Legislative Successes

 

The following list provides some of the highlights of AKC Government Relations' (AKC GR) legislative successes through July 8, 2016. Other victories not included in this list have been won by AKC federations, clubs, and responsible dog owners and breeders around the country who continue to work tirelessly to promote positive canine legislation in their state and community.

To view all Legislative Alerts posted for your state in 2016, as well as the latest information on all bills being tracked by the AKC Government Relations Department, visit the 2016 Legislation Tracking page.

Delaware
House Bill 296 names the Golden Retriever as the State Dog.  The AKC and the Golden Retriever Club of America both support this bill, which recognizes the breed's excellent temperament and the many roles Golden Retrievers provide to society.  The designation will last for one year.  The bill has been approved by both the House and Senate.  Read AKC's blog on this bill.  

Illinois

House Resolution 1144 recognizes May 1, 2016 as National Purebred Dog Day in Illinois. The resolution celebrates the invaluable roles that dogs play and recognizes that purebreds were selected and developed to perform very specific tasks. The resolution, which was brought forward by the AKC’s Illinois federation and is strongly supported by the AKC, has been approved by both houses.  Read more about National Purebred Dog Day.

House Bill 4443 would have made several changes to the laws regarding those charged with cruelty and whose animals are seized. The changes included requiring peace officers to arrest without a warrant anyone who violates the state’s cruelty laws and granting civil immunity for those caring for the seized animals “unless the act is the result of willful or wanton misconduct.”  The bill was pulled from the Agriculture Committee and reassigned to the House Rules Committee and did not advance. AKC and its Illinois federation communicated the numerous concerns with this bill to the legislators.

House Bill 5004 as introduced would have only allowed veterinarians to debark a dog if it is medically necessary to treat an illness, disease, or injury or correct a congenital abnormality that is causing harm or pain. An amendment was filed to simply state the only veterinarians may debark a dog, and anyone selling a dog or cat must disclose that the dog has been debarked. The bill was sent to the House Rules Committee and will not advance this year.

Senate Bill 2847 would have further streamlined procedures by which an owner suspected of cruelty may permanently lose their dogs even before a trial begins. The bill was held in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Read more about this bill and AKC’s concerns.

Iowa

SF 502/HF 2416 as introduced would have created many new regulations for “commercial breeders”, which are currently defined as someone who has four or more intact dogs and receives any kind of consideration for breeding (including stud fees or a puppy back). The bills were amended to create a new “Quality Assurance Council” that would have been charged with reviewing applications from commercial breeders “who seek to receive a quality assurance certificate denoting the breeder as one of the leading commercial breeders” in Iowa. It was unclear exactly how council membership would be determined or how the measure would be implemented. The legislature adjourned without passing any new breeder regulations. The AKC is working with local clubs and breeders to continue ensuring the rights of breeders and dog owners are protected in the state. Read more about the victory for Iowa dog owners and breeders.

Maryland

Senate Bill 36 would have expanded current law to allow anyone to remove an animal from a vehicle if they believe the animal’s health or safety is in danger. Current law only allows certain first responders, law enforcement officers or animal control to remove animals from vehicles. Those who remove animals from vehicles would have been exempt from all liability. AKC, the state federation and local dog owners contacted the committee and sponsor to express concerns about pet theft, lost dogs, and the lack of recourse for dog owners who were being responsible.  The sponsor agreed to amend the bill to address concerns, but the bill ultimately received an unfavorable report in committee.

Massachusetts

Senate Bill 851 seeks to allow the recovery of non-economic damages in cases involving the death or injury of a companion animal.  Non-economic damages are those that cannot be determined by a certain dollar amount (i.e., loss of companionship).  The American Kennel Club remains a long-time opponent of allowing non-economic damages in such cases, and opposed SB 851.  AKC’s Massachusetts federation also opposed the bill.  It was referred to study on April 4 and will not advance this year.

New York

Assembly Bill 1679 would have banned “debarking” unless it was deemed medically necessary to correct an injury, illness, or congenital defect. It passed the Assembly but was held in the Senate Agriculture Committee. Read more about this bill.

Rhode Island

House Bill 7958 would have created court-appointed animal advocates.  AKC opposed this bill, which would have resulted in legal and pragmatic issues regarding who is responsible for an animal, and may have ultimately impacted the ability and rights of pet owners to freely choose the most appropriate course of care and treatment for pets.  The bill was held for further study on March 30 and will not advance this year.

South Carolina

House Bill 4120 would have required licensing of commercial dog breeders, defined as a person or business that owns, has custody of, or maintains twenty or more female dogs over the age of six months capable of reproduction and kept primarily for the purpose of breeding and selling the offspring.  HB 4120 did not advance in the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.  

Senate Bill 800 would have required licensing, fees, and inspections for persons who own or control ten or more intact female adult dogs and enacted extensive requirements for breeders. Inspections and unlimited re-inspections could have been conducted by appointees with no training or certification, and such appointees' non-governmental organizations would have received resulting fees and civil penalties of up to $5000 per day. SB 800 did not advance in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.  

Tennessee 

Senate Bill 2175 and House Bill 2303 sought to enact regulation of persons who own 16 or more intact adult female dogs or who sell 40 (originally 20) or more dogs a year. Any person, potentially including representatives of organizations that oppose dog breeding, could have been authorized to conduct inspections and determine if violations were occurring. Any violation of any rule would have been subject to both criminal and civil penalties. The bills were taken off notice in committee. Subsequently, an amendment to attach similar language to an unrelated bill was withdrawn. The Tennessee Federation of Dog Clubs, AKC clubs in Tennessee, and dog owners and breeders across the state worked to educate elected officials about problematic provisions in this legislation.

Utah 

House Bill 132  would have defined a commercial breeder as anyone with six or more breeding animals, who sells or gives away even one puppy. AKC GR worked with local clubs to educate legislators about the inappropriateness of this definition.  The bill failed to pass prior to session adjournment.

Senate Bill 253 would have prohibited a dog from being tethered outside when the temperature was below 32 degrees or if there are high winds, rain, or snow, unless the dog has access to an approved shelter.  This bill would have impacted outdoor events where dogs are humanely tethered.  AKC and local dog clubs and sportsmen expressed concern with this bill, which failed to pass prior to adjournment.

Virginia 

House Bills 38, 211, and 1323 would have allowed private citizens to remove companion animals from vehicles if they believe the animal is at risk of serious injury or death. The bills further stated that the person may not be held liable for any damages, including loss of the animal or any injury caused by the animal. These bills were all tabled for the year and an identical Senate bill, SB 9, was amended to only apply these laws to law enforcement and first responders. It no longer allowed private citizens to remove dogs.

West Virginia 

House Bill 4653 would have required all dogs and cats to be sterilized with very few exceptions. The AKC and local clubs and breeders expressed strong concern with this bill, which was ultimately held in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
 

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