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.

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 (non-economic) damages for the loss of a pet. HB 91 is pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

Alabama  House Bill 201 seeks to define “shelter” under existing animal cruelty laws. HB 201, as amended, 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.

AlabamaHouse Bill 524 would provide that a person is immune from liability for property damage or injury that results from forcible entry into a vehicle if he or she believes that a person or pet in the vehicle is in imminent danger of suffering bodily harm. The person must first contact law enforcement, EMS, or animal control. HB 524 has passed in the House Judiciary Committee and will advance to the House of Representatives. The committee did not consider AKC’s recommended amendments, which would ensure that persons and animals removed or released from vehicles remain secure until emergency responders arrive, and that the rights of responsible persons, animal owners, and property owners would remain protected. Read more about this legislation. 

AlabamaSenate Bill 17 /House Bill 45 as introduced, would create a commission with authority to license, regulate, and inspect dog and cat breeders who possess 11 or more adult intact dogs or cats and who sell or offer to sell 20 or more dogs or cats per year, provide for “third party inspectors”, and other functions. A proposed amendment to SB 17 sought to regulate every person who “advertises” to sell a dog or cat in the state and to award governmental and law enforcement powers to a “humane society.” SB 17 did not advance in the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. HB 45 has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. Read AKC’s legislative alert

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, as amended, has passed in the Senate and received a favorable report from the House County and Municipal Government Committee.

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

AlabamaSenate Bill 273 would permit the use of therapy dogs in certain courtroom situations. SHB 273 has passed in the Senate and was passed with amendments in the House Judiciary Committee.

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. HB 1715 was recommended for study by the House Interim Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development. 

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.  HB 1715 was recommended for study by the House Interim Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development. 

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

California 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, our California federations, and key constituents are working in opposition to this onerous bill. It was approved by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on April 18, and subsequently assigned to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

California – In an effort to address predatory pet leasing schemes, Assembly Bill 1491 originally sought to ban all leases in the state that had dogs and cats as their subjects.  The AKC opposed the original version of the bill.  The Animal Council, an AKC-recognized California federation, worked with Assembly staff to explain how AKC sanctions leasing for the limited purpose of facilitating the breeding of purebred dogs.  The bill was subsequently amended to address concerns prior to passage by the Assembly Judiciary Committee. 

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 is pending on the Governor’s desk. Click here to read further.   

FloridaSenate Bill 212 sought to define and penalize “animal hoarding”.  The bill included 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 was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

FloridaSenate Bill 416 and House Bill 151 are related bills that seek to allow the use of therapy dogs in certain court proceedings. HB 151, with amendments, has passed in both chambers and is pending approval by the Governor.

FloridaHouse Bill 515 sought 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. A similar bill, SB 1162, has also been filed. HB 515 was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

FloridaHouse Bill 627 sought 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.  HB 627 was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

FloridaHouse Bill 871 sought 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 indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

FloridaHouse Bill 979 sought to require pet dealers to only sell dogs procured from a humane society, animal shelter or entity that had not been issued certain citations for violating the Animal Welfare Act.  HB 979 was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

FloridaSenate Bill 1270 sought to provide for compensatory damages for the injury or death of a pet. SB 1270, which passed in the Senate Committee on Judiciary, has been indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration. Read more about this legislation. 

FloridaSenate Bill 1466/House Bill 979, among other provisions, sought 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” was 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 included breeders of animals who sell such animals directly to a consumer. Per this definition, HB 979 could have been interpreted to prevent breeders from breeding and selling more than two litters or 20 dogs or cats a year. The bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

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, and was withdrawn and recommitted. 

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 was withdrawn.

HawaiiOriginally, House Bill 1516 would have expanded the cases in which a humane society could petition a court for the forfeiture of an animal.  This included removing the requirement that the cases be criminal in nature and removing procedural protections that were provided to defendants.  A significantly amended version of the bill, with an effective date in 2050, then passed the Hawaii Senate.  Subsequently, a conference committee addressed AKC’s concerns by ensuring procedural protections remain part of Hawaii law while expanding the opportunities during which a humane society could petition a court for forfeiture of an animal in a criminal case and amending the effective date.  The conference committee’s amended version of HB 1516 was adopted by both the House and Senate on May 3.  Now the bill awaits action by Governor David Ige. 

IllinoisSenate Bill 1882 as amended provides 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.  It also prohibits home rule municipalities from regulating the sourcing of dogs and cats sold in pet stores.  The bill has passed 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 was reassigned to the Rules Committee and will likely not advance this year. 

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 passed the full Senate and the House Committee on Agriculture.  The bill has been removed from the calendar and further amendments are expected.  AKC continues to request amendments to this proposal to ensure an effective measure that will not be overly burdensome for hobby breeders.

LouisianaHouse Bill 466, among other provisions, seeks to change the membership and scope of a state animal control advisory commission. Seats for a dog breeder and for representatives of horse breeding organizations would be removed, and the commission membership as defined in the proposed bill would result in a majority for representatives of animal control and sheltering agencies. HB 466 has been referred to the House Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development Committee.

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.  AKC GR expects committee  consideration of SB 1155 in the coming months. 

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. HB 364 passed in the House and was tabled in the Senate Public Health, Safety, and Welfare Committee.

Montana House Bill 570 sought 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.  HB 570 was tabled in the House Business and Labor Committee. Click here for more information.  

MontanaHouse Bill 582 sought to regulate pet breeders.  Under this bill, a person who owns eight intact dogs or cats, breeds one litter, and sells a single pet could be required to be licensed, regulated, inspected, and charged fees as a “commercial” pet breeder. HB 582 was tabled in the House Business and Labor Committee. Click here for more information.  

Nevada – Senate Bill 371 would make it more difficult for someone accused of animal cruelty to retain their ownership rights. It would require those whose animals have been seized to pay for their care indefinitely. Owners may not reclaim their animals unless the amount is paid in full. It would also allow counties to remove animals if a person is arrested on any charge and detained for at least 15 days. The county may either give the animal to someone in the owner’s immediate family, or allow “another person” to adopt the animal. The bill was amended in the Senate Natural Resources Committee and AKC is reviewing these changes.

Nevada – Senate Bill 409 seeks to protect animals left unattended in vehicles. AKC expressed support for the provision that would prohibit animals being left in vehicles in dangerous temperatures, but asked for an amendment to remove a prohibition on leaving a dog in any vehicle with the engine running under any circumstances, which would have had a direct impact on handlers and others who humanely leave dogs in vehicles during dog shows. The bill was amended by the Senate to remove this provision and is pending in House Judiciary.

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, but established other onerous regulations including designating anyone who transfers 10 dogs in a year as a “pet dealer”. This issue was approved by the legislature in March.  Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed S.3041 on May 1.  With a conditional veto, New Jersey’s Governor can dictate changes he would like to see made to a bill that has been passed by the legislature.  Governor Christie’s conditional veto incorporated all of the AKC’s and allied organizations’ recommended changes.  The legislature can now either accept the changes, attempt to override the Governor’s veto, or refuse to accept the changes and let the bill die.  The bill’s principle sponsor, Sen. Raymond Lesniak (who is also running for Governor) has publicly vowed to override the Governor’s veto.  A successful override requires a 2/3s vote of both chambers.  The New Jersey legislature has not successfully overturned a veto during Governor Christie’s term.  The first voting session for the New Jersey Senate is Thursday, May 25.  AKC will continue working with both New Jersey residents and lawmakers to ensure that Governor Christie’s conditional veto is sustained or that S.3041 dies altogether. Click here for further information.

New JerseySenate Bill 1640 would ban even temporary tethering, including the use of a grooming table, or tethering during training or competitive dog events. An amended version of the bill was passed by the Senate and introduced in the House, but no further 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 – 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 this bill.

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.

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   Senate Bill 3 / House Bill 3668 seek to provide 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.

Tennessee Senate Bill 282/House Bill 265 (also Senate Bill 283/House Bill 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, was taken off notice in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on March 21. Click here for more information . Click here to read AKC’ latest legislative alert on HB 120. 

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”.  SB 519 passed in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. SB 519 passed in the Senate, but failed in the House and has been referred to the House Calendar and Rules Committee.