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Taking Command Newsletter

State Issues April 2019

News from the State Capitols

Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking. Visit the 2019 Legislation Tracking page and click on your state to get the latest updates on state bills monitored by the AKC.

Alabama – SB 10 seeks to provide for the rights and responsibilities of an individual with a disability who uses a service animal, prohibit discrimination against a person using a service animal, and provide criminal penalties for a person who misrepresents use of a service animal. Certain detection and search-and-rescue dogs would be included under the definition of service animal. AKC supports this measure as last amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

AlabamaSB 61 seeks to provide immunity from liability to a person who forcibly enters a vehicle to release an animal that the person believes is in danger.  AKC GR has recommended amendments to protect a dog owner from liability if the released dog bites the person or a passerby, and to address additional safety and liability issues. SB 61 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Read more about this bill.

Alabama – SB 183 seeks to regulate pet stores at the state level.  AKC GR has requested an amendment to clarify that a breeder who sells dogs bred on the premises shall not be considered a pet store. SB 183 has passed in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Arkansas – HB 1778 sought to increase penalties for acts of animal cruelty.  The bill did not distinguish between an easily correctible offense of failing to provide an undefined “adequate” shelter to an animal versus intentional acts of cruel mistreatment and would have mandated escalated penalties regardless of the circumstances or severity of the offense. HB 1778 passed with amendments in the House Agriculture, Forestry & Economic Development Committee, and failed on Third Reading in the House.

Arkansas –
SB 11, which seeks to protect traditional hunting methods, including hunting with the assistance of a dog, has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee. Read more about this bill, which remains in committee.

Arkansas – SB 654, which creates a civil penalty for misrepresentation of a service animal, has passed in both chambers and was delivered to the Governor on April 10.

California – AB 588 would require shelters to disclose any history of bites for dogs available for adoption. AKC GR is following this bill closely and will provide additional testimony/comment as appropriate. The bill passed the Assembly on April 11 and is pending committee assignment in the Senate.

California – SB 64 would prohibit a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group from releasing a dog or cat to an owner, or adopting out, selling, or giving away a dog or cat to a new owner, unless the dog or cat is microchipped. The bill passed committee on April 8 and is pending a vote by the full Senate.

Connecticut – HB 5386 prohibits pet stores from sourcing dogs or cats from anywhere but animal welfare organizations.  AKC GR has expressed numerous concerns.  The committee substituted the bill text to require instead, that the state Dept of Agriculture research and report on the impact of a similar law recently enacted in California to assess to consumer satisfaction, enforcement problems for regulatory agencies and harm to business owners.

Connecticut SB 21 would extend the work of the taskforce on the humane treatment of animals in municipal and regional animal shelters until January 2020.  The bill received a favorable committee report and is on the Senate calendar.  AKC GR would like the taskforce to recommend state licensure for shelters and rescues.

Connecticut – HB 6016 requires municipal animal control facilities comply with Department of Agriculture sanitation and humane treatment regulations and would result in an update of old regulations grandfathering municipal dog pounds.  AKC submitted testimony supporting standardizing criteria for shelters and municipal dog pounds.

Connecticut – SB 594 bans the predatory leasing of pets by finance companies.  AKC GR worked with the bill sponsor and committee to amend the bill prior to release from committee making clear the ban would not apply to leasing of purebred dogs for stud or exhibition, or for working animals trained and utilized to perform tasks such as service, guide or law enforcement.  The bill is now on the Senate calendar and is expected to pass.

FloridaSB 96 which increases penalties for certain offenses committed on police, fire and search and rescue dogs, has passed in both chambers and is awaiting concurrence.

FloridaHB 378, which seeks to authorize a veterinarian to report suspected criminal violations relating to dogs or cats to certain officers and agents without notice to or authorization from client, was amended in subcommittee and is now before the House Commerce Committee.

FloridaHB 1409 seeks to regulate commercial dog breeders and dealers. This bill contains numerous problematic and arbitrary provisions not based in sound science or accepted animal husbandry provisions. AKC GR provided analysis and talking points to Florida advocates who are working to keep this bill from receiving a committee hearing.

Florida HB 721 / SB 1128 provide for certain access to housing for persons with emotional support animals, allow for the request of written documentation regarding emotional support animals, and penalize falsification of such documentation.  SB 1128, which was amended in the Senate Rules Committee and HB 721 have both advanced in committees.

GeorgiaSB 32, which sought to limit liability for property damage caused by the rescue or attempted rescue of animals locked in motor vehicles, and which was favorably amended in the House Judiciary Committee to provide that a person who removes a life-endangered dog from a vehicle shall have no claim against the owner of the dog or vehicle for any injuries or damage sustained by the person, failed in the House.

Hawaii – HB 24 would create the crime of sexual assault of an animal and provide for the impoundment and forfeiture of a sexually-assaulted animal.  As introduced, the bill also explicitly states the practices of veterinary medicine, artificial insemination of animals for the purpose of procreation, animal husbandry, or conformation judging is not to be considered sexual assault of an animal.  The bill was considered by the House Agriculture Committee on February 8, which deferred action to a later date.

Hawaii –
HB 930 seeks to prohibit future pet stores from selling purpose-bred dogs, cats, and rabbits; and to require retailers to only sell those that are obtained from certain “humane” sources.  AKC opposes HB 930, which was also deferred by the House Agriculture Committee on February 8. Read the alert.

Illinois – HB 1631 would assign a special advocate to “represent the interests of justice regarding the health or safety” of a dog or cat.  AKC GR and its federation expressed concerns with this bill regarding the numerous legal implications if dogs are no longer treated as property.  It was considered by the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee on March 5 but appears to not be advancing this session.  AKC and its state federation continue to monitor the bill.

Illinois – House Bill 1645 would make it a misdemeanor for someone to intentionally misrepresent their animal as a service animal.  AKC and its Illinois federation are both supporting this bill.  It is pending in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee but does not appear to be advancing this session.

Illinois – House Bills 2933 and 3620 would delete the language from the Illinois Safe Pets Act enacted in 2017 (supported by the AKC) and replace it with a restriction that pet stores may only source dogs from shelters, rescues, or breeders with fewer than five intact females.  AKC and its state federation are expressing concerns that this removes consumer protection laws.  The bills have been held in committee and will likely not advance this year. AKC and its federation continue to closely monitor these bills. Read AKC’s alert for more information.

Illinois – Senate Bill 61 would significantly increase kennel and other license fees in the state and regulate foster homes and transport groups.  The bill has been held in committee and will likely not advance this year. Read AKC’s alert for information on the bill and amendments that were considered by the committee.

Indiana – Senate Bill 533 would require that any dog or cat being imported from a foreign county into Indiana be accompanies by a certificate of veterinary inspection or health certificate.  AKC supports this bill, which has passed both the House and Senate and will be sent to the governor. Read more about this bill.

Iowa – House File 738 (formerly House Study Bill 227) would make numerous changes to the state’s commercial breeder laws.  While some changes are positive, such as rewriting the definition of commercial breeder, so it no longer includes hobbyists, many provisions require further clarifications and changes.  AKC and local clubs have submitted a number of suggested amendments to the bill, which is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee. Read more about this legislation.

Iowa –
House File 737 (formerly House Study Bill 114) rewrites a number of the state’s cruelty laws.  As introduced, it had several unclear provisions, including making it unclear who is permitted to perform tail docking and dewclaw removal.  Another section states that if a person cannot afford the costs of veterinary care, they must transfer ownership to someone who can. It is unclear how this would impact situations when an owner may choose in conjunction with a veterinarian to make the dog as comfortable as possible, but to forgo extensive and expensive treatments. AKC and local clubs have provided testimony and amendments to the sponsor and committee. Several changes requested were incorporated to address the most concerning parts of the bill, but some questions remain.  The bill is now pending consideration by the House of Representatives.

Iowa – Senate File 369 (formerly Senate Study Bill 1075) as introduced provides clarifying changes regarding penalties for animal abuse and mistreatment.  Local kennel clubs have requested amendments to ensure that animal wardens permitted to handle abuse cases do not extend to third parties.  AKC has been in direct contact with the sponsor to offer expertise and assistance.  The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 4.

Kentucky SB 67 establishes the crime of sexual offenses against animals and includes exceptions for accepted animal husbandry, artificial insemination, and conformation judging procedures as recommended by AKC GR in response to bills filed in previous sessions. SB 67 was amended to require that if the offender convicted of a violation is not the owner of the animal subjected to the violation, the animal shall be returned to its owner unaltered. AKC GR worked with the Kentucky Houndsmen Association to ensure protection for animals without requiring forfeiture of abused animals not owned by the offender. SB 67 has been signed by the Governor.

Maine – LD 556 allows anyone believing a dog unattended in a vehicle to be in serious distress to break into the vehicle after contacting law enforcement.  In addition to the Maine Department of Agriculture, AKC GR testified in opposition and mounted a grassroots effort with the Maine federation. Committee voted to NOT pass.

Maine – LD 1049 extends the puppy health warranty of no hereditary or congenital defects to 5 years for breeders, but not shelters or rescues.  Together with the Maine federation and parent club advocates, AKC GR successfully moved the sponsor to strike this provision from the bill. Discussion continues regarding remedies for health problems identified within the first year of purchase, but the bill has not moved from committee.

Maine – LD 1311 bans the sourcing of dogs and cats to pet stores from anywhere but animal shelters or rescues.  AKC GR and the Maine Federation are very concerned the draft would exclude all breeders from having any association with a “rescue”.  The bill would also restrict consumer choice of where to obtain a pet.  The sponsor has asked ME Friends of Animals and HSUS to work with and address AKC’s concerns. At committee hearing, HSUS requested the committee strike the anti-breeder text from the bill.  No action on the bill has occurred.

Maryland – HB 135 and SB 152, as introduced could have caused an owner to permanently lose ownership of their animals when they are suspected of cruelty – even if they are ultimately found not guilty – if they miss even one payment for the care of their animals during any trial and appeals.  All concerns expressed by the AKC, its federation, and local clubs were addressed in amendments.  The bills passed both chambers and await final action.

Maryland – House Bill 501 would have penalized those who keep their dogs tethered outside unattended for 30 minutes when the temperature is above 90 or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The bill had a public hearing on February 27.  AKC communicated multiple times with the sponsor and committee, and local clubs continued to work with her on more effective alternatives. The bill was ultimately defeated in committee and local clubs have already offered to work with the sponsor prior to a bill being introduced next session. Read more about this bill.

Maryland – Senate Bill 647 would have prohibited homeowner’s and renter’s insurance providers from discriminating against specific breeds or mixed breeds of dogs when offering insurance policies.  Current law allows insurance companies at the time of application and renewal if they do not provide coverage for specific breeds.  AKC supports this bill, which would strike current law and prohibit breed discrimination in insurance policies.  The bill was considered by the Senate Finance Committee on March 12 but did not advance further before the end of session. Read more about this bill.

Massachusetts – 2018 passage of SB 2646, PAWS II, established a special commission to study and report on the feasibility and cost of mandating that employees and contractors of the department of children and families, employees and contractors of the department of elder affairs and investigators for the disabled persons protection commission report known or suspected animal cruelty, abuse and neglect.  AKC GR is attending the commission meetings, which will result in recommendations for legislation.

Massachusetts – More than 30 animal-related bills have been filed and sent to committee. AKC GR is working with the Massachusetts Federation of dog clubs to review each prior to public hearings.

Minnesota – HF 478 and SF 1109 seek to provide funding for the training of service dogs to assist state firefighters with posttraumatic stress disorder.  AKC supports both bills.  HF 478 was passed by the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee on March 20.  An amended SF 1109 has passed one Senate Health and Human Services subcommittee and referred to another.

MississippiSB 2014 would allow for the protection of pets in a protection order.  AKC GR supported this measure, which passed in the Senate but died on the calendar.

Montana – As introduced, Senate Bill 320 would have required those who were accused of cruelty to pay for the cost of the animals during an ongoing trial, and if one payment was missed, the local animal shelter could have sold the animal.  AKC reached out and expressed concerns to the committee.  As passed by the House on April 13, the bill was significantly amended to address the majority of the AKC’s concerns, but a couple of items remain unclear. The bill is pending final approval in the Senate.

Montana – HB 29 will revise certain bird hunting laws in the state. This was initially slated to be legislation that would have put restrictions on bird hunting in such a way that dog field trials would have been negatively affected. AKC GR worked with local clubs to refine the legislation to address the legislative concerns but not hinder any dog activities. The bill has passed out of the House and is now in the Senate.

Montana – Senate Joint Resolution 7 recognizes the AKC Canine Good Citizen program.  If passed, Montana will join 44 other states who have passed similar resolutions.

Montana There are currently four bills dealing with service animals being considered in Montana. HB 379 is the “Working animal protection policy” and declares that working animals are vital to the state and its residents. HB 439 revises state code, defines service animals and establishes penalties for misrepresenting a service animal. HB 466 creates a misdemeanor for the misrepresentation of a service animal. HB 659 establishes penalties for negligent injury or death of a service animal.

Montana – As introduced, Senate Bill 320 would have required those who were accused of cruelty to pay for the cost of the animals during an ongoing trial, and if one payment was missed, the local animal shelter could have sold the animal.  AKC reached out and expressed concerns to the committee.  As passed by the House on April 13, the bill was significantly amended to address the majority of the AKC’s concerns, including allowing the owner to get the animal back if they are ultimately found not guilty.  The bill is pending final approval in the Senate.

Nevada AB 165 would allow a person to collect non-economic damages for injury to or the loss of a dog.  AKC GR is working with a broad coalition to fight this proposal and present more effective alternatives. The bill was pulled from a committee hearing while the coalition meets with the sponsor and legislative leadership.

New Jersey – A. 4552 prohibits the leasing of dogs and cats.  AKC has expressed concerns that it would not only ban lease-to-own arrangements, but also possibly impact leases commonly utilized by hobby breeders and enthusiasts to preserve and continue particular bloodlines and breeds of dogs. AKC GR has provided amendments.

New Jersey – Assembly Bill 781 would establish a process for recovering the cost of caring for domestic companion animals involved in animal cruelty investigations. A.781 does not require courts to consider whether the defendant is able to pay and that costs are a lien against the animal until all payments have been made. AKC GR recommended that courts be required to determine a defendant’s ability to pay.  The bill is pending in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

New Jersey – Assembly Bill 2318 and Senate Bill 1860 seek to provide immunity from civil and criminal liability for those who rescue an unattended animal from a motor vehicle under inhumane conditions.  The AKC expressed concerns that the bills failed to provide any recourse for the owner if an animal was not actually in danger, or to protect owners from liability if an animal escapes or harms someone because of being removed from the vehicle.  An amended version of A2318 was passed by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and an amended version of S1860 unanimously passed the Senate in July.

New Jersey – Senate Bill 1209 would prohibit the declawing or flexor tendonectomy procedure by any means on an animal unless the procedure is deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose by a licensed veterinarian. Those in violation could be fined, imprisoned, or both.  AKC GR requested the bill be amended to specifically provide an exception for dewclaw removal. The bill passed one committee and was re-referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

New Jersey – Multiple bills (A3044 /S2514/A3048) would regulate professional groomers.  The bills were introduced in response to deaths of dogs while in the custody of professional groomers. A3044 has been amended per AKC’s request to exclude mandatory licensing for grooming of dogs for the purpose of exhibition at a show or other competitive event.  AKC is also working on amendments to require a training course on basic health and safety standards prior to licensing.  A3044 and S2514 were heard by the Senate Commerce Committee on February 7.  The AKC expects additional amendments to these bills.  Read our legislative alert.

New Jersey – S2820 seeks to direct the New Jersey Department of Health to develop standards and to adopt rules and regulations for the “appropriate” breeding of dogs in both commercial and residential settings. The bill also seeks to prohibit the breeding of dogs if a person does not have a current USDA license for dog breeding.  Violations would result in the forfeiture of any dog and its offspring in the person’s possession and civil penalties of up to $2,000. The AKC remains deeply concerned with this bill’s extremist provisions and its lack of understanding of the practical availability and necessity of federal licensing.  AKC GR has reached out to the sponsor and has worked with grassroots leaders and key contacts to oppose S2820 should it gain any traction. The bill has been referred to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. It is not scheduled for a hearing.

New Jersey – Similar to proposals in other states, recently-introduced S3541 seeks to prohibit harassing or taking of certain wildlife at competitive events and establishes penalties.  The bill has been assigned to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee but has not been scheduled for consideration. AKC GR continues to closely monitor this legislation, though grassroots leaders have reported that this bill will not be considered.

New Hampshire – SB 77 requires a defendant convicted of animal abuse to pay for the care and treatment of the animals seized.  AKC supports holding owners convicted of cruelty responsible for the cost of their care.  However, it is unclear how a court could preserve co-owner’s rights, particularly before forfeiture of a defendant’s rights in the animal.  A House committee hearing is scheduled for April 17th.  AKC will testify and request clarifying amendments.

New Hampshire – HB 688 requires registration and inspection of all hobby breeders; and establishes an electronic database to track the transfer of ownership of all dogs and cats with health certificates.  AKC GR and the federation NH DOGS testified in opposition.  The bill has been tabled for now by the House.

New Hampshire SB 161 strikes from law the definition for “commercial kennel” and would require anyone transferring ownership of 20 or more animals to be licensed as a “pet vendor”.  Licensure as a pet vendor could result in municipal zoning restrictions for a breeder with more than 20 puppies in a 12-month period.  Upon passage, the NH Senate has added a staff position at the Dept of AG in this bill and restored text requiring submission of health certificates to the state.  AKC GR and the NH DOGS federation are pleased to see the inclusion of these changes and are advocating to require health certificate submission by shelters and rescues and restoration of the commercial kennel definition limits of 10 litters or 50 animals over 12 months.

New Mexico – House Bill 598 was brought forward by the Rio Grande Kennel Club and would allow first responders to perform emergency care on animals until they can be transported to a veterinarian.  The club has publicly committed to donating dog and cat resuscitation kits to first responders throughout the state should the bill pass. This bill supported by the AKC passed committee, but session ended before it could advance further.  The club is working with first responder groups in the interim in an effort to bring the bill back in the 2020 session.

New York – AKC GR is tracking over 200 bills in the state of New York and has currently commented on approximately 40 to date that would have a significant impact on New York dog owners.  AKC GR has reached out to committee chairs, alerted local clubs on how to communicate with their legislators, and continues to communicate with the committees on these issues. Read more.

New York – A. 722 and S. 4253 would prohibit all “contests” where wildlife is killed or captured.  The bills were assigned to their respective Environmental Conservation Committees but are not scheduled for hearings at this time. AKC GR continues to closely monitor this legislation.

North Dakota – HB 1259 would make it an infraction (maximum fine $100) to knowingly make a false claim that a pet is a service animal in an attempt to gain admission to a public place or obtain a reasonable housing accommodation. AKC supports this bill.  HB 1259 has passed the House, but an amended version has passed the Senate and awaits additional action by the House.

Ohio – In January, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) began interpreting a nearly 10-year old definition of “pet store” to include all who sell dogs in face-to-face transactions.  AKC has sent an open letter to ODA outlining the error of their interpretation and asking they immediately reverse this action.  AKC GR met with key legislators in Columbus to discuss options for protecting hobbyists and home-based breeders. On March 7, ODA announced a temporary suspension of enforcement pending legislative action, and AKC GR continues to work with lawmakers on a solution. Read AKC’s notice and letter for more information.

Oklahoma – SB 950 would allow pet stores to operate in the state and prevent municipalities from passing laws to limit pet store sourcing.  The sponsor agreed to AKC’s requested amendment that clarifies a “pet store” does not include a person who sells dogs they have bred and raised on their premises. The bill passed the Senate on March 6.

Oregon SB 723, as introduced, would have prohibited the use of game birds or animals in any hunting contest, and would have also outlawed hosting or promoting any such event. AKC GR worked with a broad coalition of dog owners and clubs to express opposition. Amended in a committee, the bill is now focused solely on coyote hunting contests. AKC GR submitted a letter to the committee supporting the changes that removed dog events.
Read AKC’s alert for more information.

Oregon SB 439 as introduced, would prohibit hunt clubs or preserves from confining birds that could be used on the property for hunting or field trials. While not an outright ban on hunting, this bill would have set up conditions under which most clubs could not operate. AKC GR expressed concerns and continues to monitor the measure carefully. The bill’s sponsors have withdrawn their support for the measure, leaving it an unsponsored committee bill.

Oregon SB 466 creates a Service Animal Task Force. This bill sets up a six-member task force to develop standards for animals to qualify under Oregon law as assistance animals or as companion animals. AKC GR is drafting comments to submit to the sponsor.

Oregon – HB 2804 This bill would prohibit any retail pet store from selling a dog, cat or rabbit that was not obtained from an animal shelter or rescue organization. AKC GR has joined with the state federation and other groups in opposing this legislation.

Pennsylvania – SB 44 would only allow pet stores to sell dogs from shelters or rescues, in an effort to combat a perceived problem with disreputable breeders.  AKC GR is working with the Pennsylvania Federation to oppose this bill and provide more effective solutions to the committee and sponsors.  It is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rhode Island – Last session, AKC GR worked with the House Committee on Health, Education & Welfare to amend a proposal to prohibit pet leasing by providing exceptions for breeding animals and working dogs. H. 5246 includes those exceptions and was passed by the House. AKC is requesting the same amendments for another pet leasing prohibition committee hearing on April 4th.  The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rhode Island – The Senate Judiciary Committee is hearing bills on April 4th that would ban pet retail stores from sourcing pets from anywhere but animal welfare organizations; mirror child custody dispute court procedures for pets in divorce or separation proceedings; and authorize animal control officers to seize an animal confined in a vehicle for up to 72 hours or until arraignment in district court, among other goals.  AKC GR submitted testimony on each bill expressing concerns and collaborated with stakeholders. All bills have been sent to study.

Rhode Island – HB 5023 expands district court jurisdiction to enter protective orders to provide for the safety and welfare of household pets in domestic dispute matters.  AKC GR submitted testimony and the Providence County Kennel Club legislative liaison Attorney Indeglia testified in opposition as the family courts are the proper venue for these disputes.  The committee tabled HB 5023 and raised HB 5822, which would require the family court in divorce and separation matters to use child custody dispute criteria to determine the best interests of the pet.  The hearing was then postponed at the request of the sponsor.

Rhode Island – the House Committee on Health, Education & Welfare heard multiple bills of serious concern to AKC GR in February. HB 5265 would establish an Animal Rights Advisory Council made up of predominantly animal rights groups to issue annual recommendations to the legislature.  HB 5433 would allow the seizure of animals if in the opinion of an animal control officer there is suspected neglect or abuse, for example, indicated by an animal being lame.  HB 5072 would prohibit pet stores from the sale of dogs not sourced from a shelter, rescue or pound.  AKC GR testified suggesting these issues be vetted by establishing an animal welfare advisory council, with a seat for kennel clubs and AKC.  Rhode Island kennel clubs’ members submitted testimony and three personally attended the hearing. AKC GR has lobbied the bills and they have been sent to study.

South Carolina – H.3086 seeks to regulate as a commercial dog breeder a person who owns or maintains 20 or more intact female dogs over the age of six months kept primarily for the purpose of breeding and selling the offspring. Among other provisions, a commercial dog breeder would be required to obtain a business license issued by the county or municipality. Any animal control officer, public health or safety official, or law enforcement officer employed by the municipality or county where a commercial dog breeder resides or maintains breeding operations would be empowered to investigate any potential violation, and inspect records, any companion animal, and any place where animals are bred or maintained, including a residence. H 3086 has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. AKC GR sent a letter of concern to the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Committee.

South Carolina H.3709 seeks to require that a fertile “pit bull dog” over the age of eight weeks must be registered with a governmental animal control agency for $500 fee. “Pit bull dog” is defined as an “American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier” or a dog exhibiting characteristics that conform to AKC standards for the listed breeds. Dogs registered by the age of six months that compete in a nationally-recognized AKC or UKC show would be exempted if documentation is provided of the dog’s registration, pedigree, and proof of show participation during the prior twelve months. AKC GR has contacted the sponsor’s staff to express concerns about this bill and its inaccurate findings.

South Carolina S.105 states that a litter of unidentifiable dogs or cats four months of age or younger may be immediately turned over to any organization established for the purpose of caring for animals for “life-saving” purposes. There is no hold time and could serve to immediately sever the property rights of an owner of any two impounded puppies deemed to be a “litter”. Among positive provisions, S.105 establishes that costs of care for an impounded animal may be charged only after the owner is found guilty. It also includes standards for shelters and rescue groups and tethering requirements.  It passed the Senate on March 28 and is pending in House Judiciary.

Tennessee – HB 233 / SB 222, as introduced, would have criminalized possessing, owning, buying, selling, or manufacturing animal fighting paraphernalia with the intent that it be used in promoting, facilitating, or training for animal fighting. Items specified in the bill included treadmills and other equipment commonly used in training dogs for legal activities. AKC GR requested amendments to the bill, which were passed in Senate committee. The amended bill has been sent to the Governor.

TennesseeHB 281 / SB 436 seek to regulate pet stores at the state level. AKC GR has requested that these bills be clarified so that individuals and breeders who sell a dog directly to a buyer shall specifically be excluded from the definition of “retail pet store”. HB 281 was taken off notice in the House Cities & Counties Subcommittee.

Tennessee – HB 852 / SB 1277 seek to enhance animal cruelty penalties. The sponsor of HB 852 requested that the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee pass an amendment to the bill that, among other extensive provisions, would direct the court to impose vastly increased penalties, including imprisonment and significant fines, for any offense; expand the confiscation of animals to include other equipment and property based on an accusation; limit a citizen’s right to appeal a bond for care award; and further enable the awarding of seized property, fines and fees to non-governmental organizations operating in the state or in a county. These increased penalties do not distinguish between a correctible issue such as a spilled water container that does not result in harm to an animal. and heinous acts of animal torture. AKC GR wrote a letter of concern to the subcommittee, which deferred the bill to Summer Study.

Tennessee – HB 999, which designates the Bluetick Coonhound as the official state dog, was signed by the Governor.

Tennessee – HB 1190 / SB 1393 seek to establish processes for landlords to verify the needs of tenants and prospective tenants to have pet policies waived to accommodate a service or support animal and create penalties for misrepresentation.  HB 1190 has advanced in both chambers.

Texas – HB 1801 and SB 476 would permit businesses to allow patrons to bring dogs to their outdoor dining areas if they choose, so long as certain standards are met.  AKC GR supports these bills.  SB 478 was passed by the Senate on March 19 and was considered in lieu of HB 1801 by the House Public Health Committee on April 8.

TexasHB 921 seeks to require animal shelters and releasing agencies to prepare and maintain records on the intake and disposition of animals in their care, and to make those records available to the Health and Human Services Commission.  AKC GR has expressed support of HB 921, which is pending in the House. 

TexasHB 3092 would require shelters to provide written notice to each person who adopts a shelter animal of any epizootic infectious disease that occurs among the animals in the shelter within a 30-day period before and after the date of transfer.  AKC supports HB 3092.  An amended version is currently pending in the House.

Vermont – AKC GR and the Vermont Federation have analyzed four bills this month and drafted suggested amendments.  None of the bills appear to be moving forward at this time.

Virginia – House Bill 1625 originally clarified laws regarding outdoor shelter laws, but was significantly amended in the Senate Agriculture Committee to include unreasonable tethering laws and a provision that will allow local governments to pass new, stricter laws on basic standards of animal care including food, water, exercise, and veterinary treatment.  A conference committee removed the problematic language and once again clarifies requirements for what constitutes “adequate shelter”.  The amended bill was signed by the governor on March 18 and will be enacted on July 1.

Virginia – Senate Bill 1025 sought to regulate tethering, and also allowed localities to pass their own, stricter laws regarding the care of animals.  At the request of the AKC, its state federation, and numerous clubs and sportsmen, the bill was amended to address the majority of concerns and passed.  The governor requested some problematic amendments, and the AKC and its federation communicated concerns to the General Assembly, who voted on April 3 to reject these changes.  The bill can now be vetoed or become law as originally amended by the legislature. Read more about this legislation.

Washington – HB 1026 discourages local jurisdictions from passing BSL. However, it also allows for BSL, so long as dogs that have passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test are exempted from breed bans. AKC GR provided comments on the legislation, which passed the House and had a hearing in the Senate Committee on Local Government on March 21. Read more about this legislation.

Washington — HB 1640 and SB 5209. These are identical pet shop bills that would require retail pet stores to sell dogs, cats and, rabbits that have come from humane societies, rescue organizations or animal shelters. AKC GR has submitted comments and is closely tracking this legislation. Read the alert for more information.  WashingtonHB 2822 aligns the definition of a “service dog” with the ADA and makes it a civil infraction to misrepresent a pet as a service dog.  AKC provided testimony to both houses in support. The bill passed both houses and has been delivered to the Governor.

Wisconsin – SB 30 and AB 29 as introduced would have essentially ended hunt and field trials in the state.  The AKC understands that the chairmen of the Assembly and Senate Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry Committee have committed to not allow the bill to advance after hearing from the AKC, numerous sportsmen and performance clubs in the state.  AKC GR continues to closely monitor these bills.