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.

November/December 2014 (for previous highlights, click here)

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 bills also include new regulations and reporting requirements for animal control and animal protection shelters. HB5095 and SB460 are pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee. The legislature is wrapping up activity for the year, and these bills could move very quickly through the Senate. AKC GR issued a legislative alert, and continues to work with the Michigan Association of Pure Bred Dogs to address concerns with this measure. Read more about how you can help fight these bills in the Senate.

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 has been assigned to the House Committee on Criminal Justice. No hearing has been scheduled.

New JerseyAssembly Bill 2961/Senate Bill 1341 supports legislation enacted in 2009 by establishing a penalty for failure to include a bittering agent in antifreeze. SB 1341 has unanimously passed the Senate, and both bills have been approved by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The AKC supports both AB 2961 and SB 1341 as currently written, and has sent a letter of support and issued a legislative alert.

New JerseyAB 3306 and SB 1870 seek to impose additional requirements on pet shops and pet dealers, including providing consumers with specific breeder information; posting information on enclosures and in internet/print advertisements; prohibiting pet shops from selling, offering for sale, or purchasing for resale, any animal purchased from any breeder/broker who fails to meet certain standards; mandating that pet shops submit annual reports to the state; and allowing localities to impose more significant restrictions. Failure to comply with the requirements and prohibitions established under the bills would result in a $500 penalty. AKC GR is working with concerned fanciers and groups to respond to the proposals. Senate Bill 1870 has passed the Senate, and both bills have passed the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

New JerseyAssembly Bill 3381, as introduced, expands the animal cruelty statute to include theft or release of animals during burglary. The AKC supports AB 3381 as currently written, and has sent a letter of support and issued a legislative alert. This bill has passed the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

New JerseyAssembly Bill 991 seeks to establish a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for harming or threatening to harm animals owned or used by a law enforcement agency or a search and rescue dog. This bill has passed the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

New JerseyAssembly Bill 2389 attempts to bar employment at animal-related enterprises, or ownership of animals, for at least two years, of those convicted of or found civilly-liable for any animal crime; permits courts to order forfeiture of animals of those found guilty/civilly-liable for violating animal statutes; provides for new animal control officer rules and regulations; and creates a statewide animal cruelty registry. This bill has passed the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

New JerseyAssembly Bill 3037 creates a minimum penalty for animal cruelty offenses and revises the state’s animal fighting laws. One provision would allow the court to sever ownership rights when someone has been convicted of cruelty. AKC has asked for an amendment to allow co-owners the opportunity to claim the animal prior to the dog being surrendered to a shelter or rescue. The bill is scheduled to be considered by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on December 11.

New YorkA 4735/S 7846 require a designated area for hand washing/sanitizing at any place where animals are “kept for the express purpose of viewing, touching, holding, and petting by patrons and visitors”. This area, which must be no more than 50 feet from the exit of the event, must be clearly designated as a hand washing facility. This could be a sink with soap and running water, or if not available, anti-bacterial gels and antiseptic wipes are acceptable. A sign must be posted by the exit that states, “Animals may carry germs and bacteria that cause disease. It is strongly recommended that persons wash their hands upon exiting.” This is a positive measure that will protect public health, and also the health of animals owned by visitors, patrons, and exhibitors. It has been signed by the governor and goes into effect in March 2015.

OhioHB 490 is an omnibus agriculture bill that includes amendments to the high volume dealer laws passed in 2012. Amendments include clarifying that cash, letters of credit, or negotiable certificates of deposit may be presented in lieu of the surety bond required in the original law. This addresses a concern expressed by numerous breeders, as the type of bond required in the law was not available in Ohio. The graduated amount of insurance coverage required by breeders has also been amended to include those who have between 51 and eighty dogs on their premises. Current law required the highest amount of insurance coverage for those with more than 50 dogs. The bill also states that a licensee does not need to provide a signed release for a background check if the applicant has not had any new convictions or has not plead guilty to Ohio’s cruelty laws in the past year, or if the Department of Agriculture does not ask the applicant to sign a release. It further states that the licensee does not have to provide photographic evidence of their facilities at the time of application; however, the department may conduct an inspection of the facilities. The bill passed the House of Representatives on November 19 and is pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee. It is possible many of these provisions will be removed in Senate committee.

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.