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Taking Command Newsletter

Local Issues January 2020

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:

CA, City of Bakersfield –
The Bakersfield City Council considered changes to its animal ordinances that would have put restrictions on breeding and dog ownership. GR worked with the city attorney’s office and local dog clubs and concerned residents to voice opposition. During the meeting, the proposals were removed from the agenda and sent to a subcommittee for further discussion. The October subcommittee meeting where the proposals were to be considered was canceled and has not been rescheduled.

CA, Eureka – The city of Eureka is set to completely rewrite its ordinances for animal ownership within the city limits. AKC GR has reviewed the proposed ordinances as they were introduced. When the new ordinances were proposed in October, the Council indicated they would again take up the matter in November, however, it has not been put on an agenda.  While there are parts of the rewrite that positively address responsible dogs, there also are sections that are troubling. AKC will provide timely comments to the Council.

CT, Stamford –
Animal rights advocates petitioned the city board of representatives to adopt a ban on pet shops from sourcing dogs and cats from anywhere but animal shelters and rescues.  In addition to an alert and letter to the full board, AKC GR reached out to the city’s legal department, the ordinance sponsor and state representatives to express concern with how the same policy has resulted in problems in California.  An op-ed regarding the same was published in the local paper.  Although the committee held the measure due to state legal pre-emption concerns, it plans to forward a resolution instead to the Connecticut General Assembly requesting state law be changed.  AKC GR will monitor the session for any developments.

CT, New Haven – The City of New Haven is reviewing AKC GR’s requested amendments to their animal ordinance establishing breeder and litter permits as part of a dangerous dog proposal.  A public hearing was promised to be scheduled and AKC has been monitoring the calendar, but a new Mayor was elected in November and no action has yet been taken.   Read the alert.

DC, Washington  – Proposal B 23-0583, known as the “Animal Care and Control Omnibus Act” would institute bond for care in the District, wherein an owner could potentially lose their dogs if they do not pay boarding and other costs of care during an ongoing investigation – even if they are ultimately found not guilty. It would also ban the retail sale of pets at pet stores unless the dogs are sourced from shelters or rescues.  AKC has expressed concerns with both these provisions. Other provisions of the bill include addressing the ownership of a dog in a divorce proceeding and allowing animal control to use lights and sirens on their vehicles in an emergency.  AKC and local clubs have been in touch with the sponsors.  The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

HI, Honolulu The Honolulu City County has introduced Bill 59 as an amendment to an existing County Ordinance. The bill calls for mandatory microchipping and registration of all dogs and cats on Oahu. The microchip requirement would replace the current animal license and registration requirements. Exclusions regarding animals for obedience trial, tracking, and show dogs are cited.  Hunting and support dogs are also excluded. The bill also mentions that dogs in public would be required to be on 4-foot leads while the handler in control must be over 18 years of age. It has not been placed on an agenda yet. AKC Government Relations is monitoring closely.

IL, McHenry County – The McHenry County Board is considering a proposal that would make several changes to the county animal laws.  This includes a new definition of a potentially dangerous dog as a dog who demonstrates aggressive tendencies or causes a minor injury (which could potentially include a scratch or a puppy nipping someone).  Dogs declared potentially dangerous must be sterilized in 14 days.  The bill also establishes bond for care provisions, where someone could lose ownership of their dog during a cruelty trial if they fail to pay for the care – even if they are found not guilty.  The Finance and Audit Committee considered the bill on January 9.  AKC GR and its state federation have reached out to the council and animal control director to share concerns and provide alternative language.

MA, Uxbridge – The board of health has reviewed significant changes drafted to update the town’s animal rules.  AKC GR continues to work with a resident club member and after discussion regarding the draft document, contacted the Chairman for the Board of Selectmen.  The proposal has had all references to dogs stricken by the town council who noted that any change to kennel rules would need to be adopted via a warrant article at town meeting.  AKC GR will continue to monitor this issue.

ME, Bangor – A proposed ordinance requiring dogs on leash at all times near the waterfront would have blocked the hosting of an annual match by the Penobscot Valley Kennel Club in the city of Bangor.  Working with the city council, a club member successfully secured an amendment creating an exception for activities authorized by city permit.  AKC GR is grateful to the club for its timely and effective advocacy.

RI, North Providence
– The City of North Providence has experienced negative media coverage for irresponsible animal owners creating a nuisance in town.  As a result, councilmen began discussing an animal breeding ordinance.  AKC GR has communicated state law requirements for dogs, but despite stating it could address the situation without moving forward on animal breeding restrictions, the council voted in December to establish animal breeding licenses.  Town council has not signed off on the proposal and has asked recently AKC GR to submit an amendment creating an exception for dogs.

RI, Smithfield – The Smithfield town council held a public hearing on December 17, 2019, to consider adopting a pet retail and “commercial establishment” ban on selling dogs or cats unless sourced from an animal shelter or rescue.  The proposed definition of “commercial establishment” would include but not be limited to grooming or boarding facilities.  On behalf of Providence County Kennel Club and Rhode Island Kennel Club, AKC GR submitted written testimony and spoke in opposition to the proposed ordinance with club members in attendance.  In response to the concerns raised, the council has extended the hearing to January 21, 2020 and is open to suggested changes.  AKC GR is working with the kennel clubs to propose changes consistent with enforcement of state law.