Legislative Successes


The following list provides some of the highlights of AKC Government Relations' (AKC GR) legislative successes through April 6, 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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.