The following list provides some of the highlights of AKC Government Relations’ (AKC GR) legislative successes through December 30, 2013. 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 2013, as well as the latest information on all bills being tracked by the AKC Government Relations Department, visit the AKC 2013 Legislation Tracking page. To see a list of legislative successes from 2012, click here.
- Arkansas — House Bill 2160 sought to require sterilization of dogs and cats over the age of six months unless the owner qualified for an intact animal license. Exemptions would have been be provided for owners of purebreds registered by a professional registering organization; certain military, law enforcement and search-and-rescue dogs; service dogs; and dogs used for hunting or field trial competition. The bill would have required dogs used for hunting or field trial competitions to be kept in "appropriate pens" at all times when not engaged in hunting, competition, or related activities. AKC GR issued legislative alerts and sent letters of opposition. HB 2160 did not advance in committee.
- Connecticut – House Bill 6311 would prohibit towns from "addressing the issue of dangerous dogs in a breed-specific manner." The bill, supported by AKC GR and its state federation, was signed by the Governor in early June. It will go into effect on October 1, 2013. Read more about this victory for Connecticut dog owners.
- Connecticut – House Bill 6690 would have permitted courts to order that a separate, independent advocate be assigned to represent the interests of animals. AKC GR issued several legislative alerts and letters that expressed concern with the unintended and potentially far-reaching consequences this proposal could have on the legal status of animals in the state, and worked with the state federation in opposition to this bill. The measure was re-referred to committee and was not considered prior to the end of session.
- Georgia — The Chatham County Board of Commissioners did not take action on proposed amendments to the county animal control ordinance at its January 25, 2013 meeting. The proposed amendments would have required: spay/neuter of dogs age six months and older unless the owner qualified for an exemption, limited male and female animals to one litter per year, required microchipping of dogs age four months and older, and defined “responsible pet ownership” in vague and problematic terms. AKC GR alerted area dog owners and sent a letter of concern to the Board of Commissioners.
- Hawaii — House Bill 233 would have required licensing of "commercial dog breeders" subject to unnamed fees and prohibited ownership or custody of more than 50 intact dogs over the age of six months. A commercial dog breeder would have been defined as a person who owns or has custody of more than ten intact female dogs over the age of six months for the purpose of breeding those dogs and selling or transferring their offspring. Under this vague definition, an owner of 10 intact female dogs could have been subject to commercial breeder licensing if a single puppy was sold or placed. AKC GR issued a legislative alert and sent letters of opposition. HB 233 was deferred by the House Economic Development and Business Committee.
- Hawaii — Senate Bill 414 SD2 sought to require licensing of persons who own or have custody of ten or more intact dogs over the age of 12 months and sell more than 3 litters or more than 25 dogs per year. The bill would have prohibited ownership or custody of more than 30 intact dogs over 1 year of age, established problematic enclosure standards, and prohibited breeding any dog older than age 8. It would have allowed counties to contract with any "dog protective agency" for seizure of dogs belonging to breeders not in compliance with any rule and dogs belonging to unlicensed breeders. Operating without a license would have been subject to a penalty of $1,000 per day. Any failure to comply with standards and recordkeeping requirements would have been subject to penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation. AKC GR issued legislative alerts and sent letters of opposition. SB 414 passed the Senate, but was not heard by the House Economic Development and Business Committee.
- Illinois – House Bill 1648 would have required organizers of coonhound events with more than 25 participants to notify via certified mail landlords of properties adjacent to the event location 30 days prior to the event and comply with other new provisions. At the request of the AKC, the sponsor amended the bill to exempt local events with entries on the day of the event, so long as they reasonably expect to have fewer than 25 entries and do not last longer than three days. AKC GR and AKC Coonhounds greatly appreciated the sponsor’s willingness to consider the concerns of local coonhound clubs. The bill passed the House, but was held in the Senate Assignments Committee. This issue may be brought up again in a future session.
- Kansas — Senate Bill 57 as introduced made several changes to the Kansas Pet Animal Act. AKC had several concerns with the bill, including significant license fee increases and mandatory inspections of all licensees — including hobby breeders. AKC GR sent a letter of concern and issued a legislative alert to Kansas clubs and breeders prior to the bill’s consideration in the Senate Agriculture Committee. The committee significantly amended the bill to remove all concerning provisions, and this new substitute bill unanimously passed the Senate.
- Louisiana — The City of Westwego proposed an ordinance that would have incorporated harsher breed-specific restrictions and ownership and breeding limits. AKC GR issued several legislative alerts, sent letters to the council, and worked with local fanciers and city officials in opposition to the proposal. The sponsor withdrew the measure from consideration. Read more about this victory.
- Maine — LD 395 would have created a cause of action for noneconomic damages to be collected by a pet owner when another person or the person’s animal kills or fatally injures the pet. AKC GR issued a letter of opposition and a legislative alert. The bill was defeated in committee.
- Maine — LD 1202 sought to more strictly define the term "practice of veterinary medicine", meaning that even minor care such as attaching a flea-and-tick collar or applying spot-type parasite treatments could only be performed by a licensed veterinarian. AKC GR issued a legislative alert and sent a letter of concern. The bill did not advance in committee at the sponsor's request.
- Maryland — House Bill 178 sought to change the dangerous dog laws and establish more requirements for those who own a dog that has been declared “dangerous”. Current law defines a “potentially dangerous dog” as one that bites a person, kills or inflicts severe injury on a domestic animal (when the dog is off the owner’s property), or attacks without provocation. Under this bill, if a dog committed these actions a second time in its lifetime, then it would be declared dangerous and the owner will be subject to numerous new requirements, including obtaining over $300,000 of liability insurance and a dangerous dog registration certificate that states the dog has been sterilized. AKC GR and its Maryland federation expressed numerous concerns with this bill. HB 178 received an “unfavorable report” from the House Judiciary Committee and will not advance this session.
- Massachusetts – SB 969 would have allowed cities and towns to enact breed-specific dangerous dog legislation. The AKC and the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (MassFed) both strongly oppose the bill. The AKC issued a legislative alert on the matter, and continues to work with MassFed in opposition to the proposal. SB 969 was heard by the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government in early June. The bill was sent to "study" on September 23, effectively ending its consideration. Read more about this victory.
- Minnesota — HF 84 / SF 36 would have imposed licensing, care and conditions standards, inspections, and reporting requirements for "commercial breeders," defined as those who possess or have an ownership interest in animals and are engaged in the business of breeding animals for sale or for exchange in return for consideration, and who possess ten or more adult intact animals and whose animals produce more than five total litters of puppies per year. Those not meeting the numerical thresholds of the commercial breeder definition would have been considered a "hobby breeder". AKC GR issued legislative alerts, letters of concern to lawmakers, and worked with Minnesota dog owners to address this proposal. Both bills failed to pass the March 15 policy committee action deadline, and further consideration is not expected this year. AKC GR will continue to closely monitor this issue throughout the remainder of Minnesota’s legislative session.
- Montana — House Bill 439 would have defined any person or entity that possessed 11 or more intact female dogs for the purpose of breeding as a "commercial dog breeder" and required registration, inspections, and fees for "commercial dog breeding" facilities. AKC GR sent a legislative alert and a letter of concern to committee members. HB439 has been tabled by the House Agriculture Committee.
- Nevada — Assembly Bill 110 revises provisions relating to dangerous dogs and specifically prohibits dogs from being declared dangerous solely based on their breed. It further precludes local governments from adopting ordinances that declare specific breeds as inherently dangerous. AKC GR supported this measure, which was signed by the Governor.
- New Hampshire — House Bill 497 would have made significant changes to the state’s animal cruelty statutes, including defining “negligence” as when “a person acts inattentively or carelessly when he or she fails to become aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that exists or will result for the animal from his or her conduct.” The AKC found that the changed definition was unnecessary and that current law already provides a complete system for the reporting and enforcement of negligent treatment of animals. AKC GR and its New Hampshire federation opposed this bill. The bill was voted “inexpedient to legislate” on February 12. Read more about this legislation .
- New Mexico — House Bill 258 sought to make several changes to New Mexico’s dangerous dog laws, including establishing strict liability for dog owners if their dog bites someone on public or private property (including the owner’s property). The past behavior of the dog, or the owner’s lack of knowledge of the dog’s “viciousness” could not have been considered a defense. Thanks to the numerous phone calls and letters sent to the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee and the bill’s sponsor, the bill was withdrawn. AKC GR thanks the sponsor for his willingness to listen to the concerns of responsible dog owners in New Mexico.
- New York – Assembly Bill 1204/Senate Bill 2271 would have banned the practice of canine “devocalization”. The only exemptions would have been for instances when it is medically necessary to treat or relieve a physical illness or an abnormality causing pain or harm. The bill would also have revoked the licenses of veterinarians performing the procedure. A 1204 passed the Assembly. Both bills were held (stopped) in the Senate Agriculture Committee. The New York legislature is currently in recess, and a slight possibility remains that they could reconvene before the end of the year. AKC GR will continue to monitor legislative activity in the state.
North Carolina – House Bill 956 would have
defined Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terries, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, Chows, Presa Canarios and "American pit bull terriers" as "aggressive
dog breeds." Among other provisions, owners would also have been required to submit to a background check and obtain a special permit prior to owning one of these
breeds. AKC Government Relations sent a letter of opposition
to the sponsor, along with materials explaining why breed-specific legislation is inappropriate and ineffective. The bill will not advance this session and AKC GR
has provided resources and continues to work with the sponsor on developing more reasonable and effective solutions to dangerous dog concerns.
- Oklahoma — Senate Bill 32 would have allowed municipalities to restrict the ownership of any breed of dog. The AKC sent a letter of concern to the sponsor and provided materials discussing the inherent problems with breed-specific laws and suggestions for more effective solutions. The sponsor withdrew the bill and it will not be considered this session.
- Rhode Island — House Bill 5287/Senate Bill 178 would have regulated “pit bulls” (or dogs believed to be “pit bulls”) and imposed numerous requirements on their owners. AKC GR issued a legislative alert, encouraging Rhode Island residents to contact the committees in opposition to these bills. Both were withdrawn by the sponsors prior to any hearings being scheduled. Read more about these victories for Rhode Island dog owners.
- Rhode Island — H 5431 would have expanded the definition of "guardian" that already appears in the state’s pet care laws, to include animal rights or animal welfare groups incorporated in Rhode Island. The AKC has issued both a legislative alert and a letter in strong opposition to the proposal. On March 20, the Judiciary Committee recommended that the measure be held for further study, effectively ending consideration of the proposal for the remainder of the session.
- Rhode Island – House Bill 5671 prevents any city or town from enacting any breed-specific policy. AKC GR sent letters in support of this measure, which was signed by the Governor on July 16 and takes effect immediately. Rhode Island is now the fifteenth state to prohibit breed-specific laws.
- Tennessee — House Bill 621 would have enacted unreasonable definitions of "dangerous" and "vicious" dogs. Under this bill, a dog would have been declared dangerous (or vicious) for biting another animal, which could have included a terrier that killed a mouse or a herding dog that defended its flock against predators. Also, a dog could have been declared dangerous based on the vague provision that it was "capable" of causing serious bodily injury or death to humans or animals, or it was a danger to property. AKC GR issued a legislative alert and sent letters of opposition. The bill was taken off notice in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.
Vermont – House Bill 50, which deals with several aspects of animal ownership in the state, has passed both houses of the Vermont legislature and was signed
by Gov. Shumlin. The passage of H 50 marked the culmination of a multi-year effort by the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs and other groups at making some much needed
improvements to Vermont's animal laws. The AKC supported H 50 and the Vermont Federation's efforts.
Read more about this
new state law.
- Wyoming - Senate File 137 would have allowed peace officers to “lawfully interfere to prevent the perpetration of any act of cruelty upon any animal” in their presence. It further allowed peace officers to take any animal found abandoned, neglected or cruelly treated. Expenses for the care of the animal could have been collected from the owner, and the local government would have a lien and keep the animal until the expenses for food, shelter, and care were paid. The bill passed the Senate, but failed in the House Committee of the Whole. Read more about this victory for Wyoming dog owners.