AKC 2012 Legislative Successes

The following list provides some of the highlights of AKC Government Relations' (AKC GR) legislative successes through December 20, 2012. 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 2012, as well as the latest information on all bills being tracked by the AKC Government Relations Department, visit the AKC 2012 Legislation Tracking page. To see a list of legislative successes from 2011, click here.

  • Arizona – The Pima County Animal Care Center Director tabled a proposal that would have imposed numerous requirements on all breeders in unincorporated areas of Pima County. Requirements would have included obtaining a $200 litter permit for every litter whelped and keeping records on all ownership transfers for 10 years. Some members of the Pima Animal Care Center Advisory Committee also proposed mandatory spay/neuter provisions.  AKC Government Relations notified local residents of the committee meeting, provided talking points, and sent a letter of opposition to the committee.  Read more about this victory.
  • Georgia – In response to a citizen’s request to ban "pit bulls," Hinesville city leaders discussed dangerous dog measures at a July planning workshop. AKC GR sent a letter and information in support of fair measures that do not discriminate against owners of specific breeds. The city council determined that revisions to the city’s animal control ordinance will not include breed-specific provisions. AKC GR and the Georgia Canine Coalition continue to offer assistance in crafting a fair and reasonable dangerous dog ordinance.
  • Hawaii – House Bill 108 was introduced as a dog fighting bill and passed by the House in 2011. The bill was amended late in the 2012 session to include provisions from Senate Bill 2494 and Senate Bill 2504. As amended, HB108 would have required owners of ten or more unsterilized dogs over the age of four months to pay a $500 biennial license fee, allow unannounced inspections, and comply with requirements detrimental to the safekeeping of dogs. The bill also would have prohibited ownership of more than 30 intact dogs and placed arbitrary restrictions on breeders. Recordkeeping violations and minor offenses unrelated to humane care could have resulted fines of $1000 per offense and confiscation of the dogs. AKC GR sent legislative alerts and letters of concern, and Hawaii club members and dog owners worked diligently to inform lawmakers about the inherent problems with the bill. HB108 passed in the Senate; however, the House disagreed with Senate amendments. The bill did not receive a conference committee hearing prior to end of session.
  • HawaiiSenate Bill 2492 would have designated every owner and keeper of ten or more intact dogs over the age of four months as a "large scale breeding facility," even if the person bred no litters and sold no puppies. The bill would have established enclosure requirements detrimental to the care and safety of dogs, restricted breeding decisions, and prohibited ownership or custody of more than thirty intact dogs. AKC GR sent legislative alerts and submitted written testimony to lawmakers. SB2492 passed the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee, but was not heard by the House Finance Committee.
  • HawaiiSenate Bill 2494 would have required owners of ten or more intact dogs to pay a $500 biennial license fee, allow unannounced inspections of their facilities, limited their ability to make decisions about breeding their dog, and prohibited ownership of more than 30 intact dogs. The bill further provided that those operating without a license or licensees in violation of any of the care or recordkeeping requirements could be charged fines of up to $1000 for each offense. AKC issued a legislative alert and submitted written testimony to lawmakers. The measure passed the Senate and was deferred by a House joint committee.
  • HawaiiSenate Bill 2504, as introduced, would have prohibited selling or giving away an unsterilized cat or dog in the state. AKC GR submitted written testimony, sent letters of opposition, and issued a legislative alert. SB2504 received overwhelming opposition at a public hearing. The joint committee responded by passing amendments that deleted the mandatory sterilization provision and the bill passed in the Senate. As further amended in House committees, SB2504 would have established requirements for pet retailers and prohibited the sale or exchange of dogs and cats in a public place, except by humane societies, animal control, and rescue organizations. The bill did not advance to the House floor.
  • Illinois – The Humane Society of Decatur and Macon County sought to collect 1,000 signatures on two petitions that would have asked lawmakers to impose mandatory spay/neuter provisions on both the City of Decatur and Macon County. The first petition asked for a law that would require sterilization for all dogs 5 months of age or older. The second petition proposed that any dog or cat considered a "stray" should be sterilized at the owner's expense prior to release from the shelter. It is presumed that this could have included any dog or cat found at large even one time. With both petitions, exemptions would have been made for those with breeding licenses (which are already required for anyone breeding a dog), "proven show dogs or cats" (although this is not defined), and for owners who obtained a letter from their veterinarian stating their dog is not healthy enough for the procedure.  AKC GR worked with the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners (IFDCO) to educate county officials about the numerous problems with these proposals.  AKC GR also notified local residents and asked them to contact their lawmakers. Thanks to these grassroots efforts, county officials confirmed that as of December 20, 2012, they have not been presented with the petitions and have not been asked to consider any new dog laws.  AKC GR and IFDCO will continue to closely monitor this issue. 
  • Indiana – The Porter County Commission has agreed to not move forward with 40 pages of changes to their animal control laws.  These changes would have included requiring anyone who breeds a litter or owns five intact "domestic pets" in a year to comply with the standards established by the USDA for commercial breeders, and be subject to periodic inspections of private homes.  The commission and other public officials agreed to rewrite the ordinance.  AKC GR, local AKC clubs, AKC’s Indiana federation will continue to work with officials to develop an effective, reasonable alternative.  AKC GR issued legislative alerts, provided an alert for distribution at area shows, and worked with its Indiana federation and local clubs in opposition to this proposal.  Read more about this victory for Porter County dog owners.
  • Iowa – Senate File 2290 sought to create guidelines for the disposition of dogs and cats when, for any reason, a commercial breeder’s license is not renewed. Under current law, anyone who owns four or more intact dogs/cats and sells, exchanges, or leases their offspring (or offers to do so) in return for consideration must be licensed as a "commercial breeder". SF 2290 would have given a "commercial breeder" whose license is not renewed 120 days to either sterilize or "dispose" of their animals until they are under the threshold of four intact cats/dogs. This could have been done by selling the animals (if the breeder is able to obtain a temporary authorization), transferring the title, or "humane destruction".  AKC GR wrote letters of concern, issued Legislative Alerts, and worked with local breeders to address concerns with this bill.  SF 2290 was held in the Senate. 
  • Iowa – Senate File 2301 would have made two significant changes to the requirements for "commercial breeders." As introduced, it would have required licensees to obtain a surety bond or irrevocable letter of credit that would be used to pay for boarding if their animals were seized as a result of a cruelty violation. It also would have ended the option of a public hearing for applicants who had been denied a license. Due to concerns expressed over the bonding issue, a proposed amendment to SF 2301 would have instead created a new fund (from license fees) to reimburse local authorities who seized animals pending the outcome of a cruelty case. Owners could still have been required to pay for the upkeep of seized animals throughout the judicial process.   AKC GR wrote letters of concern, issued Legislative Alerts, and worked with local breeders in opposition to this bill.  SF 2301 passed the Senate but was held in the House of Representatives.
  • Louisiana – House Bill 163 would have further restricted the maximum number of dogs a person may own or keep to 75 dogs and imposed baseline care and conditions requirements, including prohibiting the stacking of cages – even temporarily at dog events – and all use of wire flooring.  AKC GR issued legislative alerts on the bill and made numerous contacts with stakeholders. HB 163 was to be considered by the House Agriculture committee in April, but the bill was deferred.
  • Maryland – House Bill 912 sought to change the word "owner" to "guardian" in reference to dogs in state code, thereby potentially changing the interpretation of who must obtain state and county kennel licenses and individual dog licenses and who would be held responsible under nuisance and dangerous dog laws. The AKC alerted parent clubs, Maryland clubs, and breeders about this measure, sent a letter to the committee, and worked with its Maryland federation in opposition to the bill.  The bill was given an unfavorable report by the House Environmental Matters Committee, meaning it is not likely to be considered again this session. Read more about this victory.
  • Maryland – The Hagerstown City Council decided to hold a proposal that would have placed numerous restrictions on "pit bulls", defined as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers, American pit bull terriers, American bulldogs, or any dog with similar physical characteristics.  The proposal also contained several inaccurate statements about these breeds.  AKC GR issued a Legislative Alert, sent a letter of opposition, and worked with its Maryland federation and other concerned groups to educate the council.
  • Massachusetts – Senate Bill 2192 was signed by Governor Deval Patrick in early August. The bill creates a new statewide definition of "dangerous dog" that prevents a dog from being declared dangerous only because of the dog's breed; provides for state inspection of kennels; and establishes the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund to help offset costs associated with the medical care of dogs and cats owned by low-income residents or that are not owned, and to assist with the training of animal control officers. A last minute amendment to the bill also requires all outdoor enclosures to be at least 100 square feet in size. Click here for information on SB 2192.
  • Michigan – The Ionia City Council rejected a proposed ordinance which would have prohibited residents from owning "pit bulls," defined as American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American pit bull terriers.  The AKC GR department sent a letter to the councilmembers and provided local dog owners with educational materials for councilmembers. The city instead opted to form a committee to evaluate the current ordinance and see what positive changes can be made.
  • Mississippi – The Tupelo City Council declined to vote on a proposed ordinance that would have established additional restrictions and requirements for owners of "pit bull terriers," including American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and mixes of those breeds. AKC GR sent a letter to the council to express concerns with the measure and to recommend repeal of existing breed-specific provisions, and provided talking points to AKC club members who opposed the ordinance.
  • Missouri – The City of Wentzville passed an ordinance that repeals the citywide ban on "pit bulls" and increases the number of animals a person may own in city limits.  Under the "pit bull" ban, Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American pit bull terriers (or any mixes of these breeds) were banned in the city.  The city also limited ownership to three dogs or cats of any breed.  This new law replaces the breed-specific policies (BSL) with general definitions of "dangerous, vicious or ferocious animal", as well as "nuisance animal."  It also allows owners to keep up to ten animals with a kennel license.  AKC GR alerted regional dog clubs and breeders and sent a letter to the Board of Alderman supporting the BSL repeal and thanking them for increasing the number of animals a person may own.  The letter also encouraged the board to consider introducing an ordinance that would repeal the limit law in its entirety.
  • New Hampshire – As introduced, Senate Bill 370 would have placed numerous restrictions and regulations on those who own at least 10 female dogs.  The bill would also have limited ownership to 50 intact dogs, mandated that all tail docking be done by a veterinarian and with anesthesia, and allowed any local humane society, animal control officer, or SPCA to investigate complaints.  The AKC issued a Legislative Alert, letter of concern to the committee, and worked closely with its New Hampshire federation to educate the committee on the many concerns with this bill.  The Senate Executive Departments Committee unanimously voted to delete the bill in its entirety and replace it with language to clarify that local law enforcement has the ability to investigate complaints and prosecute violations of the domestic animal abuse laws.
  • New Mexico – A New Mexico senator had sought to introduce legislation for 2012 that would have declared all "pit bulls" dangerous, unless they were American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers or American pit bull terriers registered with the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club. Since the New Mexico Legislature has a short 30-day session in 2012, special permission was required by the Governor for the bill to be introduced. The AKC sent a letter of opposition to the sponsor and the Governor, and worked with local clubs to oppose such legislation. The Governor agreed to not allow this legislation to be introduced in the 2012 session.
  • New Jersey – The Delaware Township Board of Health rejected a restrictive dog ownership and breeding proposal after hearing from numerous constituents opposed to the measure. The proposal contained numerous inaccurate findings, would have limited ownership to six intact dogs over seven months of age, and restricted breeders to two litters in a 24-month period. AKC GR issued a Legislative Alert, contacted the Board of Health and Township Council to express concerns, and worked closely with the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs in opposition to this proposal. Read more about this victory.
  • New Jersey – The Manasquan Borough Council defeated a proposal to ban dog breeding after determining that certain language in the draft might have created unintended consequences for private breeders. A new draft of the proposal is expected to be introduced at the September 4th meeting and is expected to protect dog and cat breeding in private homes and kennels. AKC GR and the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs continue to provide information to the council. Read more about this issue.
  • New York – Assembly Bill 3431 sought to ban the practice of debarking except for cases when it is deemed medically necessary to treat or relieve a physical illness, disease or injury or correct a congenital abnormality suffered by the animal that causes or may cause physical pain or harm. The bill would have imposed stiff penalties on violators, including a fine and/or imprisonment. Veterinarians in violation would have been subject to license suspension or revocation. AKC GR issued legislative alerts and letters of opposition to lawmakers. A. 3431 passed the Assembly but was held in the Senate. The New York Legislature has adjourned and is not expected to return this year. Read more about this success.
  • New York – The Ballston Spa Village Board tabled a proposed 5-dog limit law after hearing from numerous concerned AKC club members and dog owners. This limit would have included any dogs harbored in a household within city limits – meaning the threshold could have included dogs staying temporarily on a property, even if they are not owned by the resident. AKC GR sent a letter of opposition, and issued a Legislative Alert, and notified parent clubs and local constituents, as well as show chairmen and secretaries overseeing the shows in Ballston Spa in August.  Read more about this victory.
  • North Carolina – The Dunn City Council rejected a proposal by the city police chief that would have banned “pit bulls” (defined as Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers) in city limits.  The proposal also contained numerous inaccurate and offensive statements about these breeds.  AKC GR sent a letter of opposition and issued a Legislative Alert.  The council will reportedly form a committee to examine current laws and draft new policies that are not breed-specific.  AKC GR has sent the council a letter of thanks along with additional information on how to develop effective dangerous dog laws.
  • Ohio House Bill 14 removes the term "pit bull" from the state's definition of "vicious dog" and creates new designations of "nuisance" and "dangerous" based on a dog's behavior. The AKC supported the efforts of its Ohio federation and numerous responsible dog owners by issuing Legislative Alerts, sending letters to the General Assembly and Governor, and communicating with the sponsor on amendments to ensure an effective law.  The bill overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives and State Senate and was signed by Governor Kasich on February 21.  Read more about this significant victory for Ohio dog owners.
  • OhioSenate Bill 130 regulates "high volume" dog breeders in Ohio, defined as those who produce 9 litters of puppies and sell 60 puppies in a calendar year. Those who meet this definition are required to obtain an annual license and inspection. The inspections may be conducted by local veterinarians. Standards of care will be established by the state Department of Agriculture and reviewed by an advisory board. As introduced, Senate Bill 130 would have negatively impacted hobbyists and sportsmen, created a new governmental dog breeding oversight board with no breeder representation, and instituted unreasonable engineering requirements and standards of care not in the best interest of dogs. Another bill introduced would have created even more unreasonable standards and regulated ear cropping and tail docking.  This second bill never received a hearing, and most amendments recommended by AKC GR and AKC’s Ohio federation were incorporated into the final version of SB 130.  Governor Kasich signed the measure into law on December 11. Read more about this success for Ohio dog owners and breeders.
  • Ohio The Cincinnati City Council approved a repeal of the city’s breed-specific law. Previously the city banned the ownership, transfer, sale, or harboring of any "pit bull terrier" (defined as Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier or any mixed-breed containing one of these breeds) within city limits. AKC GR notified parent and local clubs of the proposal, sent letters in support of the repeal, and communicated with the sponsor’s office on multiple occasions regarding talking points and strategy. The council has established an advisory committee to examine the city’s animal control laws and develop other solutions. AKC and its Ohio federation will continue to monitor this committee. Read more about this victory.
  • Oklahoma – House Bill 2921 makes several positive changes to the state's dog breeder regulations. Changes include dissolving the controversial Commercial Pet Breeder Board and moving oversight to Oklahoma Department of Agriculture. Other changes include amending the definition of "adult animal" from 6 months of age to 12 months of age and the definition of "intact female animal" from a female 6 months of age to 9 months of age. The AKC believes that these measures are an important step toward fair oversight of dog breeders in Oklahoma and issued several Legislative Alerts and letters concerning the changes. The bill was signed by the Governor on May 29, 2012.
  • PennsylvaniaHouse Bill 2409 would have forced owners to relinquish their animals when they are accused of cruelty, regardless of whether the charges are ultimately dismissed. The AKC was concerned with several provisions in this bill, including the forfeiture of all ownership rights if the accused fails to pay the amount mandated by the court at any time during the trial. The bill passed the House and was held in the Senate Judiciary Committee. AKC GR issued a legislative alert, sent letters of concern, and worked with the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs to address concerns with this bill. Read more about this legislation.
  • Rhode IslandSenate Bill 2193 sought to virtually eliminate the veterinary procedure commonly known as debarking from being performed in the state. AKC GR issued Legislative Alerts, sent letters of concern to the legislature, and worked with concerned dog owners and other allied organizations in opposition to the bill.  The Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee held the bill for further study, and AKC GR does not expect the bill to be reconsidered this session.
  • South Dakota – The Aberdeen City Council voted 6-3 not to pursue a breed-specific ordinance that would have limited the residents’ abilities to own "pit bulls." "Pit bull" was defined as American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American pit bull terriers, and any dog displaying a majority of the physical characteristics of any of these breeds.  AKC GR sent materials opposing the proposal and has offered assistance to residents who are working to develop training and public education opportunities for dog owners in the community.
  • Tennessee – A proposed Shelby County, Tennessee animal cruelty ordinance that included overly broad and vague definitions was tabled indefinitely by county commissioners. AKC GR sent letters of concern, and provided information and alternate language that was accepted by the measure's sponsor regarding "standards of care" for dogs in vehicles.
  • Utah – The Salt Lake City Council adopted several changes to its animal control laws, including repealing the two-dog ownership limit at its meeting on February 7, 2012. AKC GR sent a letter in support of the limit law repeal.
  • Virginia – House Bill 158 sought to add debarking to the state’s definition of animal cruelty and charge anyone who performs the practice with a Class 1 misdemeanor. The Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee recommended to postpone this legislation until 2013, meaning that it will not be considered this year. AKC GR sent a letter of opposition to the subcommittee, issued a Legislative Alert, and worked with the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs & Breeders to educate the sponsor and subcommittee on this issue. Read more about this victory.
  • West Virginia – Senate Bill 406 would have imposed numerous regulations on "commercial dog breeders", which was defined as anyone who "maintains" eleven or more intact dogs over one year of age and breeds dogs exclusively as household pets.  The AKC opposed several provisions, including arbitrary care and conditions requirements and a 50-dog ownership limit.  As amended by the Senate, the bill exempted anyone who keeps or breeds dogs "for the purpose of herding or guarding livestock animals, hunting, tracking or exhibiting in dog shows, performance events or field and obedience trials..." The AKC believed, however, that these exemptions were vague and may not have truly protected hobbyists.  The AKC issued numerous Legislative Alerts and letters of concern and also worked closely with concerned dog owners in opposition.  SB 406 passed the Senate and was held in the House Judiciary Committee.  Read more about this win for West Virginia breeders.
  • Wisconsin – The Fond du Lac City Council agreed to table proposed breed-specific legislation during its meeting on January 25, 2012. AKC GR and its Wisconsin federation both issued alerts encouraging local residents to attend the meeting and also contact the council.
  • Wisconsin – The Kewaunee Common Council tabled a 3-pet limit on all residents. This would have included banning all "kennels" (defined more than three intact dogs or cats over 6 months of age), and prohibiting the ownership of more than three mammals, reptiles or birds. The proposal also stated that the city may declare any number of animals "determined to be detrimental to the healthful and comfortable life of that person, family or neighborhood" as a public nuisance. AKC GR notified local clubs and breeders sent a letter of opposition to the council.