News from the State Capitols
Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking.
Connecticut – Established in Public Act No. 22-54, the Department of Agriculture has convened a workgroup to explore a state-wide dog license portal. In addition to the Conference of Municipalities, the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association and the Town Clerks Association, AKC and the Connecticut Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners are discussing provisions for the pre-use testing of the portal by each category of intended users and an implementation plan for consideration by the General Assembly next year. This would include flat fees regardless of whether or not a dog is sterilized.
Maine – At the November Animal Welfare Advisory Council meeting, members noted that the dog license subcommittee had not met and no new information was provided. Discussion did focus on the lack of access to timely veterinary services to meet the rabies vaccination requirements for dog licensing in the northern part of the state. Members and AKC GR offered ideas on hosting rabies clinics and purchasing affordable microchips in bulk.
Massachusetts – On October 28, the House Ways and Means Committee released HB 5364, a redraft of legislation establishing a special commission of 15 members to study and report on the use of service animals in the commonwealth. AKC GR submitted testimony during the formal session in support of the original bill filed as HB 1563 by Representative Kimberly Ferguson. One seat on the commission would represent an organization specializing in the advocacy, education or training of service animals appointed by the governor. It is pending consideration by the Joint Rules Committee.
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 and are pending consideration by the full Senate.
New Hampshire – The New Hampshire House of Representatives has begun filing legislative drafts for the next session. AKC is reviewing bill titles as they become available for any nexus with our mission.
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.
New York – Assembly Bill 4283/Senate Bill 1125 restrict pet stores to only sourcing pets from shelters and rescues, and removes the state’s consumer protection laws for those who choose to obtain a pet from a local pet store. The bills passed the legislature and will likely soon be transmitted to the governor. AKC GR has met with the governor’s office to express concerns and offer more effective solutions.
New York – A. 6246/S. 6870 further regulate animal shelters, including licensing, inspections, and standards of care for animals. They also mandate a 48-hour quarantine for all dogs imported into the state for sale, as well as a rabies vaccination for all dogs over three months of age. Dogs temporarily in the state for exhibition are exempt, so long as they are under the control of their owner or handler and have proof of rabies vaccination. The bills have passed the Senate and Assembly and will soon be transmitted to the governor. The governor’s office asked AKC’s position and we indicated our support for her signing this legislation.
New York – Senate Bill 8973/Assembly Bill 9296 clarify laws requiring animal control and police officers to seize dogs not on the owner’s property and are not identified or licensed, or pose a threat to public safety. These bills would allow the officer to return any dog with a current license to the owner if there is no probable cause that the dog is dangerous. The dog may be returned to the owner of record at the address provided on the license. The bills have passed the Assembly and Senate.
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, which have each passed their respective chambers.
Ohio – House Bill 725 would only allow ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal and debarking procedures to be performed by a veterinarian using proper anesthesia. The bill is not yet assigned to a committee. It is unlikely to advance this year but could be reintroduced in 2023. AKC GR staff met with the sponsor to discuss the measure and secured a commitment for amendments. AKC GR is also in touch with sporting groups and veterinarians who are also concerned with the measure.
Oregon – Animal rights activists are 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.
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 the Senate on June 20 and has been referred to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. Read more
Pennsylvania – SB 1289 is entitled the “Dog Law Modernization Act”. This bill removes the increased license fees for intact animals and also updates kennel licensing and dangerous dog laws. In addition, rescues will have an increased license fee based on the number of dogs in their network in the state, as well as reporting and other requirements. AKC GR has had numerous discussions with the sponsor’s office and the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement regarding the language to ensure it is as fair and reasonable as possible. The bill passed the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on June 22 and is pending consideration by the full Senate. Read more about this bill.