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News from the State Capitols

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

California – AB 1881 as introduced established a “Dog and Cat Bill of Rights”.  While the bill only required that the list be posted at shelters and rescues, AKC joined many organizations in expressing significant concerns about putting “rights” of animals in law and the implications this has for changing the legal status of animals in the state.  The Assembly Business and Professions Committee amended the bill on April 26 to remove all references to the word “rights” in the actual code text. Instead, while the author may call it the “dog and cat bill of rights”, the actual chapter will now be called “Dog and Cat Welfare”.  The amendments also clarify that the purpose is solely for education. AB 1881, as amended, passed the Assembly and passed the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development, Judiciary, and Appropriations Committees.  It is pending consideration by the full Senate.

California – AB 1901 as introduced would have regulated all trainers in the state as boarding kennels, regardless of whether dogs are kept overnight.  AKC, dog trainers, clubs, and many others expressed opposition to this proposal and worked to educate the committee and author of the many problems should this bill pass.  As such, the author agreed to remove all the requirements and instead require certain disclosures when a trainer starts with a new client. This includes providing the goals of the class, training philosophy, and whether or not the trainer is certified. It does not mandate that a trainer be certified in order to teach classes. The bill passed the Assembly and two Senate committees.  It is pending consideration by the full Senate.

California – AB 1648 would require anyone who has a city or county kennel license to also have an animal disaster preparedness plan.  As passed by the Assembly, there are no specific instructions or guidelines for what should be included in this plan. AKC understands the purpose of this bill and amendments is to allow local officials to act quickly to help animals in case of a disaster situation.  The bill is pending consideration by the full Senate. Read more.

California – AB 2723 would amend current law regarding microchipping when a dog is adopted from a local shelter.  As amended by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, when a shelter or rescue transfers ownership of a dog, they must provide information including microchip company information, if the dog has a current microchip number, and any other information needed so the new owner can register themselves as the primary contact on the microchip.  In addition, before transferring or selling a dog, the shelter or rescue much document and keep records of all efforts made to contact the microchip’s primary contact, if the dog is microchipped. The bill is pending consideration by the full Senate. 

California  AB 2380 would prohibit a person from obtaining a loan in order to purchase a dog or cat if the loan is offered, arranged, or facilitated by a merchant or retailer. The bill passed the Assembly and the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee. It was removed from the Senate Appropriations Committee and is now pending a vote by the full Senate. 

California  SB 971 as amended requires that public housing financed by the state allow residents to own or maintain “common household pets”. A refundable deposit may be required, but landlords may not require a monthly fee to keep the animal. Considerations may be made to limit the number of animals based on the unit’s size and prohibitions on potentially dangerous or vicious dogs. The landlord may not place restrictions based on an animal’s size or weight, but may have leashing, nuisance or liability insurance requirements. The bill has passed the Senate and the Assembly and will be sent to the Governor.

Massachusetts – On July 11, the Massachusetts Senate suspended its rules and approved SB 2994 (which was previously SB 1322, opposed by AKC).  The bill originally sought to address injuries and deaths at dog daycare facilities, but would have negatively impacted individual dog owners, as it included restrictions on the right to own and keep dogs; and made broad, significant changes to state law that would result in duplicative license requirements. Senate Bill 2994 also removes protections in current law for owners of personal kennels.   As such, most owners of personal kennels would be subject to municipal licensing and regulations, including inspections of home-based kennels.  The bill also removes the recognition in current law of keeping dogs for personal, non-commercial use.  AKC GR issued an alert urging residents to contact the House of Representatives to express opposition. The response statewide with dog owners and breeders expressing concerns was significant.  AKC GR is pleased to report SB 2994 did not advance further before the legislature adjourned its formal session on August 1.

 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. The bill was reported favorably by committee and referred to the committee on Senate Ways and Means. It is unlikely to advance now that the legislature has adjourned its formal session.

 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, but noted that definitions for animal shelter and rescue in the bill were inconsistent with current law. The committee advanced the bill favorably. HB 901 passed the House and small changes were made in the Senate before the bill advanced to the Governor’s desk and was signed August 8 as Chapter 149 of the Acts of 2022.

 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, 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 waited for placement on the Senate calendar but, is unlikely to pass now that the legislature has adjourned its formal session.

 Massachusetts  SB 2672 was released favorably 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 monitored this bill but, it is unlikely to advance now that the legislature has adjourned its formal session.

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, 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 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 14 and are pending consideration by the full Senate.

 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 that addresses AKC’s concerns unanimously passed the Senate on May 26, 2022.  The bill is now under the cognizance of the Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee.

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; 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.

Oregon – Gun control advocates have collected enough signatures to place a measure on the November 2022 ballot (Ballot Measure 114) that will require new registration, background checks, training requirements and other measures to purchase and own firearms.  AKC issued an informational notice so those using certain firearms for performance events would be aware of the changes should the measure pass in November.  Numerous sporting groups are opposing the measure.

Oregon – 
Animal rights activists are once again collecting signatures to put a measure on the 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.  The initiative was pulled for 2022 and is now being put forward for the 2024 ballot as Initiative Petition (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.