.1013 are overly vague, burdensome, and impractical; may be potentially harmful to dogs that are travelling or at dog shows; and fail to recognize that responsible, expert owners know what is best for their dogs and have the best interests of their dogs at heart.  The bill was scheduled to be considered by the Senate Economic Growth Committee on September 29, 2016, however no action has been taken on the bill.   Click here to read more about S.1013.  

New Jersey – One of several bills currently pending in New Jersey that seek to deal with costs for care for dogs seized pursuant to a criminal proceeding or suspected cruel treatment, SB 2454, as originally 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.  The bill also failed to prevent permanent alteration of seized dogs during pendency of a case, and did not protect the rights of non-possessory co-owners. An amended version of the bill 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.  The bill passed the Senate and is currently pending in the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. 

Ohio  Senate Bill 331 regulates pet stores and ensure that the breeders who sell to pet stores are held to a certain standard. The bill also preempts local laws being passed that would require Ohio stores to sell dogs only from shelters or rescues. As introduced, the bill also would have changed the definition of “high volume breeder” to someone who owns four intact adult dogs. The AKC and other groups opposed to this definition offered an amendment that would ensure the definition stays as it is in current law. 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, protects the health of dogs by providing standards for breeders selling to pet stores, and protects consumer choice. SB 331 also increases the budget for the commercial dog kennel program to help enforce current laws in the state.  The bill was combined into an omnibus bill comprising of several issues and was signed by the governor.   Read more about Senate Bill 331.

South CarolinaHouse 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.  H 3009 has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

South CarolinaHouse 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.  H 3069 has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

South CarolinaHouse Bill 3243 seeks to increase penalties associated with mistreatment of police dogs, police horses, and service dogs.  H 3243 has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.