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Taking Command Newsletter

Local Issues February 2021

Local/Other: Issues at the City, County, and Metropolitan Levels, and in U.S. Territories

The AKC Government Relations Department is pleased to assist dog owners with canine legislation issues in their local communities, but we can’t help unless we are aware of the proposal. Please contact us at (919) 816-3720 or when new laws are discussed or introduced in your city or county. We will provide you with resources and tools to help defend the rights of dog owners and support responsible dog ownership in your community.

Here are some examples of the local issues currently being addressed by AKC GR:

Stamford, CT – The board of representatives is interested in adopting a tethering ordinance similar to the 2020 language adopted in the state of Virginia.  The proposal would define “adequate shelter” and “adequate space”.  Tethering a dog would be prohibited in weather below 32 degrees or above 85 degrees.  AKC GR spoke at the January 19, 2020 Legislative and Rules Committee and has submitted a letter outlining the rationale for recommended changes to the proposal.  The committee is expected to meet again February 16, 2021. 

IL, Chicago – Chicago is seeking to prohibit pet stores from sourcing from rescues that are affiliated with breeders.  The proposal would also require all hobby breeders to obtain a permit and meet likely impossible requirements.  AKC GR participated in several virtual meetings with key aldermen, drafted an op-ed, and submitted written testimony.  AKC GR and its federation continue to reach out to key council members and work with other stakeholders to provide alternative solutions.  A new proposal has been introduced that allows breeders that meet certain standards to source to pet stores and provides a consumer protection law for the city, among other provisions.  Both proposals are expected to soon be considered in the Health and Human Services Committee.

IL, Aurora – Animal rights advocates are encouraging the city to consider a resolution banning retail pet sales in the city.  AKC and its state federation are communicating with the city council’s Rules, Administration, and Procedures Committee, who are holding a series of hearings to decide whether to move forward on the proposal.

GA, Maysville – The mayor and city council will hold public meetings on February 8 and 11 on an animal ordinance that includes problematic definitions and requirements.  Read more about the ordinance and how you can provide comments to council members. 

MA, Holliston – A signature petition prohibiting pet shops from selling cats and dogs unless acquired from an animal shelter or rescue was adopted at Town meeting on July 20, 2020 despite letters of concern, a legislative alert, distribution of a flyer and an Op Ed published in the local newspaper by AKC GR.  AKC GR has submitted a letter to the attorney general requesting the petition be rejected as inconsistent with state law.  The attorney general has confirmed that they will issue a legal analysis by February 24, 2021. 

MA, Marshfield – The Town of Marshfield scheduled three dog-related proposals for a vote at special town meeting in October. They include – banning the retail sale of cats and dogs unless sourced from an animal shelter/rescue; encouraging adoption of a breeder license program; and a kennel license program.  After AKC GR issued an alert and local advocates and breeders began to contact town officials, a decision was made to remove the breeder license proposal from the agenda to work on it further before re-introducing it in the spring.  The remaining two proposals were adopted.  AKC GR has submitted a letter of opposition on the pet retail ban text to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Municipal Law Unit, which is responsible for reviewing and approving new town bylaws within 90 days of adoption. Read more.  The attorney general has confirmed that they will issue a legal analysis by February 24, 2021.

MA, North Adams – In late October, the North Adams City Council was presented with a proposed pet retail ban and heard comments from Berkshire Votes for Animals and AKC GR.  The council voted to send the proposal to the General Government Committee for research and review after councilors expressed mixed reactions to the draft.  AKC GR submitted a letter of concern with a recommendation that no action be taken until the Massachusetts attorney general has issued its legal analysis of similar ordinances recently passed by Massachusetts municipalities. The committee met in early December and voted to delay action until that legal analysis has been made available.   AKC GR is monitoring the process and will provide additional testimony at the appropriate time.

ME, Saco – In response to notice that the board had scheduled a public hearing on February 1, 2021 regarding changes to the dog ordinance, AKC GR submitted suggested exceptions to when a dog might appropriately be off leash and off their owner’s property.  The board highlighted exceptions it found reasonable and is working to amend the draft.

NC, Burke County – Burke County is considering mandatory breeder permits and other regulations.  AKC has been working with local sporting dog enthusiasts and fanciers to communicate concerns to the Animal Advisory Board and county commission.  In December, the advisory committee voted unanimously to table the breeder permit and instead work with AKC on breeder standards of care.  AKC is working with local breeders and the Burke County Animal Control on next steps in anticipation of a meeting on February 17.

PA, Westtown Township – Westtown Township, Chester County, PA, was working on a dog ordinance designed primarily to address nuisances like barking, owners not cleaning up after dogs, and dogs running at large.  The Planning Commission first recommended a proposal which would have basically instituted a problematic “leash law” throughout the municipality.  Working with a local resident and the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, AKC GR was able to provide sample ordinances to the Planning Commission which better addressed the issue of dogs running at large.  The Planning Commission took the information and revised the original ordinance and rewrote the section on dogs running at large which vastly improved the section for both dogs and responsible dog owners.  The proposed ordinance is awaiting final approval by the Board of Supervisors at an upcoming meeting. Read more.

RI, Tiverton – AKC GR has been working with the sponsor of a proposed nuisance ordinance to provide appropriate exceptions for when a dog may be off leash and off an owner’s property.  Legal counsel has accepted AKC GR’s recommendations and the town’s board of selectmen discussed the changes at their December 14, 2020 meeting.  The final document was approved on January 25, 2021.