State Issues: News from the State Capitols

Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking. Visit the 2018 Legislation Tracking page and click on your state to get the latest updates on state bills monitored by the AKC. 

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1762 -- This bill would allow visitors to all California state parks to bring animals when they visit the parks. Animals would be permitted in the parks and recreational areas within the parks, including hiking trails, unless the animal’s presence causes a “substantial” threat to health and safety, public nuisance or a threat to natural or cultural resources or improvements in the park. The bill cannot be heard until Feb. 4, and AKC GR is monitoring the legislation. This legislation has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1776 -- This bill authorizes specified emergency medical personnel to transport a police dog injured in the line of duty to an appropriate veterinary care facility. The bill also includes search and rescue dogs, passive alert dogs, and service dogs in its definition of injured dogs that can be transported. The bill also removed most civil liabilities from both emergency medical personnel and their agencies for harm incurred during transport.  The bill cannot be heard until Feb. 4, and AKC GR is monitoring the legislation. This bill has been referred to the Committee on Health and the Committee on Judiciary.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1780 -- This bill would require the State Public Health Officer to investigate reports of outbreaks of communicable diseases caused by, or purported to be caused by, contact with dogs or cats that have been imported from out of the state. The bill would authorize the officer to prohibit the importation of these animals if they pose a risk of any communicable disease dangerous to animals or individuals. The bill would impose a civil penalty for violators.  The bill will not be heard until Feb. 4, and AKC GR is monitoring the legislation. This bill has been referred to the Committee on Health.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1865 -- This bill would change existing law that makes it an infraction or misdemeanor for an owner to permit any dog to injure or kill a guide, signal or service dog that is performing the duties for which it is trained. This bill would also make the crimes applicable if the dog is enrolled in any training school or program. This bill would also make anyone convicted of the two crimes (infraction or misdemeanor) responsible for any medical or medical-related expenses and loss of wages incurred by the person using the guide, signal or service dog.  This legislation has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife.

CaliforniaSenate Bill 911 – This bill would make the intentional injury or death of a police dog or police horse a felony and increase the penalties for the crime.  The bill has been referred to the Rules Committee. 

California — After a 22-month process, the California Fish and Game Commission unanimously voted on Dec. 6, 2017, to amend state code by deleting language that prohibits the use of global positioning system (GPS) collars and treeing switches on dogs used to hunt pigs and deer. The commission initially moved to amend the code in April 2016, but delayed that move after opponents filed a lawsuit contending the proposed code changes violated California environmental law. The commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife both determined the changes would have little effect on the environment. The new regulations will take effect in April 2018.

ColoradoHouse Bill 18-1126 would prohibit homeowners associations from prohibiting residents from keeping dogs based solely on the dog’s breed, weight, or size.  However, the bill does allow HOAs to regulate the number of dogs each residence may keep.  AKC GR and its Colorado federation are reaching out to the sponsor to express support for the portion banning discrimination, but requesting that the portion limiting dog ownership be removed.  The House Local Government Committee will consider the bill on February 14.  

FloridaHB 153/SB 132, among other provisions, would recognize the reduction in shelter populations, extend regulations to additional rescue entities, prohibit the importation of shelter animals into the state with certain exceptions during declared emergencies and natural disasters, and provide penalties which would include requiring violators to be regulated as pet shops and pet dealers. HB 153 has been referred to the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee.

FloridaHB 249/SB 1356 would require that an animal shelter may not euthanize an animal if a rescue organization has indicated it will take custody of the animal, with certain exceptions. HB 249 has been referred to the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.

FloridaHB 473/SB 952 would authorize a court to prohibit certain offenders from owning or having contact with animals and revise penalties. HB 473 has been reported favorably by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and is now in the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

Florida –  HB 763/SB 982 would establish within the Department of Law Enforcement a fund to provide funds for up to $1500 a year for veterinary care for a retired law enforcement dog, require the department to contract with a not for profit organization to administer the program; and appropriate $300,000 in funds per year. HB 763 has been referred to the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. SB 982 has been referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Florida –  HB 823/SB 1576 would require certain sheltering agencies to adopt written policies and procedures to ensure that every reasonable effort is made to quickly and reliably return owned animals to their owners. HB 823 has been referred to the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee.

FloridaHB 907/SB 1376 would prohibit certain persons from leaving a domestic companion animal or service animal outdoors and unattended when an area is under an evacuation order and would specify requirements for securing an animal if it cannot be evacuated with the owner. HB 907 has been referred to the House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee

Florida –  HB 1257/SB 1488 would provide that a person who is found liable for negligently, recklessly, indifferently, or intentionally causing serious injury to or the death of a domestic companion animal, police animal, or service animal is accountable to the owner of such animal for damages including, but not limited to, monetary or replacement value of the animal; veterinary expenses incurred in treating the animal; reimbursement of animal training expenses, including, but not limited to, the cost of any specialized training for police animals and service animals;  burial or cremation expenses; loss of breeding potential of the animal; loss of companionship; and punitive damages if the person is found liable for recklessly, indifferently, or intentionally causing the serious injury to or death of the animal.

FloridaHB 1433 would provide that a positive test result for anabolic steroids in a racing greyhound following a race is a violation, with certain exceptions; require the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering to adopt rules for greyhound safety, health, specific feeding and welfare requirements; and preempt the regulation of racing greyhounds to the state.  HB 463, SB 674, and SB 1774 are related bills. 

FloridaHB 1443/SB 1006, among other provisions, would direct the Division of Emergency Management to include specified persons in state emergency management plans and public awareness programs, define "comfort animals”, authorize certain persons to bring a service animal or comfort animal to a special needs shelter, and require the development of informational materials regarding the acceptance of pets, service animals, and comfort animals at shelters.  SB 1006 has been referred to the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security Committee.

FloridaSB 86 would establish a vague definition of “hoarding”, prohibit animal hoarding, require the court to order seizure of animal upon probable cause that hoarding is occurring, and categorize animal hoarding as felony third degree animal cruelty.  SB 86 has been referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Illinois – House Bill 4191 / Senate Bill 2277 would allow private citizens to remove dogs from cars if the person has a “good faith belief” that the dog is imminent danger in a locked car. Prior to removing the animal, the person must first call 9-1-1, law enforcement, or the fire department. Once the dog is removed, a note must be left on the windshield that includes their contact information, the reason they entered the vehicle and removed the animal, the location of the animal, and verification that authorities were notified. A person is exempt from liability unless their actions are considered reckless or willful misconduct. AKC GR and its Illinois federation are proposing amendments to address remaining concerns with these bills, which are pending committee assignment.

Illinois – Senate Bill 2280 would prohibit pet stores in Will and DuPage Counties from selling dogs, cats or rabbits; unless they are sourced from a rescue or shelter. AKC is concerned with this measure, which removes consumer protection and limits the opportunity for local residents to purchase the dog of their choice.  The bill is pending committee assignment.

Indiana – House Bill 1386 would significantly change the state’s commercial breeder laws, by lowering the threshold to apply to all who own 8 or more intact females over 1 year of age, instead of 20 as is current law.  The bill also eliminates the exemption for hunting kennels and those who breed service animals.  Those who meet the definition must comply with numerous new requirements for their kennels and have an unannounced inspection at least once per year.  The bill would also limit ownership to 50 intact females, regardless of the number of owners or staff.  AKC GR and its Indiana federation are closely monitoring this bill and have reached out to the House Commerce, Small Business, and Economic Development Committee, where the bill is currently assigned. 

IowaHouse File 2001 provides circumstances where a landlord may require a person with a disability to remove the person’s service or assistance animal from the premises.  AKC is supporting the portion of the bill that makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly misrepresent an animal as a service or assistance animals by creating a false document, falsely stating the animal is a service or assistance animal, and fitting the animal with a service dog vest/sign/harness when it is not a service animal.  The bill is being considered by the House Commerce Committee on January 24 and 25. 

KansasHouse Bill 2477 makes amendments to the state’s pet animal act, which currently regulates both hobby and commercial breeders.  Amendments include increasing license fees, including those for hobby breeders, grooming and boarding kennels, and animal shelters.  A hobby breeder (which is someone who under current law has a premises where 3, 4, or 5 litters are produced for sale, and fewer than 30 animals are sold in a year) and boarding/grooming kennel would now be required to pay $250 for a license as opposed to $95.  If a person falls into more than one category, they will pay $50 for each additional license.  Amendments also include changing the license year end from June 30 to September 30.  This Kansas House Agriculture is considering the bill on January 30. 

MassachusettsHouse Bill 1080/ Senate Bill 1155 seek to expand restrictions on dog breeders, establish fines for anyone who fails to license their kennel or require them to relinquish ownership of their dogs, and empower the Department of Agricultural Resources to create regulations for those who own eight intact female dogs. The AKC has strong concerns about the bill and joined local dog owners and other organizations in testifying in opposition to these bills in the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee on October 17, 2017.  SB 1155 was reported favorably from the committee, and has been further assigned to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  HB1080 was retained by the committee, and amendments are expected. Read AKC’s legislative alert for more information on these bills.  Read AKC’s legislative alert for more information on these bills.

Massachusetts – House Bill 1078 shares the consumer protection provisions in HB 1080/SB 1155.  It also allows, but does not mandate, kennel inspections, and improves current law by providing for written citations explaining noncompliant issues and for a time period for the kennel to come into compliance.  It would also provide that kennel standards would apply to those with 10 or more sexually intact female dogs or cats between 1-8 years of age for the purpose of breeding and selling the offspring as household pets.  AKC’s testimony to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee on October 17, 2017, stated that the definition in this bill was preferable to HB1080/SB1155. Read more about this legislation.

Massachusetts - House Bill 1079 would increase the fines for cruelty to animals, with the increases designated toward a special account in the municipality where the violation occurred.  Those monies must be used solely for funding improvements to the local municipality’s animal shelter; or, if the municipality does not have an animal shelter, to be used at the municipality’s discretion, providing it benefits local groups dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and/or the promotion of the adoption of shelter animals.  The bill was considered by the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee on October 17, 2017. Read more about this legislation.

Massachusetts - House Bill 1084 is similar to, but has more reasonable provisions than, H.1080/S.1155.  It shares those bill’s consumer protection provisions.  It also provides for, but does not mandate, kennel inspections, and improves current law by providing for written citations or notices explaining noncompliant issues and for a time period for the kennel to come into compliance.  This bill would also empower the Department of Agricultural Resources to create rules for commercial and personal kennels, but provides that such standards would apply to those kennels with 10 or more sexually intact female dogs or cats between 1-8 years of age for the purpose of breeding and selling the offspring as household pets.  AKC’s testimony to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee on October 17, 2017, stated that the definition in this bill was preferable to that contained in House Bill 1080/Senate Bill 1155.

Massachusetts – House Bill 2419/Senate Bill 1159 feature many provisions, including increases in fines for violations of dog control laws and licensing and sales requirements.  These bills also feature a provision that restricts insurance companies that offer homeowners or renters insurance coverage from refusing to issue or renew, cancel or charge or impose an increased premium rate based in whole or in part on the breed of dog kept on the insured premises.  They were considered by the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee on October 17, 2017, which later approved both.  HB 2419 has since been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.  SB 1159 has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.  Read more about this legislation.

Massachusetts – House Bill 3024 would make it an unlawful practice for local or state administrative, legislative or regulatory bodies or instrumentalities to engage in discriminatory land use practices.  The definition of “discriminatory land use practice” specifically includes taking any action…the purpose or effect of which would make unavailable or deny housing accommodations for families or individuals…because a person possesses a trained guide dog as a consequence of blindness, hearing impairment, or other handicap.  AKC supports this bill, which was considered by the Joint Judiciary Committee on October 16, 2017. Read AKC’s legislative alert for more information.

Massachusetts - House Bill 3212 seeks to create consumer protections for pet store purchasers, mandates extensive shelter record keeping requirements, and prohibits local pet store sales bans.  AKC GR testified in support of this bill in the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee on October 17, 2017, which subsequently reported the bill favorably.  The bill is now under the cognizance of the House Ways and Means Committee. 

Massachusetts – Senate Bill 912 would protect access for service animal trainers and employees or volunteers with service animal training organizations.  AKC GR testified in support of this bill at the Joint Judiciary Committee hearing on October 16, 2017. Read AKC’s legislative alert for more information. 

Michigan – Senate Bill 741 would prohibit local governments from enacting or enforcing policies that regulate dogs based upon its breed or perceived breed.  AKC supports this bill, which is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

MississippiHB 386 and similar bill SB 2091 would authorize emergency medical technicians to transport law enforcement dogs injured in the line of duty to a veterinarian.  HB 386 has been referred to the House Judiciary B Committee.  SB 2091 has been referred to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.

MississippiSB 2172 would establish a first offense felony of aggravated abuse of a dog or cat, increase penalties, limit the number of counts that can be charged from a single incident, and establish reporting requirements. SB 2172 has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee.

MississippiSB 2185 would require a license from the Commissioner of Agriculture to operate as a pet dealer, kennel, stable, or animal shelter; establish annual fees of between $50 and $400 dollars; provide for inspections; and provide for the promulgation of rules and regulations.  SB 2185 has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Mississippi – SB 2232 would revise definitions in the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act and authorize a court to include the protection of pets in protection orders.  SB 2232 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Missouri – House Bill 1398 would prohibit municipalities from enacting breed-specific laws, and nullify any current breed-specific laws in the state.  AKC GR supports this bill, which is pending in the House Local Government Committee. 

Nebraska – Legislative Bill 893 would only allow pet stores to sell animals obtained from an animal control facility, animal shelter, or animal rescue.  AKC GR is working with local breeders to express concerns with this proposal, which is pending in the Agriculture Committee.  

New HampshireHouse Bill 1309 seeks to reinstitute microchip-related requirements on animal shelters.  Specifically, the bill requires animal shelter facilities to have a microchip scanner on premises, to maintain a file of recognized pet retrieval agencies, and to scan animals for microchips upon admission if their owners are not known.  The American Kennel Club and the Dog Owners of the Granite State, our New Hampshire federation, both support HB 1309.  Click here to read AKC’s alert on HB 1309.  

New Jersey (2016-2017 session adjourned on January 10, 2018) – Assembly Bill 772 requires animal owners to pay for the cost of boarding and caring for their animals if the animals are seized pursuant to a charge of animal cruelty. While the owner can contest specific costs in court, and the court may consider the owner’s ability to pay; all costs deemed necessary by the court must be paid before an innocent owner can have possession of their animals again. If payments are not made, the owner will permanently lose their animals, even if the charges are ultimately dropped or the owner is found not guilty. The bill passed the Assembly, but failed to receive further consideration by the Senate Economic Growth Committee prior to adjournment of the 2016-2017 session. Click here to read further.

New Jersey  Senate Bill 3041 is a new version of Senate Bill 63/Assembly Bill 2338, which AKC, the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs, and allied organizations have actively opposed since it was first introduced in January 2016. An amended was approved by the legislature, but was conditionally vetoed by Governor Christie.  An attempt to override the veto failed in May. Click here for further information.

New JerseySenate Bill 2454 as introduced sought to impose cost of 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 outcome 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 later amended, it required a court to determine a defendant’s ability to pay prior to setting costs, but did not address AKC’s concerns about permanent alteration and the property interests of non-possessory co-owners. SB 2454 passed the Senate and was referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, which did not consider the bill prior to adjournment. 

New Mexico – House Bill 64 and Senate Bill 51 would allow the department to collect a $100 fee on each brand or product name of pet food distributed in the state.  The fees will be deposited into an account to help fund the state’s low-cost spay neuter program for those who meet certain income requirements.  AKC and local clubs are monitoring this legislation.

New York – Assembly Bill 284 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 and is pending committee assignment in the Senate. 

New York – Assembly Bill 4225 would prohibit homeowner’s insurance providers from refusing or cancelling coverage or increasing insurance premiums based solely on the breed of dog owned by the policy holder.  AKC supports this bill, which is pending a vote by the full Assembly. Read more about how to contact the Assembly in support of this bill.

New YorkSenate Bill 1256 would make it a crime to steal a pet from an owner’s or lawful custodian’s private property.  AKC GR supports this bill, which ensures that criminals who steal pets would be charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree, as is current law with other property theft.  Read AKC’s alert on this bill, which is pending in the Senate Codes Committee and may be considered soon by the full Senate. 

North Carolina – House Bill 179 seeks to regulate as “large commercial dog breeders” all who own or maintain 10 or more intact female dogs over the age of six months.  AKC GR has expressed concerns with defining a commercial breeder based solely on dog ownership and not on actual sales or commerce.  The bill is pending in the House Judiciary II Committee and AKC GR is working to address concerns and develop effective solutions.

Ohio – Constitutional Ballot Initiative. HSUS is seeking signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November 2018 that would place constitutional regulations on anyone who has 8 or more intact female dogs of any age. The measure also seeks to make vague and problematic humane standards part of the Ohio constitution. AKC is closely monitoring this and potential legislative proposals and will provide more information as it becomes available.

Ohio – House Bill 263 would allow dogs in outdoor eating establishments, with permission from the business owner.  AKC is supporting this bill, which would allow responsible dog owners more opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities with their well-behaved pets.  The bill was amended by the House Economic Development, Commerce and Labor Committee to provide reasonable clarifications and regulations for outdoor eating establishments that choose to allow dogs.  It is expected to pass committee and be considered by the full House in the coming weeks. Read AKC’s legislative alert for more information on how to join AKC in supporting this measure.

Pennsylvania – House Bill 1216 allows law enforcement, emergency responders, and animal control officers to remove animals from vehicles without liability if there is a good faith, reasonable belief the animal is in imminent danger. An effort must be made to locate the driver prior to entry, and steps must be taken to “ensure or restore the well-being of the dog or cat.”  These first responders would not be immune from liability if there is evidence of gross negligence, recklessness or wanton misconduct. AKC believes this is a reasonable bill to address the issue of dogs and cats left in potentially dangerous situations. The bill unanimously passed the House on July 7 and is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  AKC GR and its Pennsylvania federation continue to monitor this and other measures regarding this issue that are under consideration in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Pennsylvania – House Bill 1652 considers how to handle a companion animal during a divorce case when there is division of property.  It allows the court to consider the best interest of the animal, including determining which party would best ensure the pet’s proper care, safety and socialization.  AKC appreciates that this bill ensures the care of animals while still defining them as property. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

Pennsylvania – Senate Bill 636 allows police officers, humane officers, and other first responders to remove an animal from a vehicle under extreme weather circumstances.  AKC GR is working with the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs to request amendments to protect owners from liability should their animal harm someone in the course of being removed from the vehicle, and also to clarify that any actions taken by the first responders must be both reasonable and necessary.  The bill has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

South Carolina – SB 841, among other provisions, would provide for awarding costs of care when a person is found guilty of animal cruelty; limit tethering with certain exceptions; make cruel tethering an animal cruelty violation; provide that an animal shelter may immediately turn over a litter of unidentifiable puppies or kittens four months of age or younger to any organization established for the purpose of caring for animals, so long as the litter is turned over for life-saving purposes; require magistrates to complete two hours of continuing education on animal cruelty; and provide for standards of care and inspections of animal shelters.

South Carolina   Senate Bill 3 /House Bill 3668 would seek to ensure a person found guilty of animal cruelty may be required to pay the costs of care of an impounded animal.  S 3 passed in the Senate and has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

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.  HB 3069 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

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 $50 to the person who “restrains” the dog; 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.

Virginia - Two bills (House Bill 270 and Senate Bill 217) have been introduced in Virginia that would allow local municipalities to prohibit pet stores from selling animals except for those coming from shelters or rescues. The House Agriculture Subcommittee recommended unanimously that HB 270 be stricken from the docket.  The Senate Agriculture Committee has amended Senate Bill 217 and recommended it be continued in the 2019 session.  AKC and its state federation have been closely monitoring these bills and expressed concerns with the bills as introduced.    

Virginia – House Bill 865 and House Bill 870 would require pet stores and dealers in the state to furnish a bond of up to $5000 for each breeder supplying an animal for sale.  House Bill 865 would require this for any out of state breeders, and House Bill 870 would allow localities to require this for any dealer from whom the pet shop has obtained an animal in the past year.  House Bill 870 states that if an animal is deemed unfit for purchase because of a congenital defect or illness within 10 days of purchase, or if the animal is diagnosed with parvovirus within 14 days, the bond may be used to compensate the purchaser. AKC is monitoring these bills.  HB 865 has been assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture, and HB 870 is pending in the House Committee on Counties, Cities, and Towns.

WashingtonHouse Bill 2822 -- This bill would identify a growing problem of people misrepresenting pet, therapy animal, or emotional support animal as a service animal, make it an infraction and establish a penalty for violation of the new code. This bill has been introduced.    

Washington -- Senate Bill 6076 -- would specifically define behaviors that constitute animal abuse and animal sexual abuse. AKC GR is aware of the legislation and tracking it.

West Virginia – House Bill 2168 would prohibit municipalities from enacting laws that regulate dogs based solely on the breed.  AKC supports this bill, which is pending in the House Political Subdivisions Committee. 

West Virginia – Senate Bill 113 would make it a penalty for someone to misrepresent their animal as a service animal.  AKC is monitoring this bill, which is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.