News from the State Capitols
Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking.
Alabama – House Bill 485, among other provisions, would have allowed a dog to be confiscated without court authorization if suspected of harassing, harming, or killing livestock. Minor amendments were adopted in committee, and AKC GR advocated for more substantial amendments to protect the due process rights of dog owners. Read more. HB 485 did not advance in the House prior to the end of the legislative session.
Arizona – House Bill 2323 states that for the purposes of homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, the breed of dog may not be considered for underwriting or determining risk or loss, questionnaires or surveys regarding the presence of a dog on the premises, or findings that a dog is dangerous for the purpose of providing insurance coverage. AKC worked with the sponsor and a broad range of stakeholders to develop this legislation. The bill passed the House and has passed Senate committees. It is pending a vote by the full Senate.
Arizona – House Bill 2626 would require shelters to scan for a microchip when obtaining an animal and make reasonable efforts to locate the owner. The bill also amends several other requirements for animal shelters. HB 2626 has passed the House and passed Senate committees. It is pending a vote by the full Senate.
California – AB 1881 would establish a “Dog and Cat Bill of Rights” that must be posted by all shelters and rescues. While there is no enforcement with this, AKC has significant concerns about putting “rights” of animals in law and the implications this has for changing the legal status of animals in the state. AKC is communicating and working with a broad coalition to express opposition, offer amendments, and promote alternative solutions. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on April 26. Read more.
California – AB 1901 would regulate all trainers in the state as boarding kennels, regardless of whether dogs are kept overnight. AKC is working with trainers across the state to oppose this bill, which is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on April 19. Read more.
California – AB 1781 would regulate shelters and rescues transporting animals. It would require them to ensure that transport vehicles protect a dog’s health and safety. The bill will be heard by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on April 26.
California – AB 2723 would amend current law regarding microchipping when a dog is adopted from a local shelter. It would require that the person buying the dog be listed as the owner with the microchip registry within 90 days of the ownership transfer. In addition, the shelter may not release a dog to someone claiming to be the owner unless that person is registered as the owner on the microchip or is authorized by the owner listed on the microchip. The bill passed the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on March 29 and will be considered by the Assembly Public Safety Committee on April 26. Read more.
California – AB 2380 would prohibit a person from obtaining a loan in order to purchase a dog or cat. The bill will be heard in the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee on April 19.
California – SB 971 expresses concern that many pets are relinquished to shelters because of housing, moving, or landlord issues. It then states that nearly three-fourths of renters have pets, but breed, weight and ownership number restrictions can create a significant issue. It also emphasizes the disproportionate number of low-income families who have to choose between housing and their beloved pets. In an attempt to begin to address these concerns, SB 971 would make changes to the criteria and scoring system for providing loans for the state’s low-income housing projects. It would require that, among other provisions, the scoring system consider whether the project would include limitations on the number of animals on the premises or consideration of a dog’s breed or weight. In addition, the scoring system should provide an additional point to those projects that do not require an additional monthly fee for keeping an animal. This bill has passed the Senate Housing Committee and will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 18.
Connecticut –HB 5170 would establish requirements for the adequate sheltering of dogs and add additional requirements concerning the tethering of dogs. After a public hearing by the Joint Planning and Development Committee on Friday, February 25, 2022 the committee amended HB 5170 to prevent dogs from being left outside without shelter for more than 15 minutes after a National Weather Service advisory is issued, unless accompanied by a person. The committee voted the bill favorably and it is now on the House calendar for consideration. Read more.
Connecticut – SB 141 would amend the animal cruelty statute by elevating the intentional injury of any animal while in the performance of its duties under the supervision of law enforcement, or any dog performing for a volunteer search and rescue team, to a class C felony. Current law classifies the killing of these animals as a class C felony, but intentional injury is only classified as Class D, the least serious type of felony. AKC GR submitted testimony to the Joint Public Safety and Security Committee on March 3, supporting SB 141 for its potential to deter harm to these working dogs. The bill was voted favorably and sent to the Judiciary Committee.
Connecticut – SB 234 would make significant changes to kennel and dog licensing laws. AKC GR understands the intent of the changes are to update and modernize processes, but issued an alert outlining concerns with the bill and expressed them at the Joint Environment Committee public hearing on March 7, 2022. In response, the committee chose not to advance SB 234 but, amended HB 5295 to establish a working group at the Department of Agriculture to address concerns raised at the public hearing. AKC GR has been invited to participate and issued the following update.
Connecticut – HB 5232 “Concerning Service Animals” is supported by AKC GR because it would update Connecticut’s laws to ensure its terms and definitions are consistent with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The bill is a reflection of work done by a 2019 workgroup that AKC GR participated in. The committee voted it favorably on March 8 and it is now on the House calendar for consideration.
Connecticut – Among other provisions, HB 5498 would designate the shelter pet as Connecticut’s state pet. AKC GR posted information about the bill’s hearing on March 25. After hearing support and opposition to this provision, the Joint Government Administration and Elections Committee voted to place HB 5498 on the House consent calendar anticipating unanimous support. More details are here.
Delaware – Senate Bill 248 was just introduced on April 7. This bill would provide for damages of up to $15,000 in veterinary bills for injuries to a pet, the fair market value of a deceased pet, and up to $15,000 for emotional trauma suffered by the pet’s owner. Under this Act, the maximum recoverable sum available as compensation for tortious injury to a pet is $30,000 plus the fair market value of the pet in the event the pet’s death is caused by tortious injury. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. AKC opposes the “emotional trauma” damages portion of the bill and is reaching out to the sponsor’s office to discuss concerns.
Florida – SB 620, which is supported by AKC, enacts the “Local Business Protection Act.” It authorizes certain businesses to claim damages from a county or municipality that enacts or amends certain ordinances that damage the profits of the business. This potentially provides recourse for some animal-related businesses that, subsequent to the passage of the bill, can document a 15% income loss that resulted from the enactment of local laws. SB 620 passed in both houses and awaits action by the governor.
Georgia –Senate Resolution 868 was adopted on April 4. Supported by AKC and the Georgia Canine Coalition, this resolution recognizes May 1, 2022 as Purebred Dog Day in Georgia. Advocates continue to work to pass legislation to make this an annual day of recognition.
Georgia – HB 1450, sought to establish certain good practices to assure the well-being of dogs while tethered; however, it included unnecessary limitations for safe, temporary tethering. AKC GR and the Georgia Canine Coalition worked to address concerns with the bill, which did not receive a committee hearing prior to the end of session. Read AKC’s alert.
Georgia – SB 303, an onerous dog breeder bill, did not advance prior to the end of the 2022 session. Over the two-year legislative session, AKC GR and other advocates worked to communicate grave concerns with the bill and to urge that it be amended to contain consumer protection provisions for individuals who obtain a dog.
Hawai’i – The international airport on Oahu is the only port of entry for all dogs and cats entering Hawaii, including service animals, with few exceptions. Since the airport animal quarantine facility is located on Oahu, the animal inspection fee for service animals arriving on Oahu is waived. Residents and visitors who arrive at ports of entry on other islands with a service animal must pay the inspection permit fee. AKC GR supports House Bill 2319, which seeks to require the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture be responsible for all inspection permit fees for service animals that arrive on islands other than Oahu. An amended HB 2319 has passed two policy committees and has been assigned to House Finance for further consideration.
Hawai’i – Several bills seek to clarify the legal use of service and assistance animals, particularly after the legislature made it a civil violation to misrepresent a service animal in 2018. AKC GR has determined that these bills do not infringe on the use of service dogs but will continue to monitor for any developments with them.
Illinois – Senate Bill 153 would have provided a court-appointed advocate to represent the interests of animals in a case involving the injury, health, or safety of a dog or cat. AKC opposed this bill, as there is the potential for legal confusion about who will be ultimately responsible for making decisions impacting animals if an advocate participates in a case. AKC GR has also asked for an amendment to protect the legal status of animals as property. The bill passed the Senate but was ultimately held on the House floor. Read more.
Illinois – House Bill 4641 would have allowed courts to consider ordering a person to forfeit animals on a violation of the state’s animal laws, rather than a conviction. While in some cases the violations may be significant, others may be for minor infractions that can be corrected and do not rise to the level of a serious offense. In addition, this is a significant shift that could result in dog owners permanently losing their animals for offenses even if they are not convicted of a crime. AKC and its federation opposed this bill, which was held in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee. Read more.
Illinois – House Bill 3996 sought to create a petty offense for those who knowingly misrepresent a service animal for the purpose of allowing an animal in a place that does not allow non-service animals, or allowing an animal on public transportation that prohibits non-service animals. AKC supported this bill, but it was held along with numerous other animal bills in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee.
Illinois – House Bill 3917 sought to make numerous changes to the state laws regarding the care of animals. AKC and the state federation, along with veterinarians and many others, communicated concerns with the sponsor’s office. The bill was ultimately held in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee. Read more.
Illinois – House Bill 5377 sought to amend the state’s laws regarding pet theft, by clarifying that theft of a pet valued under $500 is a felony. AKC and its state federation have been in touch with the sponsor and provided amendments to improve pet theft laws and penalties in the state. The bill was held in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee and the sponsor agreed to work with AKC in the interim on an effective pet theft bill.
Iowa – HF 2456 would prohibit state licensees from selling dogs in the state using financial contracts. This prohibition would apply to commercial breeders, kennels and pet shops. The law further states that these financial contracts would be void and unenforceable and the licensee shall not collect compensation. A violation could lead to revocation or suspension of your license. Due to session constraints it is unlikely this bill will be heard during this session.
Kansas- SB 551 was a bill that would establish a new division within the Kansas Department of Agriculture tasked with inspecting pet animal facilities. The bill was recently considered in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Inspections would apply to breeders licensed by the state, pet shops, boarding kennels, rescues, distributors, research facilities and shelters. This division would be known as the Pet Animal Facilities Inspection Division. The bill was not advanced from committee. AKC did not take a position on SB 551 because the bill did not make any changes to existing laws related to pet animal inspections but a number of dog breeders in Kansas were concerned about the bill so AKC worked with the committee chair to ensure those concerns were heard.
Kentucky – HB 20 seeks to redefine torture of a dog or cat and provide for penalties. A Committee Substitute that favorably clarifies the bill passed in the House Judiciary Committee, and a floor amendment to further clarify the bill was filed. The bill could be considered by the House at any time.
Kentucky – HB 71, among other provisions, seeks to allow any agency that seizes an animal to petition the court to require the owner to pay the cost of care for the animal for the anticipated costs related to seizure and care of the animal, or else the animal is forfeited. The provisions of the bill would encompass any alleged violation of any state or local animal ordinance. HB 71 remains in the House Committee on Committees. See related bill, SB 125.
Kentucky – HB 180 addresses civil liability immunity for damaging a vehicle when releasing pets in danger. It is pending in the House Committee on Committees.
Kentucky – SB 125 seeks to amend animal cruelty law and require owners of animals confiscated in conjunction with charges against the owner or caretaker to pay costs of impoundment for the animals, even if found not guilty or if charges are dropped. The provisions of the bill would encompass any alleged violation of any state or local animal ordinance. The bill was amended in the Senate to exclude livestock animals. An additional proposed amendment supported by AKC was not adopted. Read more about this bill, which has passed in the Senate and is now in the Committee on Committees in the House.
Kentucky – SB 128 seeks to designate the Treeing Walker Coonhound as the official state dog. AKC GR supports this bill. It is assigned to the Senate Licensing & Occupations Committee.
Louisiana – HB 607, as introduced, seeks to increase penalties for simple cruelty to animals and allow a court to order the offender to pay expenses for medical treatment of the animal. AKC submitted a letter of concern with the bill, which was amended to remove the proposed minimum penalties and to add that a court may order the offender to pay for the housing and medical treatment of the animal pursuant to an existing law that provides for restitution. The amended bill was approved in the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice and is pending debate on the House floor.
Louisiana – HB 842, among other provisions, seeks to extend immunities to a veterinarian or veterinary technician who releases confidential records or participates in any investigation of acts prohibited by law. AKC GR expressed concerns that the bill, as introduced, was overly broad and submitted recommended amendments. Most of the amendments proposed by AKC were adopted and advanced by the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure.
Maine – LD 1828 would require the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to contract a third-party for the administration of the Companion Animal Sterilization Fund. After a public hearing on January 20, 2022. The bill passed both chambers and was signed by the Governor as Chapter 523 of the Acts of 2022 on March 29.
Maine –LD 1885 “An Act to Increase Maine’s Veterinary Workforce” would expand a loan program to increase the veterinary workforce in the state. AKC GR and the Maine Federation of Dog Clubs support this initiative. A public hearing by the Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business was held on February 3 and the committee made minor changes to bill. AKC GR has submitted a letter of support for LD 1885, as amended, and issued an alert encouraging emails in support of passage before the session closes on April 20, 2022.
Maine – AKC GR is pleased to note that Senator Marianne Moore has again filed a Resolution, SP 669, identifying May 1, 2022 as Purebred Dog Day.
Maine – LD 482 would adopt a model act for the regulation of pet insurance. It is a concept bill that was considered on February 24, 2022 by the Joint Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services and as of April 5, had been adopted by the House and Senate.
Maryland – House Bill 1062 and Senate Bill 877 are cross filed bills that seek to authorize the filing of a petition against an owner or custodian for reasonable costs of caring for a seized animal, including the provision of food, water, shelter, and medical care, when animal cruelty is suspected. The bills limit costs to $15 a day per animal plus reasonable costs for necessary veterinary care. AKC appreciates that after discussions with the sponsors, the bills do state that if the owners are ultimately found not guilty, they will get their animals and money returned to them. However, if a payment is missed at any time, then they will not get their animals back regardless of the ultimate verdict. AKC GR continues to request amendments to protect the rights of dog owners ultimately found not guilty – regardless of whether they miss a payment. House Bill 1062 is now awaiting action by the Governor. AKC will request that the Governor veto the bill.
Maryland – House Bill 1375 and Senate Bill 815 are cross filed bills that would establish non-economic damages for “mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, comfort, and protection” resulting from the injury or death of a pet. AKC opposes these bills, which although such concepts may sound benign, represent a potential change in the legal status of animals (animal rights) and would increase the cost of care significantly; ultimately undermining the ability of pet owners to care for their pets. Both bills had public hearings in their respective Judiciary committees on March 2. House Bill 1375 was withdrawn by the sponsor. Senate Bill 815 has not been scheduled for Senate Judicial Proceeding Committee voting session. Session ended with no further action on the bill.
Maryland – House Bill 16 and Senate Bill 44 limit the amount of time a dog can be outdoors in 32 degrees or lower temperatures or 90 degrees or higher temperatures without “suitable shelter” or access to shade. AKC GR was successful in having exemptions for hunting, livestock herding or guarding, sledding, sporting, or training added to the bills. The definition of “suitable shelter” and requirements related to shade in SB 44 were slightly amended by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and passed the full Senate and is currently awaiting action by the full House. HB 16 passed the House and was amended and passed the Senate to align the Senate version. The House concurred with Senate amendments and the bill now awaits action from the Governor. While AKC will ask the Governor to veto the bill, we are pleased that the bill includes the important exemptions. Read more.
Maryland – House Bill 965 increases the maximum amount of compensatory damages that may be awarded to a pet owner when someone causes injury or death to the animal in certain circumstances. The maximum amount would be increased from $10,000 to $25,000 and could include the fair market value of the pet and reasonable and necessary veterinary care. AKC GR is monitoring this bill, which was passed by the House on March 18 and assigned to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee where no hearing date has been scheduled. Session ended with no further action on the bill.
Massachusetts – Despite AKC GR testimony in opposition to SB 1322, the bill has been released favorably again this session from the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government and sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Among other restrictions, the bill would allow municipal animal control officers to tell residents how many dogs or cats they can own after an inspection of their premises upon kennel license application. AKC GR submitted a detailed letter outlining concerns with the text on December 21, 2021. Supporters of HB 305, “Ollie’s Law” which did not receive a favorable committee report, are looking to accomplish the same objectives in bills such as SB 1322 and hosted a rally at the statehouse on March 10. AKC GR is organizing Massachusetts club members and affected stakeholders to respond, as appropriate.
Massachusetts – SB 2397 would prohibit the misrepresentation of a service animal. AKC GR submitted testimony in support to the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs for the public hearing that was held on January 7, 2022. On February 14, the bill was reported favorably by committee and referred to the committee on Senate Ways and Means.
Massachusetts – HB 2547 would authorize the emergency transport and treatment of police K-9s injured in the line of duty. AKC GR urged Massachusetts residents to contact their lawmakers in support and request that they co-sponsor the bill. Amendments provide flexibility when utilizing the provision if ambulances are in limited supply or an emergency veterinary clinic is not nearby. Signed into law as Chapter 23 of the Acts of 2022, on February 18, 2022, AKC GR was invited to attend a celebratory signing with the Governor on April 12, 2022.
Massachusetts – The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture heard testimony on three bills to protect research animals, allowing adoption after health examination upon retiring from research activities. AKC GR supported HB 901 and HB 966 at the November 17, 2021 hearing, but noted that definitions for animal shelter and rescue in the bill were inconsistent with current law. The committee advanced the bill favorably on February 3, 2022. HB 901 is on the House calendar for consideration and AKC GR has highlighted the inconsistency with House leaders.
Massachusetts –SB 551 would create an advisory board, with a shelter and rescue coordinator serving as chair, to oversee various functions of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. AKC GR expressed concerns to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture at the November 17, 2021 public hearing, noting that a formal advisory board with permanent members chaired by a shelter and rescue coordinator is not necessary for the state agency to function effectively. The bill advanced favorably from committee and is in the Senate Rules Committee waiting for placement on the Senate calendar.
Massachusetts – SB 2672 was released favorably on February 10, 2022, by the Joint Judiciary Committee as a re-write of nine bills. AKC GR issued an alert summarizing before testifying at the May 19, 2021, public hearing. The bill would insert domestic animals and livestock into the civil fine structure for lack of adequate shelter or sanitation for dogs. Civil fines collected would be forwarded to the Homeless Fund that provides money for ACO training and the state spay/neuter program. It also provides the court with great latitude in deciding how long the offender will be prohibited from owning animals, including exceptions if an offender can prove they are capable of caring for animals or have sought required counseling. AKC GR is monitoring this bill.
Michigan – House Bills 4703 and 4704 address the issue of animals being seized, and the payment of their care during impoundment. As introduced, the bills amend current law and clarify that the owner or possessor may request a hearing within 14 days to determine if the requirement to pay is justified and the cost is fair and reasonable. AKC issued an alert and drafted a letter to the committee expressing concerns with the underlying law. Numerous amendments were adopted by the House in November, including allowing the court to consider the ability of the defendant to pay and ensuring that if the owner is found not guilty, then the animals must be returned. However, it is unclear if this provision applies if a payment is missed during the trial. The bills have passed the House and are pending in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
Minnesota – House File 208 seeks to create a Companion Animal Board as the primary authority for regulating companion animals. The Board will be given broad powers to regulate animal welfare in the state. Although it requires that one “member must be a companion animal breeder”, the rest of the Board would be comprised of 12 members, most of whom will not have the level of animal husbandry expertise and experience of breeders and sportsmen, nor will they be directly impacted by the Board’s actions. The AKC has expressed opposition to the bill. Click here for more information.
Missouri – Senate Bill 1200 seeks to establish “Pet Breeders Week” in Missouri to recognize the value of responsible and humane breeders and hold public education and other activities to promote responsible breeding in the state. AKC GR and its state federation support this bill, which had a hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee on April 4. The bill has now been incorporated into House Bill 1720 regarding agricultural economic opportunities. HB 1720 passed the House on April 7 and is pending in the Senate.
Missouri – House Bills 1588 and 1657 and Senate Bill 697 would prohibit municipalities from enacting breed-specific laws. AKC sent alerts in support of the bills and to encourage residents to call and oppose discussed amendments to add mandatory spay/neuter to these bills. AKC also submitted written testimony and the federation testified before the committee. No attempts to amend the House bills were approved, and the bills are now pending in the House Rules Committee. SB 697 was considered by the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee on March 2.
Missouri – House Bill 2204 is similar to bills introduced in previous sessions that would make reasonable amendments to the state’s cruelty laws to ensure the protection of the welfare of animals and the property rights of owners when animals are seized in conjunction with a trial regarding animal cruelty. AKC and its federation support this bill, which passed the House Agriculture Policy Committee on February 15 and is pending in the House Rules Committee. Read more.
New Hampshire – SB 368 has been filed at the request of the Commissioner for the Department of Agriculture and Markets to address challenges enforcing the licensed pet vendor requirements. It would provide authority to seize animals maintained by a pet vendor and housed in the licensed portion of a premise if, within 30 days of license revocation, the animals have not been transferred to another person. AKC GR and NH DOGS raised constitutional issues among other problems at the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources public hearing on January 11, 2022. The committee amended the title and text of SB 368 to establish a hearing officer revolving fund and fines of up to $5,000 for any second or subsequent violation of the pet vendor license laws. Amended SB 368 passed the Senate on March 24 and the House Environment and Agriculture Committee had a public hearing on April 12.
New Hampshire – HB 366 would authorize a court to order psychological evaluation and treatment for animal cruelty caused by animal hoarding disorder. The House Environment and Agriculture Committee held a work session on September 14, where AKC GR reviewed recommended changes to the draft. The committee voted to next secure review and input from the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who is a retired judge. AKC GR participated in that review process and the Chairs are now working on amendments. The bill has been referred to an interim study.
New Hampshire – Representative Gallager reached out to AKC GR for assistance with his bill, HB 1186. It would mandate that emergency shelters allow individuals to relocate with their companion animals when ordered to evacuate. Per NH’s Disaster Animal Response Team, four emergency trailers across the state can be deployed, but significant gaps in the emergency response plan exist. AKC GR testified in support of the bill’s intent on January 25 and worked with the committee on an appropriate amendment to require emergency shelters make space for trailers or other pet accommodations on site. HB 1186, as amended, was voted ought to pass by the House on March 15 and has now been sent to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
New Hampshire – HB 1327 supported by AKC GR, would include diabetes in the conditions listed for eligibility for a service animal. On February 16, 2022, it was voted “ought to pass” by the House Committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee scheduled a public hearing for March 16 and AKC GR submitted testimony in support.
New Jersey – Assembly Bill 1965 seeks to provide for an advocate in cases involving animals, and is a reintroduction of legislation considered in the 2020-2021 legislative session. Like its predecessor, A.1965 initially featured troublesome findings, which were removed by the Judiciary Committee. A.1965 was also amended to create a two-year initial term for the program. The bill still fails to explicitly state that animals are to be considered property under New Jersey law. AKC GR and our representatives in New Jersey, along with allied animal interest groups, continue to oppose A.1965. Click here for more information.
New Jersey – As introduced, Senate Bill 333 sought to prohibit persons convicted of criminal animal cruelty offenses from owning domestic companion animals and from working or volunteering at animal-related enterprises. AKC expressed deep concerns with section 2 of the bill, which would have allowed a court to order (1) the forfeiture of any animal owned by an animal cruelty offender and (2) the transfer of such animal to the custody of an animal shelter. In effect, the section failed to protect the property interests of co-owners not in possession of a dog at the time of the offense. A significantly amended version of S.333 was approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Monday, March 14, which addresses AKC’s concerns.
New Jersey – Senate Bill 981 seeks to add troublesome “cost of care” provisions that could be used to erroneously deprive individuals of their property by mandating forfeiture if they fail to pay assessed costs for care of seized animals, regardless of whether the individual is found not guilty. Despite conflicts with provisions in amended S.333, the bill was approved unamended by the Senate on Monday, March 24; and has been assigned to the Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee. AKC GR and our representatives in New Jersey continue to work with sponsors of the legislation to address concerns.
New York – A.4283/S. 1130, opposed by AKC, would prohibit retail pet stores from selling any dogs or cats. Instead, they would only be allowed to “showcase” animals available for adoption from a shelter, rescue, or adoption agency that has no affiliation with breeders. As such, they would no longer be required to provide background information on the dogs or provide consumer protection for sales. The bills also imply that reputable breeders should not be involved in rescue work. In 2021, AKC issued numerous alerts, submitted written testimony, had meetings with lawmakers, and submitted op-eds in opposition. The bills passed the Senate and two Assembly Committees, but were ultimately held in the Assembly Rules Committee. In 2022, the bills have been assigned again to the respective Agriculture committees. AKC GR met with the Senate bill sponsor and staff for the Senate Agriculture Chair to discuss concerns.
New York – Assembly Bill 9284 and Senate Bill 8315 would further expand and clarify the new law prohibiting insurance companies from denying or canceling coverage based solely on the breed of dog owned by the homeowner. These bills would state that insurance companies may not raise premiums for homeowners insurance based solely on the breed of dog at the home. AKC supports these bills. A. 9284 passed the Assembly on March 30 and is pending in the Senate Insurance Committee. S. 8315 is pending a vote by the full Senate. Read more.
New York – A. 8859 would prohibit companies offering renters insurance from denying or canceling coverage based solely on the breed of dog owned by the renter. This would expand the new law passed in 2021 that protects homeowners. AKC supports this bill, which has been referred to the Assembly Insurance Committee.
New York – A. 6246 seeks to further regulate animal shelters, including licensing, inspections, and standards of care for animals. The bill passed the Assembly Agriculture and Codes Committees and is pending in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. Its companion bill S. 6870 is pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Oklahoma – HB 2993 and SB1326 would regulate and prohibit tethering in the state under certain circumstances. At this time neither bill has received a hearing and are pending in their respective committees.
Oklahoma – SB1223, supported by AKC, would make it a misdemeanor for anyone without a disability or anyone that is not trained to assist those with a disability to misrepresent an animal as a service dog to gain special treatment or benefits. The bill was passed by the Oklahoma Senate in February, but is still awaiting consideration before the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Oregon – Animal rights activists have been collecting signatures to put a measure on the November 2022 ballot that would essentially ban all hunting, prohibit certain breeding practices including artificial insemination, and restrict training practices. Other provisions would dramatically impact farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and even pest control. On March 16, it was pulled for 2022 and is now being put forward for the 2024 ballot as IP 3. AKC is working with two broad coalitions to oppose the measure. AKC GR has also joined the new Oregon Sportsmen Conservation Partnership to discuss legislative solutions to protect performance events and hunting in the state. Read more.
Pennsylvania – House Bill 2047 will enhance the punishments for breeders who abuse animals and make it more difficult for them to game the system when they lose their licenses. The bill would change the first violation for the mistreatment of dogs under their care from a summary offense to a misdemeanor. The maximum fine would also double. Additionally, the legislation would prevent any immediate family member of the offender from obtaining a license as well as anyone who resides at the same residence. The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. AKC GR will continue to monitor the bill, which is not scheduled for a hearing.
Pennsylvania – HB 142 would exempt certain Dog Law revenues from being transferred into a separate account. Since 1988, all fines, fees and costs collected by the Pennsylvania judicial system in excess of the amount collected from the same sources during Fiscal Year 1986-87 are deposited into the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account. This includes certain monies that would otherwise be used to fund operations of the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement has been operating at a deficit because the licensing fees it receives do not generate enough revenue to fund operations. HB 142 would exempt from transfer approximately $200,000/year in fines, court fees and costs received under the Dog Law. HB 142 passed the House and is now in the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
Pennsylvania – HB 526 / SB 232 are reintroductions of legislation from last session that seek to increase dog license fees to provide additional funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. As proposed, the legislation changes the dog licensing requirement from 12 age weeks to 8 weeks but eliminates differentiation between intact and spayed/neutered dogs. AKC GR and the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs met with the Bureau director regarding the proposed legislation. AKC GR was recently contacted regarding alternate language for the licensing requirement and recommended that it be kept at the current three months of age or older or upon transfer to a new owner, whichever comes first. Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement and the bill sponsors have indicated that they agree to the change. Both bills are in their respective chamber’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. AKC GR will continue the monitor these bills.
Pennsylvania – SB 234 seeks to establish a retail pet store ban in favor of showcasing shelter and rescue dogs for adoption. AKC GR met with the Senate staff to discuss the legislation and offer better alternatives than an outright ban. In both the meeting and follow up, AKC GR encouraged the sponsors to introduce enhanced consumer protection legislation that provides consumers with better information and protection irrespective of the source of dogs, including rescues and shelters which are currently exempt. AKC GR will continue to monitor the bill, which is pending in committee and likely will not be scheduled for a hearing or any committee action in the foreseeable future.
Pennsylvania – SB 907 would establish the Animal Welfare Board to review existing state laws and regulations related to the keeping and handling of animals. The Board is to be comprised of individuals representing various stakeholder organizations and representatives from the PA Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General’s office. Due to several meetings and conversations with the sponsor’s office, the board will also include a representative from the American Kennel Club, the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, and Northeast Beagle Gundog Federation. The bill passed Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on April 5, and awaits action by the full Senate. AKC GR will continue to work to encourage the Majority Leader to bring the bill up for a full vote by the Senate.
Rhode Island – S. 2227 and H. 7678 have been re-filed for consideration this session. The bills would authorize the court to appoint a student attorney or pro bono attorney in any civil or criminal case to represent an animal in the interests of justice. AKC GR and the Rhode Island ACLU are in opposition. HB 7678 had a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on March 10 and AKC GR and the Rhode Island kennel clubs expressed opposition given it would change the property legal status of animals and provide non-human legal rights instead. The bill has been held for further study.
Rhode Island – H. 6624 would establish an animal abuser registry that requires pet sellers to check the registry prior to transfer and face penalties for transferring an animal to a convicted abuser on the registry. This bill is a re-filed measure that AKC GR has previously expressed concerns with and did again via telephone to the House Judiciary Committee on January 25, 2022. It has been held for further study.
Rhode Island – H. 7021 would authorize the emergency treatment and transport of a police K9 injured in the line of duty. AKC GR supports this bill. AKC GR issued an alert requesting support before the public hearing on February 3, 2022 by the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill has been held for further study.
Rhode Island – H. 7088 would amend the district courts’ domestic violence protections to include pets in protection orders. We applaud this effort, particularly given the complex dilemma involving pets and domestic violence situations. However, AKC GR is concerned about the use of the word “custody” in H. 7088 and recommended on January 25, that the House Judiciary Committee reserve this legal term for children only. The bill has been held for further study.
Rhode Island – H. 7087 would create a court procedure for pets in divorce and separation proceedings based on the best interests of the animal. Long-standing legal traditions in the United States provide that pets are considered the legal property of their owners, under which their care and treatment is ensured. Last session, AKC GR worked with the bill sponsor to amend the predecessor bill by replacing “custody” with “possession or ownership”. AKC GR testified in support of H. 7087 on January 25 and the Committee voted on March 10 that it ought to pass. The House passed H. 7087 on March 22 and it was sent to Senate Judiciary committee for review.
Rhode Island – H. 7305 would add the general agent of the Rhode Island society for the prevention of cruelty to animals and any special agents appointed by the society while enforcing any of the laws of this state in relation to cruelty of animals to the definition of peace officers. This is to clarify the role of these agents and AKC GR will monitor the bill. The bill had a hearing February 17 and has been held for further study.
Rhode Island – H. 7572 is a re-filed bill that would prohibit a person convicted of killing an animal or of unnecessary cruelty to animals amounting to torture from owning or exercising control of an animal for life. Violators would be subject to a fine of one thousand dollars ($1000) for each violation. The House Judiciary public hearing was March 10, 2022. The bill has been held for further study.
Rhode Island – H. 7573 would create a legal process by which formerly cohabitating parties could seek from the district court a determination as to ownership of any pet. Because it would change the legal status of animals as property, AKC GR opposes HB 7573 and submitted written testimony for the House Judiciary public hearing on March 10. The bill has been held for further study.
Rhode Island – H. 7785 would authorize the director of the department of environmental management to establish quarantine zones for animals and would permit the examination of any quarantined animal therein. AKC GR submitted testimony in support of the measure for the March 10, 2022 public hearing by the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. The bill was reported favorably and passed by the House on March 17 before being sent to the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee. On April 6, the Senate Committee received public testimony on S. 2751, identical to H. 7785, and AKC GR submitted testimony in support.
Rhode Island – H. 7573 would create a legal process by which formerly cohabitating parties could seek from the district court a determination as to ownership of any pet. Because it would change the legal status of animals as property, AKC GR opposes HB 7573. The bill has been held for further study.
Rhode Island – S. 2121 is intended to protect the welfare of animals left unattended in motor vehicles by expanding law enforcement officers’ current authority to rescue an animal in distress. If enacted, an officer would have the authority to maintain custody of the animal for 72 hours or until a court hearing was scheduled where the court may refuse to return custody of the animal to the owner. AKC GR submitted testimony for the March 29 public hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing concerns that, as written, the bill violates due process protections governing personal property. The bill has been held for further study.
Rhode Island – S. 2651 was filed to ban the import of large animals into the state for canned hunting activities by defining and prohibiting “captive hunting”. The definition expressly excludes the release of upland game birds for hunting, but AKC GR and the Northeast Beagle Gundog Federation have concerns that the text may unintentionally harm lawful beagle training and field trials with rabbits. Both AKC GR and the Federation submitted testimony with a recommendation to also expressly exclude these activities in the text of S. 2651 for the Senate Judiciary hearing held on March 29. The bill has been held for further study.
South Carolina – H 3066 seeks to increase penalties for teasing, injuring or killing a police dog or horse. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.
South Carolina – H 3067 seeks to require that any second violation of the Chapter on Cruelty to Animals, which includes violations under which no animal is harmed, would require forfeiture of ownership of all animals and a prohibition from owning an animal for five years. H 3067 has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.
South Carolina – H 4094 contains problematic findings and seeks to restrict ownership of and require registration of fertile pit bull dogs with a governmental animal control agency. These requirements would apply to “American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers,” dogs displaying the physical traits of one or more of the listed breeds, or a dog exhibiting the distinguishing characteristics that conform to the standards established by the AKC for any of the breeds. AKC GR issued an alert and sent a letter of concern to subcommittee members. H 4094 appeared on the agenda of the House Special Laws Subcommittee, but was not considered during the 2021 session. It could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.
South Carolina – S 186 would remove certain exemptions for hunting dogs under state cruelty laws while protecting the use of recognized and responsible training techniques and devices. S 186 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
South Carolina – S 378 would increase penalties for teasing or injuring police dogs and horses, and provide that a person convicted must pay restitution for costs of restoring or replacing a police animal and complete 500 hours of community service. S 378 passed in the Senate and has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.
South Carolina – S 556 seeks to make changes to certain laws that govern trapping in the state. As introduced, this bill could have increased hazards for dogs whose owners participate in field trials, Coonhound events, hunting, and training for these sports, as well as hiking, wilderness camping, and other outdoor activities with dogs. The bill was favorably amended in committee to address certain concerns. It passed in the Senate and was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. Read AKC GR’s alert on S 556 as it was originally introduced.
Tennessee – HB 1646 / SB 2013 seek to make it an offense to knowingly and unlawfully cause serious bodily injury to or kill a police dog, fire dog, search and rescue dog, service animal, or police horse without the owner’s effective consent. AKC GR supports this legislation, which continues to advance. SB 2013 is pending consideration by the Senate.
Tennessee –HB 1967 / HB 1778 would provide that a county or municipality shall not adopt, enact, or enforce rules, regulations, resolutions, or ordinances relating to a specific breed of domesticated animal. While AKC GR supports this legislation in principle, concerns have been communicated that the bill is captioned to allow amendments that could affect eight sections of state law. AKC GR continues to monitor these bills
Tennessee – HB 547/ SB 511 would require any person who, during a twelve-month period, possesses or maintains ten or more intact female adult dogs for the primary purpose of selling their offspring as household pets, to register with the Department of Commerce and Insurance. Registrants would be subject to inspections biennially and at the discretion of the commissioner, and rules and fees would be set by the commission. Registrants could not participate in organized or home-based dog rescue activities. AKC GR worked with sportsmen’s groups to oppose the bill, distributed information and talking points at Nashville-area dog shows, and met with key Senators prior to committee consideration. The bill was sent to “General Sub” in the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee, which means it has been put “on hold.” The Tennessee legislative session lasts two years, and therefore the bills remain active until the end of the 2022 session.
Tennessee – HB 1322 / SB 948 would require law enforcement agencies to annually report statistics and policies regarding police canine units to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) commission and require the POST commission to develop and implement state guidelines for the training, care, and use of police canine units for law enforcement purposes. AKC GR will continue to monitor this legislation.
Tennessee – HB 2034 / SB 2305 address tethering a dog. Problematic amendments seek to delete several performance exceptions that allow for safety tethering a dog, including while hunting, in a public recreational area, or during agricultural activities. HB 2034 remains in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. SB 2305 failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Read more about these and other tethering bills.
Tennessee – SB 1788, failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill would have enacted engineering standards and additional vague requirements for providing shelter for dogs, and would have made some responsible dog owners’ effective and humane care practices illegal. Read more about why AKC opposed SB 1788 as introduced.
Tennessee – HB 2860 / SB 2243 seek to make it an offense for a person to restrain a dog with a tether or similar device when a severe flooding or tornado warning, or a mandatory or voluntary evacuation order, is in effect for the geographic area where the dog is located. The bills, as introduced, are written so broadly that they could increase the risk of harm to a dog by prohibiting a person from “restraining” their dog to keep it close by in conjunction with preparation to evacuate or during an evacuation with the dog. Amendments were offered that address some, but not all concerns. HB 2860 remains on the agenda of the House Criminal Justice Committee. SB 2243 was recommended for passage with amendments in the Senate Judiciary Committee and referred to the Senate Calendar Committee. AKC GR issued letters of concern and action alerts.
Texas– AKC continues to closely monitor developments on local issues in Texas. Thanks to these efforts AKC was made aware of the development of ordinances that could ban the retail sale of dogs at pet stores in multiple cities. New Braunfels and Dallas are currently considering ordinances to prohibit retail sales at pet stores. AKC submitted letters to both city councils and continues to monitor further developments and coordinate opposition to the proposals.
Vermont – SB 155 would reorganize public safety services within the Executive Branch and create the Agency of Public Safety to oversee functions, including provision of administrative support to the Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board. Last session, Vermont charged this board with providing training and certification to animal control officers in the state. Before releasing the bill favorably, the Senate Government Operations Committee amended SB 155 and included a requirement that state agencies review domestic animal welfare oversight responsibilities and make recommendations for legislation to ensure public health and safety. AKC GR and the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs support this work and an alert was issued. SB 155 as amended was passed by the Senate on March 24 and was sent to the House Government Operations Committee. AKC GR submitted a letter of support.
Vermont – HB 250 would impose a strict liability standard for injury caused by domestic dogs. More than 30 states have this standard. The House Committee on Judiciary is reviewing the measure.
Vermont – HB 622 would require the Office of Professional Regulation to license service dog trainers that provide service dog training services to individuals with a disability. AKC GR is monitoring this bill.
Vermont – SB 129 proposes to transfer the authority to adopt rules for the taking of fish, wildlife, and fur-bearing animals from the Fish and Wildlife Board to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. It would also amend the authority of the Fish and Wildlife Board so that it serves in an advisory capacity only, to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. This bill was carried over from last year and has resulted in considerable debate during March 2022 by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. Sporting and hunting stakeholders are concerned these changes weaken the role of board appointees representing counties from across the state. AKC is monitoring the bill.