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Porter County (IN) Proposal Targets Hobbyists and Dog Owners

(Thursday, June 07, 2012)

The Porter County Board of Commissioners has proposed approximately 40 pages of changes to its animal control code, including numerous dangerous dog regulations and harsh hobbyist restrictions. Among the restrictions is a requirement that anyone who breeds a litter or owns 5 intact “domestic pets” in a single year must comply with the standards and requirements established by the USDA for commercial breeding regulations and be subject to periodic inspections.

The proposal states that since it is believed that these regulations are in the best interest of the county, they will supersede all current laws that cities in Porter County have already enacted, unless a city passes an ordinance specifically refusing to implement these policies.

While no hearing date has yet been scheduled, the proposal could be considered as early as June 19. Responsible dog owners who reside or attend dog events in Porter County are strongly encouraged to contact the Porter County Commission and express concerns with the proposal as currently written. (Click on the link for the names and contact information for the commissioners).

Summary:

The AKC is concerned with numerous provisions, including, but not limited to:

  • Definition of “Breeding Kennel” – The proposal defines a breeding kennel as anyone who produces one or more litters in a year from domestic pets that they own or harbor. It is unclear if this would include owners of stud dogs. It would also include those who own 5 or more intact animals of the same species. (Note: At the beginning of the proposal, a kennel is defined as those who own 10 or more intact animals, but a later section of the proposal states that anyone who owns at least 5 intact animals must obtain a breeding kennel permit. The commission needs to clarify this).

  • Overly burdensome requirements for kennel permit holders – All who meet the definition of “breeding kennel” must obtain a license, comply with numerous requirements, and be subject to periodic inspections. The ordinance states that the county will adopt USDA regulations as the standard “for operation and inspection of kennels.” The cost of the license is yet to be determined.

    The AKC believes it is inappropriate to require hobby breeders and owners of intact dogs to be required to comply with federal regulations designed for large-scale commercial operations and never intended for oversight of small hobby operations. The requirements in this proposal for kennel permit holders or hobby breeders are significantly more burdensome than state requirements for commercial breeders!

  • Requirement that all owners of intact animals obtain a breeder permit – Anyone who owns intact dogs must apply for an annual “no-fee breeder permit”, and must re-apply every year. This would allow the permit holder to own intact dogs and sell/trade/receive compensation for one litter per year. It would require owners to register the litter with animal control and obtain a county “number” prior to the sale of any puppies. AKC believes that responsible dog owners should not be singled out simply because they choose to own intact animals.

    Anyone who owns intact animals (or qualifies as a “breeding kennel”) and does not have the proper permit or cannot produce the permit upon request from law enforcement would have their animals impounded.

  • Mandatory sterilization of “dangerous dogs”, even if designation removed – The proposal creates three designations for dogs acting in an aggressive manner: “potentially hazardous”, “dangerous”, and “vicious”. The AKC believes the varying degrees are appropriate to distinguish dogs that are truly a danger to the community from those who were involved in one minor incident.

    Our concern, however, is that dogs classified as “dangerous” must be sterilized within 30 days of receiving the designation, even though the proposal allows the owner to appeal to have the designation removed if there have been significant, positive changes in the animal’s behavior. Sterilization should not be mandatory if the designation can be removed.

  • Numerous vague provisions – There are many vague and unclear provisions in this proposal. For example, owners whose animals have been impounded have five days to claim them; however, if the animals are part of a litter and not old enough to have developed natural immunity or to have been vaccinated, then ownership rights are forfeited and the puppies may be adopted after 3 days. While the AKC understands the concern that young puppies should not be kept in a shelter, they may also be too young to be adopted, and this may not be enough time for the owners to claim the animals, particularly if it is not known what days/times the shelter may be open.

    Also of concern is the ability of animal control to deny a kennel or breeder permit or to refuse to allow an owner to reclaim an animal from the shelter for “any…good and sufficient reason.” The AKC believes these reasons should be clearly defined.

The numerous vague provisions and stringent requirements on hobby breeders and owners of intact dogs make this proposal unreasonable and nearly impossible to enforce. AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) encourages all responsible dog owners in Porter County and those who participate in dog activities in the county to respectfully urge the Porter County Commission to oppose the ordinance as currently written.

AKC GR will provide more details as they become available. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.