- Government Relations
- Legislative Successes
The following list highlights some of AKC Government Relations' (AKC GR) legislative successes through September 1, 2017. These and other victories have been won in cooperation with 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 2017, as well as the latest information on all bills being tracked by the AKC Government Relations Department, visit the 2017 Legislation Tracking page.
House Con Res. 46 and Senate Resolution 144 support the designation of May 1 as National Purebred Dog Day. The resolution, written by the American Kennel Club, recognizes the many ways purebred dogs enhance and enrich our lives, including service, search and rescue, military, livestock guardians, and many other services. AKC hosted a reception for members of Congress and staff at the U.S. Capitol on May 1 to commemorate the day.
Senate Bill 17 /House Bill 45 as introduced, would have created 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, provided 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. AKC Government Relations expressed opposition to these bills, recommended alternate language to regulate all high-volume dog sellers, and issued alerts to Alabama clubs and breeders. SB 17 did not advance in the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and HB 45 did not advance House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.
Senate Bill 273 permits the use of therapy dogs in certain courtroom situations. AKC provided talking points and information to local advocates on this bill, which was signed into law in May 2017.
House Bill 1717 would have required registration of anyone who sells or offers a dog for sale in the state and advertises through “public media”. The bill also would have defined “hobby breeder” as any person who owns one dog or cat. AKC expressed concerns with the bill and its impact on dog owners. HB 1715 was recommended for study by the House Interim Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development.
House Bill 13 protects the rights of responsible dog owners by prohibiting any dog from being declared "potentially dangerous" or "dangerous" under state law based solely on the dog's breed. HB 13 also prohibits municipalities from enacting laws or regulations based on a dog's breed. AKC supported this bill, which was signed by the governor in June 2017. Delaware is now the 19th state to have enacted laws prohibiting breed-specific policies.
Senate 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. AKC strongly opposed this measure with numerous letters, personal and coalition advocacy, media releases, and grassroots action. The bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Senate Bill 1270 sought to provide for compensatory damages for the injury or death of a pet. AKC opposed this bill which would have had significant consequences for dogs and dog owners. AKC GR worked with a coalition of veterinary groups in opposition; providing talking points, grassroots outreach, letters, and other advocacy. SB 1270, which passed in the Senate Committee on Judiciary, has been indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
House Resolution 638 commends the benefits and contributions of purebred dogs to the State of Georgia and recognizes May, 1, 2017 as Georgia Purebred Dog Day at the state capitol. The original measure was drafted by AKC GR and supported with broad GR advocacy efforts. HR 638 was also strongly supported by the Georgia Canine Coalition and adopted by the Georgia House of Representatives.
House Bill 313 sought 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. AKC GR opposed this measure, which was withdrawn.
Originally, 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 signed by the governor.
Senate Bill 1882 as amended provides regulations for pet stores, including prohibiting the stores from sourcing animals from breeders that have committed certain violations of federal laws and regulations, and requiring that all dogs sold in a pet store be microchipped, This bill, known as the "Safe Pets Act", was supported by the AKC, Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners, Illinois Veterinary Medical Association, pet store owners, and other groups concerned with promoting the sale of healthy pets in Illinois. The bill was signed into law on August 24, 2017, and immediately took effect.
The Boone County Board of Commissioners postponed a vote on a proposal that would have mandated the spaying and neutering of all dogs belonging to county residents by 2020. It also would have imposed strict tethering requirements that would not have allowed for humane tethering at dog shows or field trials unless the tether was 12 feet long. AKC, its Indiana federation, and local clubs contacted the county to express concerns, and continue to work with the board to provide better alternatives and solutions. The county expects a new proposal to be presented in the coming months.
Senate Bill 47 would further regulate rescues and shelters. AKC 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 have been required to submit to inspections and be regulated the same as high volume commercial kennels. The bill passed the Senate and the House Committee on Agriculture, but did not advance further. AKC will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure an effective measure in the future that will not be overly burdensome to hobby breeders.
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. AKC encouraged local breeders to contact the committee to express concerns with aspects of the bill as introduced. HB 570 was tabled in the House Business and Labor Committee.
Senate Bill 203 would have required animal owners whose animals are impounded based on an accusation to expend potentially significant funds—or else forfeit ownership of their animals—prior to any determination of guilt. A person unable to keep up payments would have lost their animals even if ultimately cleared of all charges. SB 203 was indefinitely postponed in the Senate.
Senate Bill 409 protects 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 was signed by the governor on June 4, 2017.
In January 2016, New Jersey Senate Bill 63 and its companions were introduced. Among many burdensome provisions, the bills originally sought to ban pet stores in New Jersey from selling dogs and cats unless sourced from shelters and rescues. Due to vocal opposition by concerned New Jersey residents, the bills were amended multiple times, including the removal of the retail sales restriction. Through procedural maneuvering, Senate Bill 63 became Senate Bill 3041. The final version of the legislation contained some improvements that AKC requested, but retained its original anti-breeder bias and focused the regulation of breeders and retail sales outlets. S.3041 considered anyone – including breeders – who sell more than 10 cats or dogs in a year to be “pet dealers.” On May 1, 2017, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed Senate Bill 3041, which incorporated all the changes requested by AKC and like-minded organizations, including NAIA and PIJAC. On May 25, an attempt in the Senate to override the veto did not succeed. It is possible the sponsor may attempt again to override the veto, and AKC and its New Jersey federation are closely monitoring any action on this bill.
Assembly Bill 4749 would require non-economic damages in cases involving the injury or wrongful death of a companion animal. This means that in addition to the fair monetary value of the animal and veterinary bills, a person would also be liable for the loss of "society, companionship, comfort, protection, and services" that were provided by the animal. AKC expressed signficant concerns with this bill, which passed the Assembly Judiciary and Codes Committees but did not advance further prior to the end of the legislative session. AKC will continue to closely monitor this issue.
SB 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, and meet recordkeeping and operational requirements. AKC expressed numerous concerns with the bill as introduced. The bill failed to pass a vote of the full Senate after the Agriculture Committee recommended it not pass.
The City of St. Clairsville introduced a proposal that would have regulated “vicious dogs”, which it defined in part as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American pit bull terriers, or any mixed breed that contains “as an element of its breeding” any of these breeds. After numerous concerns were raised by the AKC, local clubs, and residents, the city agreed to withdraw the proposal and replace it with dangerous dog language that would apply to all dogs regardless of breed.
House Bill 5214 sought to require non-economic damages for intentional or negligent death of a pet on the owner's property. At AKC's request, the House Judiciary Committee sent the bill to study and did not reconsider the bill prior to adjournment.
House Bill 3009 sought 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. House Bill 3069 sought to regulate commercial kennel operators and certain animal caretakers, which could have included owners and employees of boarding kennels and other pet care businesses. AKC Government Relations worked with the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians to provide testimony regarding problematic provisions and definitions in these bills. The House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs deferred action.
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 AKC and 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.
Senate Bill 282/House Bill 265 (also Senate Bill 283/House Bill 120) sought 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. AKC expressed numerous concerns with the bills as introduced. SB 282 and HB 265 did not advance during the 2017 session. HB 120, an unrelated bill, which was amended to include essentially the same language, also did not advance in the 2017 session. SB 283, which was likely to be similarly amended, was taken off notice in committee.
The Cheyenne City Council was drafting a proposal that would have mandated the sterilization of any dog over the age of 6 months that was at-large more than once in its lifetime. It was also unclear whether the city would have considered mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs, with possible exceptions for certain breeders. The city reached out directly to AKC Government Relations for input and suggestions, and GR and a representative of the Cheyenne Kennel Club provided more positive alternatives. The city has tabled this proposal and continues to work with AKC GR and local dog owners on drafting a new, more effective proposal to address their concerns.