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 perform 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.

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.

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.

AlabamaSenate Bill 231 would exempt agricultural work dogs from local leash laws. SB231 passed in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. 

Alabama  House Bill 201 seeks to define “shelter” under existing animal cruelty laws. HB 201 passed in the House 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.

ArkansasHouse Bill 1715 as introduced sought to regulate those that breed and sell dogs in the state.  AKC has worked closely with sportsmen and legislators on addressing concerns, and extensive amendments are pending. AKC GR continues to closely monitor this bill. Read AKC's alert for more information.

Arkansas — House Bill 1717 would require registration of anyone who sells or offers a dog for sale in the state and advertises through “public media”.  The bill also defines “hobby breeder” as any person who owns one dog or cat. Click here for more information.

ArkansasHouse Bill 1769, which sought to create an animal abuser registry, failed in the House Committee on Agriculture.

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.  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 Senate Bill 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 House Bill 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.

Delaware House Bill 13 says that no dog may be declared “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous” under state law based solely on the dog’s breed or perceived breed.  It also prohibits municipalities from enacting laws or regulations based on breed.  The AKC supports this legislation, which passed the House Health and Human Services Committee on March 15.

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. These bill are advancing in their respective committees.

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 persons transporting dogs in open areas of certain vehicles or trailers to secure dog and to preempt local regulation of transportation of dogs in vehicles.  HB 627 has been referred to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee.

FloridaHouse Bill 871 seeks to establish an animal abuser registry, require pet dealers to verify the identity of a prospective purchaser and that the person is not on the registry list, and to establish penalties for selling or delivering an animal to a person without performing these verifications.  HB 871 was on the agenda of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee for March 15.

FloridaSenate Bill 1270 seeks to provide for the award of compensatory damages for the injury or death of a pet. The bill passed in the Senate Committee on Judiciary on March 14.  Read more about this legislation. 

FloridaSenate Bill 1466/House Bill 979, among other provisions, seek to require a pet dealer to only sell or offer for sale a dog procured from a humane society, an animal shelter, or a person or entity who has not been adjudicated and issued certain citations for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act. “Pet dealer” is defined as any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or other association which, in the ordinary course of business, engages in the sale of more than two litters, or 20 dogs or cats, per year, whichever is greater, to the public. This definition includes breeders of animals who sell such animals directly to a consumer. Per this definition, HB 979 could be interpreted to prevent breeders from breeding and selling more than two litters or 20 dogs or cats a year. HB 979 has been referred to the Careers & Competition Subcommittee.

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 dogs that are 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 House Bill 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 deferred by the House Judiciary Committee on March 1, ending further consideration of the bill for the year. 

HawaiiHouse Bill 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.  An amended version of the bill recent passed the Hawaii House, and is awaiting committee assignment in the Senate. 

IllinoisHouse Bill 2824/Senate Bill 1882 provide regulations for pet stores, including prohibiting the stores from sourcing animals from breeders that have committed certain federal laws and regulations and requiring that all dogs sold in a pet store be microchipped.  The bill also prohibits municipalities from requiring that pet stores only source dogs from shelters or rescues.  AKC is supporting these bills.  House Bill 2824 is pending in the House Business Licenses Subcommittee and Senate Bill 1882 is pending in the Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee. 

Illinois – House Bill 2981 would allow courts to appoint a “special advocate” to represent the interests of animals during cases that involve the animal’s health, safety, or an injury.  The “special advocate” would be a law student.  An amendment has been proposed to only apply this law to Cook County (Chicago), but the AKC and its state federation are actively opposing the measure.  The bill is pending in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee.  Read more about this legislation. 

Kansas Senate Bill 47 would 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 inspections and to be regulated the same as high volume commercial kennels.  The bill has passed the Senate and was scheduled for a hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on March 16.  AKC continues to request amendments to this proposal to ensure an effective measure that will not be overly burdensome for hobby breeders.

MarylandHouse Bill 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. 

Massachusetts Senate Bill 1155 expands 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 as few as eight intact female dogs.  The AKC continues to work with local fanciers in opposition to SB 1155.  It has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.

Missouri House Bill 905 would prohibit cities and towns from enacting breed-specific ordinances.  The AKC and state federation both support this bill, which passed the House Local Government Committee on March 8 and is pending in the Rules Committee. 

MontanaHouse Bill 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. 

Montana House Bill 570 seeks to establish licensing, inspections, regulations, fees, and penalties for “commercial breeders”, defined as someone that owns, keeps, or harbors eight or more intact female dogs or cats 9 months of age or older for the primary purpose of breeding and selling their offspring, or that sells, exchanges, leases, transfers 31 or more dogs or cats in a calendar year.  The House Business and Labor Committee did not take action on HB 570 on March 9. Click here for more information.  

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.  As originally introduced, S.63/A.2338 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. Amendments preserved the consumer protection law and removed pet store sale restrictions.  AKC remains concerned with potential consequences on those who may sell a pet in the state. This issue has been approved by the legislature and is pending on the Governor’s desk.  AKC GR will be providing guidance on outreach to Governor Christie soon.  Check the AKC Legislative Action Center for the latest information.

New JerseySenate Bill 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.  After an amended version of the bill was passed by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, additional amendments were accepted by the full Senate before the bill was passed on March 13.  Visit AKC’s Legislative Action Center to learn more about how you can help fight this legislation. 

New JerseyAssembly Bill 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 JerseySenate Bill 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 Senate Bill 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 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 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.

North Dakota – Senate Bill 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 failed to pass a vote of the full Senate after the Agriculture Committee recommended it not pass.   

South Dakota House Bill 1159 sought to impose additional requirements on commercial breeding operations in the state, including prohibitions against the stacking of primary enclosures as well as requiring primary enclosures to have solid floor.  Upon the recommendation of the State Veterinarian, the bill was amended to defer commercial breeder oversight to USDA and private registration organizations like AKC.  HB 1159 was signed by Governor Daugaard on March 13.   

South Carolina   Senate Bill 3 / House Bill 3668 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 $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.

Tennessee Senate Bill 282/House Bill 265 (also SB 283/HB 120) seek to register 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 and HB 265 have been assigned to committee. HB 120, an unrelated bill, has been amended to include essentially the same language and is assigned to the House Consumer and Human Resources Committee. SB 283, which is likely to be similarly amended, will be considered by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on March 21.Click here for more information .

Tennessee Senate Bill 519/House Bill 568 seek to establish consumer protection for persons who purchase pets from pet stores.  AKC GR recommended an amendment to more clearly define “retail pet store”, and with the inclusion of that amendment, supports these bills as currently written. SB 519 passed in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. HB 568 passed in the House Local Government Committee.

Washington Senate Bill 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 is on second reading after approval by the Senate Local Government Committee.