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Taking Command Newsletter

State Issues August 2021

News from the State Capitols

Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking.

CaliforniaHR 61 is a resolution that declares the Assembly’s intention to only support “sensible and humane therapeutic veterinary procedures for companion animals.”  As defined, this could mean the Assembly opposes such procedures as ear cropping, tail docking, and dewclaw removal, among other veterinary surgical procedures. While not the same as law, AKC has expressed significant concerns with the implications of this resolution and sent an alert to California and parent clubs urging them to contact the author’s office and their State Assemblymember in opposition. AKC has also submitted comments to the author’s office. The resolution was introduced on July 14 and no further action has been taken at this time. AKC GR continues to closely monitor the status of HR 61.

California HR 63 recognizes September as Service Dog Appreciation Month to honor service and working dogs, and declares “that Californians are grateful for the service and dedication these loyal companions provide for their owners and communities.”  AKC GR supports this bill, which celebrates and recognizes the important work of service and working dogs.  The bill is pending in the Assembly Rules Committee.  Read more.

California AB 468 would further clarify the difference between trained service dogs and emotional support animals, and particularly emphasizes that emotional support animals should not be granted the same privileges and access. The bill passed the Assembly, as well as the Senate Judiciary and Appropriations Committees.  It is pending consideration by the full Senate. Read AKC’s alert for more information.

California – AB 1282 establishes procedures for phasing out commercial blood banks for animals (also defined in the bill as “captive closed-colony” blood banks), which are facilities where animals are kept, raised, and housed for the sole purpose of blood collection.  Read AKC’s previous alert for more information.  On August 16, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to place the bill in the suspense file, essentially meaning it will not advance further this year.

Connecticut – Deputy Speaker Mushinsky is planning to convene a workgroup in September regarding legislation for therapy dog recognition.  A representative of AKC Government Relations will be invited to participate.

Georgia – SB 303, a problematic dog breeder bill, did not advance during year 1 of the 2021-2022 legislative session. The Georgia Canine Coalition and other groups are working to communicate concerns with the bill and to urge that is not considered in 2022.

Illinois  HB 1711 bans the retail sale of pets in pet stores and prohibits any rescue affiliated with a breeder to source to a pet store. AKC GR and its state federation joined a broad coalition in opposing this bill, which limits pet choice and implies that a rescue is the best place to get a dog. HB 1711 passed in the House and Senate and was sent to the governor, who has until the end of August to take action on the bill.

Louisiana – HB 223 sought to define proper shelter for a dog as an upright, weather resistant structure with three walls, an opening, a roof, and a floor; free of waste and standing water; and of sufficient in size for an animal to stand in an upright position, turn around, and make normal posturing positions. It would exclude animal carriers, plastic crates, and other enclosures designed to provide temporary housing. Advocates sought friendly amendments to also allow for the use of “igloo” style dog houses and other commonly used and appropriate shelters. The bill did not advance during regular session.

Louisiana – HB 231, among other provisions, sought to amend certain provisions under current law that require the disposal of dogs seized in conjunction with an accusation of dog fighting. It would have allowed the appointment of a veterinarian or other suitable custodian to care for and individually assess each dog to determine of the dog is suitable for placement. AKC GR supported HB 231 in principal, but had concerns about specific sections of the bill. It passed in the House with amendments, and did not additionally advance during the regular session.

Louisiana – HB 605, among other provisions, sought to levy sales and use tax on veterinary services and animal boarding services. The bill did not advance during the regular session.

Maryland – SB 103 originally sought to regulate the Internet sales of animals by pet stores.  However, it contained potentially problematic language for users of Facebook and other social media “brag” pages to showcase dogs and puppies that might be available for sale. The bill as amended in 2020 and re-introduced in 2021 addressed AKC’s concerns, and references to Internet sales were removed. Prior to passage in 2021, further amendments were added to clarify that a pet store does not include situations where animals are sold at establishments where they were bred, and the buyer and seller are both present during the sale or transfer. The bill as passed also created a task force to study canine breeding facilities and sourcing standards, examine canine breeding practices, and make recommendations for legislative actions by December 1, 2021.  The Task Force, which includes a representative from the AKC, held its first meeting on August 12, 2021.

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 and request that they co-sponsor the bill; and as a result, a significant number of new legislators signed on as co-sponsors. A companion bill, SB 1606, was refiled in the Senate. AKC GR issued an alert and testified in support before the Joint Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on July 14, 2021.

Massachusetts – SB 230 and HB 384 are refiled bills that seek to ban the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops unless they are sourced from animal shelters or rescue organizations. Similar to past versions, the proposed animal shelter and rescue definitions are problematic because they exclude rescue activities by breeders. The bills initially were assigned to the Joint Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee for review, which last session redrafted them to create consumer protections irrespective of the source of the pet. The bills have been reassigned to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. AKC GR anticipates public hearings this fall.

Massachusetts HB 305 seeks to establish state licensure for commercial boarding and training kennels and would specify staff-to-dog ratios; group sizes and supervision; housing and care conditions; indoor and outdoor facility requirements; dog handling requirements; insurance; and fire and emergency plans. In addition, the state would approve required training programs regarding animal behavior, dog body language, and other subjects for employed staff. Injuries to dogs or people would be reported to the state. Other types of kennels (including personal kennels) could be required in the future to obtain state licensure in addition to a municipal kennel license, subject to rules and regulations relating to animal care and health as suggested by an advisory committee. AKC GR issued an alert and testified at the July 12 public hearing.  Following the hearing, AKC GR recommended changes to the bill.

Massachusetts – HB 378 would require anyone who grooms a pet for money to pass approved testing standards and obtain a state grooming license. Grooming facilities would also undergo periodic inspections to ensure compliance with rules and regulations issued. Use of a cage or box dryer would be prohibited. Violations would result in penalties ranging from $100 to $1,000 per offense. AKC GR testified at the public hearing on July 12, 2021, regarding concerns detailed in AKC GR’s alert. Following the hearing, AKC GR met virtually with the bill sponsor’s office and outlined suggested amendments to the legislation.

 New Hampshire HB 92 would establish a committee to study best practices for companion animal groomers.  The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee has scheduled a work session for September 7, 2021, at 10:30am.

New Hampshire – AKC GR and NH DOGS testified in support of HB 249, which seeks to authorize animal shelters to own or lease a facility rather than be required to own it. The bill also clarifies which exemptions to health certificate requirements apply to animal shelters, and requires that shelters contact the microchip owner of record before any transfer of the animal. HB 249 passed the House. AKC GR also testified in support of HB 249 before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill passed the Senate, and then the House on June 11. Governor Sununu signed it into law on August 17. These provisions take effect 60 days following signature.  Read more.  

New Hampshire – Prior to enactment of a 2019 law, a commercial breeder in the state who transferred fewer than 50 dogs in a year was not required to get municipal zoning authorization as a prerequisite for state licensure. In 2019, legislation was enacted that removed the state’s definition of commercial breeder and classified a person as a pet vendor if they transfer 25 dogs in a 12-month period. The 2019 change required all applicants for a pet vendor license to obtain municipal zoning authorization. As a result of this legislative change, several dog breeders who were previously licensed were not granted municipal zoning authorization and have been unable to obtain the state’s new pet vendor license, which is a violation of their due process rights. HB 250 addresses these issues by (1) raising the minimum transfer threshold to 35 dogs, and (2) “grandfathering” those breeders who were not previously required to petition local authorities for authorization before obtaining a state license so they will not need local authorization before applying to operate as a pet vendor. AKC GR and the New Hampshire Dog Owners of the Granite State testified in support of the bill. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee lowered the dog transfer threshold to 30. The bill as amended was signed into law by Governor Sununu on August 17.

New Hampshire HB 338, supported by AKC, increases the penalty for dog theft and illegally tampering with tracking collar. Governor Sununu signed the bill into law on July 29, 2021. It will take effect on January 1, 2022.

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 has scheduled a work session for September 14, 2021, at 1pm.

New Hampshire HB 367 would enact certain requirements for a dog, cat, or ferret imported into the state for transfer of ownership.  Requirements include receiving a health certificate from a licensed veterinarian and being held for a 7-day quarantine period. A work session has been scheduled for September 14, 2021, at 2pm, by the House Environment and Agriculture Committee.

 New Hampshire HB 585 would allow the prepayment of dog licensing fees for the duration of a rabies vaccination. The House Environment and Agriculture Committee will be working on this bill during their work session scheduled for September 14, 2021.

 New Hampshire SB 17, among other provisions, would permit brew pubs to allow customers to bring dogs onto outdoor areas. The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a work session on the bill for September 8, 2021, at 11:30am.

New Jersey – As introduced, AB 1365 would have prohibited the “harassing or taking” of wildlife at competitive events. The intent of similar legislation introduced in other states is to prohibit contests during which the goal is the killing of the most wildlife. However, the original wording of AB 1365 could have impacted clubs offering performance events in New Jersey. The bill was amended in a recent committee hearing to address AKC’s concerns.  The New Jersey Legislature is expected to remain in recess until late 2021. Read more.

New Jersey – As introduced, A.2401/S.3607 sought to establish new dog-related rules, including overreaching requirements for “large dogs.” AKC opposes the targeting of a specific phenotypic group of dogs for additional regulation.  Read a bill summary and concerns about its impact.  A significantly amended version of A.2401 was adopted by the Assembly Agriculture Committee on June 21.  A floor vote on the bill was scheduled for June 24, but the bill was not considered before the legislature went into recess. Read the most recent information about this legislation.

New Jersey – SB 2868 seeks to establish a courtroom advocates (“lawyers for dogs”) program in the state. The bill features broad language that will likely impact the legal classification of animals in the state. The bill passed the Senate and has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. AKC GR is working with a coalition of interest groups in opposition to SB 2868 as currently written.  The New Jersey Legislature is expected to remain in recess until late 2021.  Read more.

New York – AB 4075/SB 4254 seek to prohibit insurers from refusing to issue, renew or cancel, or raise premiums for homeowner’s insurance based on breed of dog (or mixed-breed) owned by the policyholder. The bill does allow for insurance companies to take these actions if any dog (regardless of breed) has been declared dangerous based on current law, so long as these actions are based on “sound underwriting and actuarial principles” that are reasonably related to actual or anticipated loss. This legislation, supported by the AKC, has passed both the Assembly and the Senate. AKC will be sending information soon on contacting the governor to ask him to sign the legislation into law.

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 same sources during Fiscal Year 1986-87 are deposited into the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account and used to operate the statewide judicial computer system. 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 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 from all sources of obtaining 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 – AKC GR has been working with the State Senator Gene Yaw, who has drafted legislation to establish the Domestic Animal Welfare Board to review existing state laws and regulations related to the keeping and handling of animals, including, but not limited to, the Dog Law; the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law; cruelty to animals; laws and regulations relating to humane society police officers; and the Animal Welfare Act.  The Board will make recommendations for legislative and regulatory changes.  As drafted, the board will be comprised of individuals representing various stakeholder organizations and representatives from the PA Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General’s office. AKC GR has been working to ensure that appropriate stakeholders and experts are included. Target date for introduction of the legislation is September.

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 include 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. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.

 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. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.

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. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.

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. SB 511 was sent to “General Sub” in the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee, which means the bill has been put “on hold” and is very unlikely to be considered again in 2021. The Tennessee legislative session lasts two years, and therefore the bills remain active until end of the 2022 session.

Tennessee – HB 803 / SB 903, among other provisions, would increase penalties for offenses against more than nine non-livestock animals. This type of legislation is sometimes referred to as “multiple spilled water bowls equal a felony” bills. HB 803 was deferred to the Special Calendar of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. SB 903 has been assigned to the General Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Tennessee legislative session lasts two years, and therefore these bills remain active until end of session in 2022. AKC GR will continue to monitor these bills.

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. Action was deferred on these bills until 2022. AKC GR will continue to monitor this legislation.

Texas – The Texas Legislature is now in its second special session of 2021.  Seventeen agenda items have been identified for the legislature to consider, none of which involve dog-related issues. Nevertheless, House Bill 17 and Senate Bill 78, relating to the tethering of dogs, have been filed.  Neither bill is expected to receive consideration during the second special session.  Click here for more information.

Wisconsin – AB 276 would allow the state to establish regulations regarding food establishments, so long as no rule bans allowing dogs or cats if the establishment only sells pre-packaged food. A similar bill, SB 298, would also allow regulations regarding food establishments, so long as no rules ban allowing dogs at retail food establishments that receive no more than 5% of total revenue from food sales. The bills are pending in the Senate Sporting Heritage, Small Business and Rural Affairs Committee. Read more.