State Issues: News from the State Capitols

Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking. Visit the 2016 Legislation Tracking page and click on your state to get the latest updates on state bills monitored by the AKC.

Massachusetts  SB 2390 (formerly SB 2370) has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee. The latest version of the bill includes expanded restrictions on dog breeders, establishes fines for anyone who fails to license their kennel unless they forfeit 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 2390. Click here to read AKC GR’s alert on SB 2390.  

Massachusetts  House Bill 1866 and Senate Bill 1085 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. 

Massachusetts — House Bill 3266 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.

Massachusetts — Senate Docket No. 2459 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.

Michigan  HB 4898 would regulate those who own at least 15 intact female dogs. As passed by the House, the bill clarifies that only those dogs that have previously been bred should be included in this definition. The House also removed a dog ownership limit present in previous versions. AKC GR supports the positive amendments and continues to work with the Michigan federation to address remaining questions and concerns on this bill. HB 4898 has been pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee since March.

Michigan SB 239 would prohibit local governments from enacting breed-specific laws. The bill has passed the Senate and had a hearing in the House Local Government Committee on September 7. AKC and the Michigan Association for Pure-Bred Dogs both support the bill as amended by the Senate. Read more about this bill.

Michigan  SB 566 would allow private citizens to remove children or animals from vehicles if they believe their health or safety is in immediate danger. The person must comply with several requirements, including calling the local fire or police department or 9-1-1 prior to entering, leaving a note on the person’s windshield, and remaining near the vehicle until first responders arrive. AKC GR and AKC’s Michigan federation are asking for amendments to protect the owner from liability if a dog bites or harms the person removing them from the vehicle, as well as recourse to protect the owner if the animal was in fact not in danger. The bill passed the Senate on February 23 with amendments. A public hearing was held in the House Judiciary Committee on September 13. Read more about this legislation.

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). Now significantly amended, the bill preserves the state’s consumer protection law and allows existing pet stores to sell dogs sourced from breeders. SB 63 has been passed by the State Senate and has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. AKC GR continues to work with a broad-based coalition of interested parties to address the remaining problematic provisions in the bill. A companion bill, AB 2338, has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, but has not been scheduled for a hearing.

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.  

Ohio  Senate Bill 331 would regulate pet stores in the state and ensure that the breeders who sell to pet stores are held to a certain standard. The bill also preempts local laws being passed around the state that would only allow the stores to sell dogs from shelters or rescues. As introduced, the bill would have changed the definition of “high volume breeder” to someone who owns four intact adult dogs. The AKC and other groups opposed this definition and the sponsor offered an amendment that would ensure the definition stays as it is in current law, which defines those who produce at least 9 litters of puppies and sell more than 60 dogs in a year as high volume breeders. 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, and protects the health of dogs by providing standards for breeders selling to pet stores. It also protects consumer choice by allowing individuals to choose the right pet from the source they believe is best for their family. The bill passed the Senate and is expected to be considered by the House after the November elections. AKC continues to work with a broad coalition of interest groups on these measures. Read more about Senate Bill 331.

PennsylvaniaHouse Bill 869 as introduced increased and tightened cruelty laws.  Last minute amendments by the Senate included provisions that would impact those who humanely tether dogs outside.  Among other provisions, the bill as amended would not allow a dog to be tethered outside if the temperature is less than 30 degrees.  It also would not allow a dog to be tethered for more than nine hours.  If a dog is seen tethered at the same place more than once, then it would be presumed that the dog has been tethered for nine hours and the owner could be charged with neglect.  Although House amendments addressed many issues, the AKC remained concerned about the impact of these provisions on field trials and performance events. Further, an amendment added by the House would have permitted tethering for “temporary” purposes, so long as it did not exceed one hour.  It was unclear how this would have impacted grooming or veterinary examinations.  The  AKC and the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs worked to quickly educate the House on these concerns, and understand that it will not advance before the end of session this week.