Legislative Successes

 

The following list provides some of the highlights of AKC Government Relations' (AKC GR) legislative successes through December 1, 2015. 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 2015, as well as the latest information on all bills being tracked by the AKC Government Relations Department, visit the 2015 Legislation Tracking page.

Alabama

House Bill 548 sought to regulate dog breeders and establish criminal penalties for failure to comply with undefined and arbitrary requirements for the care, feeding, and housing of dogs. Compliance with the problematic provisions of HB 548 would have been required for every person and organization that has “custody or ownership” of ten or more intact dogs over the age of six months for the “purpose of breeding the dogs and selling the offspring”.  This bill also would have criminalized certain humane and accepted dog care practices. Violations would have been the pejorative crime of “operating a puppy mill”.  HB 548 did not advance in the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee prior to adjournment of the legislative session. Read more about this legislation.

Senate Bill 468 sought to establish prohibitions, restrictions, requirements and penalties regarding outdoor tethering and confinement of dogs.  Among other provisions, it would have required that dogs kept outdoors be confined by one of the following methods:  1) in a pen or enclosure with adequate space for exercise depending on the age, size, “species”, and weight of the dog; 2) in a fully fenced, electronically fenced, or otherwise securely enclosed yard where the dog has the ability run; or 3) on a trolley system or overhead cable run that meets requirements regarding height, length, and other specifications. The bill did not include provisions for dog owners who enclose dogs in pens or kennel runs with regular access to larger exercise areas, leash walking, visits to dog parks, or other forms of exercise. SB 468 was indefinitely postponed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Arkansas

House Bill 1620 sought to enact problematic regulations for dog breeding and require regulation of "commercial breeding kennels" in which ten or more female dogs are maintained for the purpose of breeding. AKC GR issued letters of concern to committee members and legislative alerts. HB 1620 was referred for study by the Joint Interim Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee and did not advance prior to legislative recess.

California

Assembly Bill 794 extends protections provided to law enforcement dogs and horses to also cover dogs and horses being handled by volunteers under the supervision of a law enforcement officer. Specifically, it enhances penalties for attacking or intentionally injuring a dog or horse in these circumstances. The AKC supported this legislation, which has been signed into law by Governor Brown.

The Carpinteria City Council rejected a proposed mandatory spay/neuter ordinance. AKC GR did not find out about the issue until after it had passed 5-0 on the initial vote and responded with a letter, outreach to legislators and an alert to local fanciers. The California Federation of Dog Clubs worked with local clubs in the area and together they successfully opposed this measure.

The Whittier City Council rejected a proposed adoption of the Los Angeles County Code that included mandatory spay/neuter requirements. AKC GR reached out to legislators, sent letters of opposition and provided alerts to local dog owners who joined with the California Federation of Dog Clubs in opposing the measure. These hardworking constituents were able to convince the city council members that mandatory spay/neuter was an inefficient and burdensome solution to the city’s animal control issues.  Read an article by the California Federation of Dog Clubs about this success.

Connecticut

House Bill 6187 sought to permit courts to order that a separate, independent advocate be assigned to represent the interests of an animal in a criminal proceeding in which the welfare or custody of the animal was at issue.  AKC expressed concerns with this measure, including the potential for legal confusion about who would be ultimately responsible for making decisions impacting animals, and the potential for providing advocates akin to guardians ad litem that are traditionally used to protect the interests of people.  AKC GR communicated with the sponsor and committee and sent a legislative alert to clubs.  The bill had a public hearing on April 1.  No further action was been taken on the bill before the Connecticut legislature adjourned on June 3, 2015.  Read more about this legislation.  

Delaware

Senate Bill 22 would allow law enforcement, animal control officers, animal cruelty investigators and firefighters to enter a vehicle if it is believed the temperature is such as to cause injury or death to the animal. The person removing the animal must make a reasonable effort to contact the owner, and if that is unsuccessful, leave written information with local animal shelters with their name and title and the location of the animal. The bill was amended to clarify that a warning will be issued for a first offense.  AKC supported the measure, which was signed into law on August 11. 

Hawaii

House Bill 702 would have required a person who holds a dog license to give notice to the Director of Finance within 14 days of transfer of the dog. Further, every person who seeks a dog license for a dog with a microchip would be required to provide the dog's microchip identification number when applying for a license, or within 14 days if the microchip is obtained thereafter. Failure to provide notice of transfer could result in the most recent license holder being found guilty for acts of abandonment or deprivation involving the dog. This bill passed in the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, but did not advance in the House Committee on Judiciary prior to adjournment of the 2015 session.  AKC GR and the Pacific Pet Alliance will continue to monitor this bill in 2016.

Illinois

House Bill 4029 creates new requirements for shelters that will help streamline the process to get lost animals home more quickly. Among other requirements, shelters will have to check for identification within 24 hours after the initial intake of a dog or cat. An additional scan for a microchip and other forms of identification will also be required prior to transferring an animal to another shelter or rescue group, or euthanization. If the first person listed on the microchip cannot be reached, the shelter must notify the second contact if one is listed. Also, shelters must notify the owner when one is identified and transfer dogs with identified owners to a local animal control or law enforcement agency for redemption. If they cannot transfer the animal, they must hold the animal for at least 7 days prior to removing the animal. The Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners (AKC’s state federation for Illinois) worked closely with the state legislature on this measure, which was supported by the AKC and has been signed by the governor. 

Senate Bill 108 would have added several new requirements to the application for a state breeder license, including proof of zoning compliance. These regulations vary widely and could have potentially required those who keep just a few dogs in their home to obtain expensive business licenses in order to prove compliance. AKC sent an alert to local Illinois dog clubs encouraging them to contact the legislature about this bill, which was scheduled for consideration by the Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee. AKC GR also worked with the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners to express concerns.  The bill has been tabled for the year.

Indiana

The Indiana Natural Resources Commission proposed a new rule that would have changed several regulations, including those relating to dog training grounds and Beagle field trials.  AKC submitted comments to the commission and worked with local Beagle clubs and organizations, as well as sportsmen groups, to address concerns with portions of the proposal that could negatively impact field trials and humane dog training.  AKC GR also sent a legislative alert urging local clubs to comment.  The Commission has tabled the proposal and will continue to seek the input of AKC’s local Beagle clubs when rewriting the regulations. 

Iowa

Senate File 502 (formerly Senate Files 347 and 168) 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). Those who met the definition would have been required to keep their kennels open for unannounced inspections during “normal business hours”, which could be a challenge for hobby and home-based breeders. Breeders also could have been subject to onerous license fees, and required to purchase multiple licenses if they meet more than one definition (such as a breeder who also grooms, etc.). A new license would also have been created for “small breeders, competitive show breeders, and specialized breeders” who either keep three litters or 30 puppies in a fiscal year, whichever is fewer.  It was unclear if someone would have been required to purchase both this license and a commercial breeder license if they meet both definitions.  AKC GR sent several alerts to local clubs and breeders and letters of concern to the Senate.  The bill passed committee but was never considered by the full Senate.  AKC GR continues to monitor the legislation, as it could be considered again in 2016.  

Louisiana

House Bill 710 sought to require certain dog breeders to register annually with their parish and to submit to annual inspections of their facilities by local officials.  AKC GR expressed concern that the bill unnecessarily duplicated federal regulatory oversight of breeders, employed vague and potentially unconstitutional requirements, imposed an unfunded mandate on localities, and risked empowering individuals without expertise in canine husbandry matters to inspect kennels.  The House Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development Committee significantly amended the bill.  The new version, House Bill 847, only required kennel license applicants to provide their parish with their USDA license and sales tax identification information, if they have one; or explanation for why they do not.  HB 847 was signed by the governor.  

Maryland

Senate Bill 26 would have amended the state’s tethering laws to prohibit dogs being tethered outside and unattended for over 1 hour if the temperature is less than 32 degrees. This would likely have impacted those participating in field trials, sled dog, and other outdoor events. AKC GR issued a legislative alert and letter of concern. The bill was given an unfavorable recommendation by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

House Bill 153, like SB 26, would prohibit dogs from being tethered outside and unattended for over one  hour when the temperature is below 32 degrees. This bill would also prevent dogs from being tethered outside for more than 15 minutes if the temperature is above 100 degrees or a warning has been issued by the National Weather Service. The AKC, parent clubs, and local clubs again expressed concern about those humanely tethering animals outside in cold temperatures for field trials, sled dog and other outdoor events with breeds that can tolerate low temperatures. A public hearing was held by the House Judiciary Committee on February 19, and the committee gave the bill an unfavorable report.

House Bill 362 and Senate Bill 393, as introduced, would have forced individuals charged with (but not convicted of) animal cruelty to forfeit ownership of their pets—even after they were later found not guilty of those charges—if they were unable to pay for a care bond for animals seized subsequent to a criminal charge. For defendants already incurring high costs to defend themselves in a criminal proceeding, the additional cost of daily boarding and care fees would likely have proven an impossible burden to meet. In cases where a verdict of not guilty was reached or charges were dropped, a defendant unable to pay would still have been permanently deprived of their property, with no recourse. A similar law was determined to be unconstitutional by a federal district court. At AKC GR’s urging, the bills were amended to require care bonds only in cases where a defendant was found guilty of animal cruelty charges. With the Maryland General Assembly having adjourned, HB 362 and SB 393 did not become law.

House Bill 645 contained many problematic legislative findings, including implying that breeders are the reason for shelter population issues in the state, comparing animals to humans, and using the term "puppy mill." The bill would also have prevented new pet stores in the state from selling dogs or cats. AKC issued a legislative alert and letter of concern on several provisions of the legislation. This bill was given an unfavorable report in the House Economic Matters Committee.

Montana

House Bill 608 sought to establish licensing, inspections, problematic regulations, fees and penalties for dog and cat breeders and certain dog rescue participants based on the ownership of eight or more intact adult dogs or cats or the sale or transfer of 31 or more dogs per year. AKC GR issued letters of concern and a legislative alert. HB 608 was tabled in the Senate Business and Labor Committee and did not advance prior to end of the legislative session.

Senate Bill 115 sought to limit the court’s discretion regarding bonds for care for animals seized under allegations of animal cruelty. It would have expanded existing law by requiring accused owners to pay impoundment costs prior to retrieving their animals even when the court directs that the animals be released to the owner pending adjudication. SB 115 would also have required the court to order payment of a bond for care in certain civil proceedings. Further, officers of an undefined “animal welfare agency” would have been empowered to order euthanization of seized animals. AKC GR issued letters of concern and a legislative alert. SB 115 did not advance in the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to end of the legislative session.

New Hampshire

House Bill 624 would have forced individuals charged with—but not convicted of— animal cruelty to forfeit ownership of their pets, even after they are later found not guilty of those charges, if they are unable to pay for a care bond for animals seized subsequent to a criminal charge. For defendants already incurring high costs to defend themselves in a criminal proceeding, the additional cost of daily boarding and care fees could have proved an impossible burden to meet. In cases where a verdict of innocence was reached or charges were dropped, a defendant unable to pay would have been permanently deprived of their property, with no recourse. AKC GR and the Dog Owners of the Granite State (DOGS) opposed HB 624. AKC GR issued a legislative alert and letter in opposition to the bill. HB 624 was heard by the House Environment and Agriculture Committee, which recommended that the bill was inexpedient to legislate, likely ending its consideration for the year.

New Mexico

House Bill 415, as introduced, sought to allow methods to fund a spay/neuter program, but also contained a provision that requires the state’s animal shelter board to develop and implement a statewide spay and neuter program. After concerns were raised by the AKC and local clubs, the Senate Public Affairs Committee amended the bill to require the board to develop a voluntary spay/neuter program, and removed the requirement that they must implement the program. The board must also develop criteria for individuals, groups, shelters and “euthanasia agencies” to receive assistance for dog and cat sterilization from the animal care and facility fund. A tax return check-off will also be included to allow donations to the program.  Some concerns remained about the lack of transparency by the animal shelter board and the lack of plan if tax donations do not fully fund the program; however, the AKC thanks those who took the time to contact the Senate and successfully got the bill amended to remove the mandatory spay/neuter concerns. The bill was signed by the governor and went into effect on July 1.

New York

Assembly Bill 5956/ Senate Bill 4327 allow dogs in outdoor eating establishments, as long as certain conditions are met. Conditions include if the owner chooses to allow dogs and the dogs are kept on leash or in a pet carrier. The dining area must also follow specific guidelines, including having a separate entrance for diners bringing their dogs and posting clear signage stating that companion dogs are allowed. The AKC supported these bills, which were signed by the governor and became effective immediately. Read AKC’s blog about this legislation.

North Carolina

A new program has been approved in North Carolina that establishes a cruelty hotline to allow North Carolina residents to report possible violations of the state’s animal cruelty law directly to the state’s attorney general.  These reports will be forwarded to local law enforcement or the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services depending on the allegation.  The person making the allegation must provide their name, telephone number and any other information required by the Attorney General’s office to adequately document and address the reported actions. This program, which is supported by the AKC, is based on Senate Bill 209, which was developed by two veterinarians serving in the North Carolina Senate.  

House Bill 199/ Senate Bill 247 would allow city councils in Raleigh and Mecklenburg County to donate retired animals that were in active service to the law enforcement or peace officer that handled/worked with the animal. The AKC supported this legislation, which was signed by the governor on August 4.

House Bill 159 would have defined “commercial breeder” as any person who owns, has custody of, or maintains 10 or more female dogs over the age of 6 months for the purpose of breeding. Kennels that keep and breed dogs primarily for hunting, sporting, field trials or show would have been exempt, but it was unclear how this would be determined. AKC GR expressed concern about defining commercial activity solely on animal ownership and transferring oversight away from those with animal husbandry expertise. The bill passed the House, but was held in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  

The North Carolina General Assembly has passed the state budget for the year without any of the controversial proposed provisions that could have impacted responsible dog owners and breeders. The proposals included a transfer of state animal welfare oversight away from the Department of Agriculture and a tax on veterinary and other dog services. The AKC thanks those who took the time to contact the legislature in support of responsible dog owners in the state. Read more about this victory for North Carolina dog owners and breeders. 

Rhode Island

House Bill 5800 sought to reinstate localities’ breed-specific ordinances that were enacted prior to the state’s 2013 ban on such local laws. AKC GR publicly opposed HB 5800. The Rhode Island House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee considered the bill on April 29 and recommended it be held for further study. This likely ends consideration of this bill for the remainder of the current legislative session.

House Bill 5573 sought to do away with exemptions from the state’s restrictions on tethering for hunters, field trial participants, persons raising or training hunting dogs, and sled dog owners. AKC GR publicly opposed HB 5573. The Rhode Island House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee considered the bill and recommended it be held for further study, likely ending its consideration for the remainder of the current legislative session.
 

Oregon

House Bill 3494 would have banned the practice of debarking unless it is medically necessary to treat an injury, illness, or congenital defect.  AKC GR worked with the National Animal Interest Alliance, AKC’s Oregon federation, to alert local fanciers about this measure and sent a letter to all members of the Senate explaining the problems with this bill. The measure died when the legislature adjourned in mid-July. 

Tennessee

House Bill 1142 and Senate Bill 1020 sought to require licensing, fees, and inspections for “professional breeders”, defined as a person who possesses or controls ten or more unsterilized female dogs over the age of 6 months for the primary purpose of breeding and selling the offspring as pets.  These bills would also grant access to dog owners’ private property and give enforcement powers to “appointees” who are not government employees or law enforcement officers and would further empower “appointees” and “designees” to be granted administrative warrants to come onto the property and examine the records of any dog owner to determine if a violation has occurred.  Such authority could be granted based on a “complaint”. AKC GR issued letters of concern and legislative alerts about these bills.  HB 1142 was withdrawn and SB 1020 was deferred to the 2016 legislative session.