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.

October 2014 (for previous higlights, click here)

Massachusetts — The “Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety” bill was signed into law by Governor Patrick.  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 House has placed House Bill 5095 on the calendar for a vote, which could occur at any time.  AKC GR 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 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 already unanimously passed the Senate, while AB 2961 is under first committee consideration. The AKC supports both AB 2961 and SB 1341 as currently written, and has sent a letter of support and issued a legislative alert. Both bills have passed the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

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 fail 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. 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 York A 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.

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.