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Local Issues March 2021

Local Issues March 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: 

CT, Stamford– 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 invited AKC GR and the HSUS Connecticut state director to speak at the February 16, 2021 meeting. AKC GR reviewed suggested amendments to the proposal for consistency with state law and to allow animal control officers discretion in performing their duties to ensure all dogs are protected from harmful weather elements. The board representative sponsoring the proposal is waiting for input from the American Veterinarian Medical Association before moving forward with any changes.

FL, Manatee County – a public meeting and discussion of proposed changes to animal ordinances will be held on March 30, 2021 at 9:00am. Discussion of animal welfare regulations and retail sales is scheduled to begin at 1:30pm. The proposed ordinance includes amendments to animal nuisance laws, requirements and health certificates for selling or transferring a dog or puppy, tethering restrictions, outdoor confinement requirements for animals, enforcement provisions, and other provisions that impact dog owners. View the meeting agenda, information about the work session and the proposed ordinance, which appears on pages 597-636.

GA, Maysville – In response to input from concerned residents and AKC GR, numerous problematic provisions in a proposed animal ordinance were favorably amended. Read the amended version of the ordinance.

ID, Boise – The city is seeking public feedback on a proposal that makes numerous changes to the city’s animal control code. Changes include requiring written permission from neighbors to keep four dogs on your property, allowing private citizens to remove dogs from cars, the potential to lose your dogs during a cruelty or potentially dangerous dog hearing due to inability to pay for long-term boarding, even if the accused is later found not guilty, and pet store restrictions. Read more.

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 pending in the Health and Human Services Committee.

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 by AKC GR that was published in the local newspaper. AKC GR submitted a letter to the attorney general requesting the petition be rejected as inconsistent with state law. The attorney general released the legal analysis and decision on February 24, 2021, approving the authority of the town to adopt a by-law that does not interfere with the broad authority of the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture over pet shops and animal rescues and shelters. Further, the attorney general has disapproved the proposal’s enforcement provisions allowing the seizure of animals for violations noting that municipalities only have the authority to issue fines for violations. Town counsel will be responsible for making these changes.

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 issued a legal analysis on the town of Holliston’s similar proposal on February 24, 2021 and communicated to AKC GR that the town of Marshfield never submitted any proposal adopted by the town back in October 2020.

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. Now that the attorney general has issued a decision on the Holliston, MA proposal, the General Government Committee met on March 3, 2021 to delete text allowing animal control to seizure animals from retail entities found in violation of the ordinance and to reduce the fines proposed. The proposal is now consistent with the attorney general’s determination that provisions were inconsistent with state law. It was approved by committee and the city council voted to adopt the amended version on March 9, 2021.

MA, Springfield – On March 8, 2021, proposed ordinance No. 6086 amending Chapter 110 (Animals) by adding a new Section 110-14 to prohibit the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits by city pet shops was introduced. It provides that a pet shop may provide space for the display of dogs, cats, or rabbits available for adoption only if such animals are displayed and made available for adoption by either a shelter or rescue organization. A subcommittee is scheduled to hear public comment on March 29, 2021. 

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 has worked with the board and local animal shelter director on amendments, many of which were accepted. The advisory board approved the proposal with amendments on March 16. The proposal now goes to the County Commission for consideration.

TN, Memphis —  The Memphis City Council did not adopt an ordinance that made false claims about breeders and sought to restrict consumer choice when acquiring a pet. Read AKC GR’s alert on this issue.