2018 was another busy year for AKC Government Relations, its state federations, and responsible dog owners and breeders advocating for dogs. Over 2,100 bills impacting animals were monitored by AKC Government Relations department. Several new laws impacting dog owners and breeders were enacted over the past year. It is imperative for responsible owners to ensure they are in compliance with all laws.
Examples of new laws that were enacted in 2019 include the following:
- The Alabama Assistance and Service Animal Integrity in Housing Act creates the crime of misrepresentation of entitlement to an assistance or service animal and also establishes the crime of misrepresentation of an animal as an assistance or service animal.
- California’s Assembly Bill 485, which was passed into law in 2017, took effect on Jan. 1, 2019. The new law bans pet shops from selling purpose-bred puppies from regulated and inspected sources. Instead, ironically, it will require pet shops to only sell pets from sources (i.e., shelters, rescues, and other similar organizations) that are not subject to federal Animal Welfare Act laws, required to be inspected, or subject to state consumer protection laws and other guarantees. Read more.
- In Florida, a new law supported by AKC requires certain sheltering organizations to establish procedures to ensure that every reasonable effort is made to quickly and reliably return lost and strayed animals to their owners, authorizes a court to prohibit certain offenders from owning or having contact with animals, and revises penalties.
- Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment that will phase out commercial dog racing in the state in connection with wagering. The new amendment applies only to those who are approved by the state to conduct racing operations related to gambling and does not affect AKC events or lure coursing competitions or events. AKC-sanctioned events do not allow wagering and are not subject or conducted pursuant to those laws. Prizes received for placements in competitive events are not the proceeds of a wager. The AKC encourages and strongly supports the interaction and mutual enjoyment of owners and dogs in sporting activities such as hunting and field trials; in working circumstances such as herding, tracking, and pulling; and in competition events such as dog shows, obedience trials, agility trials, and other performance events and tests. The AKC believes that dogs should be properly cared for, humanely trained, and not pushed beyond reasonable limits for which they were bred. Accordingly, AKC did not support this amendment.
- In Louisiana, Senate Bill 236 established the crime of sexual abuse of an animal. Now Act #485, it includes language supported by AKC GR which ensures that veterinary practices; artificial insemination for reproductive purposes; accepted animal husbandry practices including grooming, raising, breeding, or assisting with the birthing process of animals; and accepted practices related to the judging of breed conformation are not misinterpreted as sexual abuse of an animal.
- Massachusetts adopted a package of changes recognizing the link between abusers of animals as those likely to abuse vulnerable people; such as elders, the disabled and children. Animal control officers will now report instances of such suspected abuse to state agencies. A 2019 commission will meet to explore the cost and feasibility of state agency employees being mandated to report suspected animal abuse. Although AKC was not named to the commission, we will participate in this process through open forums and commenting periods. The measure also increases fines for violating animal welfare requirements, dog control, and licensing provisions, and makes intentional drowning of an animal a crime. Rather than prohibit discrimination by insurance companies of certain breeds of dogs when issuing homeowners and renters property liability coverage, the Department of Insurance will collect data about dog-related incidents for three years. The new law also requires property owners or lessors to inspect any property vacated for the presence of abandoned animals. Fighting animals automatically forfeited and previously automatically euthanized will now be evaluated for their suitability of re-homing.
- In New Hampshire, at the request of the AKC and our federation, the Dog Owners of the Granite State, a new law requires animal shelter facilities to have a microchip scanner on premises, to maintain a file of recognized pet retrieval agencies, and to scan animals for microchips upon admission if their owners are not known.
- In Ohio, numerous changes were made to the high volume breeder laws. Under the new law, a high volume breeder is one who maintains six or more unspayed, adult female dogs and sells five or more dogs to a pet store, sells 40 or more puppies a year to the public, or keeps more than 40 puppies under the age of 4 months that have been bred on the premises and have been primarily kept on the premises from birth. A person must both maintain 6 or more adult unspayed females and meet one of these criteria in order for the law to apply. The bill also clarified standards of care for high volume breeders and requires that pet stores must verify that breeders providing dogs to their store meet with the standards of care. Read more.
- Rhode Island, with input from AKC, amended state law to allow for tethering of hunting, herding, and sled dogs if previously approved by law enforcement.
This is not a comprehensive list and does not include any local measures that may have passed in your community. Dog owners and breeder advocates are urged to contact their local animal control to check if any measures or new requirements were passed in the last year on the state level or in the community to ensure you are in compliance with all state and local laws.