Government Relations

State Legislation

The American Kennel Club is dedicated to protecting the rights of all dog owners, promoting responsible dog ownership and ensuring that state laws governing dog ownership and breeding are reasonable, enforceable and non-discriminatory. AKC monitors state legislation that affects dogs and dog ownership in cooperation with AKC clubs and state federations.

Here are some highlights of state measures AKC GR is currently monitoring. For a more complete listing of all the bills AKC GR is tracking, visit AKC’s Legislative Tracking page, which is updated each weekday.

August 2014

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1520 would allow the court to appoint a Guardian ad Litem for a pet that is the subject of a pet trust in certain circumstances.  The AKC believes this measure represents an unreasonable expansion of animal rights within the legal system.  It has passed the Assembly and the Senate Judiciary Committee and is pending on the Senate floor. AKC GR sent a letter of opposition to this measure and has spoken with staff about our concerns.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1809 would require Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) for dogs entering the state for sale or transfer. The person who brings the dog into the state would be required to submit the CVI to the local county health department. The original bill would have impacted all animals coming into California, even those traveling as family pets or for participation in a show or event. AKC GR worked with the bill’s author and sponsor to amend the language in a positive manner so that dogs not intended for resale and certain other dogs are exempted. The bill has passed the Senate and is awaiting concurrence in Senate amendments from the Assembly.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1965 would authorize retail food establishments to permit dogs in outdoor eating areas. It would also allow local governments to prohibit the practice. The measure has passed both houses of the legislature and is pending before Governor Brown.

Massachusetts — The “Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety” bill recently passed both houses of the Commonwealth’s legislature, and currently awaits Governor Deval Patrick’s signature.  The bill increases fines and maximum incarceration sentences for cruelty offenders, requires veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse, and creates a new task force to review methods to prevent animal abuse.

MichiganHouse Bill 5095/ Senate Bill 560 would, among other provisions, limit the number of dogs that can be kept on a single premises and define a “large scale commercial breeder kennel” as one where more than 15 intact female dogs are kept for the purpose of breeding. The bill also includes new regulations and reporting requirements for animal control and animal protection shelters. The House Regulatory Reform Committee passed HB 5095 and it is pending action by the full House of Representatives. The Senate Agriculture Committee has heard testimony on SB 560, but no vote has been taken. The legislature recently returned from summer recess, but no hearing has been scheduled. AKC GR sent a letter of concern to the committee, issued a legislative alert, and continues to work with the Michigan Association of Pure Bred Dogs to address concerns with this measure.

MichiganHouse Bill 5721 would expand the laws regarding dangerous dogs, create a new designation of “potentially dangerous” dogs and significantly increase penalties for owners who own a dog declared “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous” and do not comply with all requirements set out in the bill.  The AKC has some concerns with the bill, including requiring a dog declared “potentially dangerous” to be sterilized, even though the designation may be removed if the owner can demonstrate that the dog no longer poses a risk to public safety.  The bill was introduced on August 13 and assigned to the House Committee on Criminal Justice.  No hearing has been scheduled.  The House is on recess until August 27. 

North CarolinaSenate Bill 744, the Appropriations Act (the state budget) for 2014, passed the General Assembly without problematic amendments initially approved by the House. The House amendments would have transferred jurisdiction of the state’s Animal Welfare Act out of the state Department of Agriculture to the Department of Public Safety, and established vague new dog dealer definitions that would have required individuals who own more than 10 intact female dogs to be licensed and regulated by the state as commercial “dog dealers”, regardless of actual breeding or commercial activity. It also would have transferred funds from the state’s spay/neuter program to set up a fund that would allow donations by private groups to pay for kennel inspections required by the proposed new regulations. These amendments were not included in the final budget that has been signed by the governor.  AKC GR encourages dog owners and breeders to contact key legislators and thank them for not allowing these problematic amendments to be included in the budget.

PennsylvaniaSenate Bill 82 would make positive changes to the commonwealth's consumer protection laws. Among other changes, it clarifies that a dog cannot be declared "unfit for purchase" if the dog has intestinal or external parasites (unless the dog is clinically ill or dies), if the dog has an injury or illness likely contracted after the sale, or if the dog has a health problem that is disclosed in writing by the seller prior to the sale. The bill would also make reasonable changes to the timeframe for when a dog may be declared unfit for purchase and when the seller must be notified. It was amended by the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee to require rescues and shelters to provide certain information regarding the animal’s health care and known illnesses prior to sale. AKC GR and its Pennsylvania federation are supporting this measure, which had unanimous support in the Senate and is pending in the House. Read more about this legislation.

PennsylvaniaSenate Bill 1068 would make several amendments regarding field trials and dog training areas in the state. These amendments include making it unlawful for anyone to “willfully, negligently or maliciously” kill, injure or interfere with a dog engaged in training or field trials within a designated dog training area. It also makes it unlawful for someone to negligently or maliciously interfere with a person training dogs, participating in field trial events, or lawfully hunting or trapping in a designated dog training area. Another amendment changes the minimum area for dog training areas from 100 acres to 50 acres. The bill unanimously passed the Senate and is pending in the House Game and Fisheries Committee. Read more about this bill.