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Taking Command Newsletter

State Issues February 2019

News from the State Capitols

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

California –
AB 588 would require shelters to disclose any history of bites for dogs available for adoption. AKC GR is following this bill closely and will provide additional testimony/comment as appropriate.

California – SB 64 would prohibit a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group from releasing a dog or cat to an owner, or adopting out, selling, or giving away a dog or cat to a new owner, unless the dog or cat is microchipped.

SB 21 would extend the work of the state taskforce on the humane treatment of animals in municipal and regional animal shelters until January 2020.  Last session, the taskforce advocated for expanding their charge to examining and reporting on the care of companion animals. Testimony has been submitted requesting a seat on the taskforce for the state vet and for the taskforce to examine licensure for Connecticut shelters and standardizing the behavioral assessment of animals prior to re-homing.

GeorgiaSB 32, which seeks to limit liability for property damage caused by the rescue or attempted rescue of animals locked in motor vehicles, was amended by the Committee on Special Judiciary to remove negligence, willful or wanton misconduct, or malfeasance as exceptions to the limits on liability.  AKC GR and the Georgia Canine Coalition continue to monitor this measure.

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

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

Idaho Senate Bill 1312 would increase penalties for any person who purposely injures or harasses a service dog or a service dog in training, or allows an animal to injure a service dog. The bill also defines what constitutes a service dog and what does not. The bill has been referred to committee.

Illinois – House Bill 1645 would make it a misdemeanor for someone to intentionally misrepresent their animal as a service animal.  AKC and its Illinois federation are both supporting this bill, which is scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee on February 26.

Illinois – House Bills 2933 and 3620 would delete the language from the Illinois Safe Pets Act enacted in 2017 and replace it with a restriction that pet stores may only source dogs from shelters, rescues, or breeders with fewer than five intact females.  AKC is expressing concerns to the sponsors and committee on these bills, which remove consumer protection laws and instead limit a consumer’s choice to purchase a dog from a regulated source.  Both bills are pending in the House Rules Committee.

Iowa – House Study Bill 114 rewrites a number of the state’s cruelty laws.  As introduced, however, the bill had several unclear provisions, including making it unclear who is permitted to perform tail docking and dewclaw removal.  Another section states that a person can be accused of animal mistreatment if they fail to provide reasonable and necessary veterinary care. It also states that if a person cannot afford the costs of veterinary care, they must transfer ownership to someone who can. It is unclear how this would impact situations such as a person with a senior dog with a serious illness who may choose in conjunction with a veterinarian to make the dog as comfortable as possible, but to forgo extensive and expensive treatments. AKC and local clubs have communicated with the sponsor and committee, as well as with other stakeholders to express our concerns and request clarifications. The bill has passed an initial subcommittee and is pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

Iowa – House File 176 makes it an offense to knowingly remove, damage, or destroy a dog’s rabies vaccination tag or electronic handling device.  AKC understands from the bill sponsor that this language will be incorporated into House Study Bill 114 and may be considered by the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, February 25.

Iowa – Senate Study Bill 1075 as introduced provides clarifying changes regarding penalties for animal abuse and mistreatment.  Local kennel clubs have requested amendments to ensure that animal wardens permitted to handle abuse cases do not extend to third parties.  AKC has been in direct contact with the sponsor to offer expertise and assistance.  The bill was considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 19.

Kentucky SB 67, a bill that seeks to establish the crime of sexual offenses against animals, was amended and has passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 67 includes exceptions for accepted animal husbandry procedures, artificial insemination procedures, and conformation judging procedures as recommended by AKC in response to problematic bills filed in previous sessions. AKC GR continues to monitor this measure.

Maryland – HB 135 and SB 152, as introduced, could have caused an owner to permanently lose ownership of their animals when they are suspected of cruelty – even if they are ultimately found not guilty – if they miss even one payment for the care of their animals during any trial and appeals process. The cost of care is determined by the agency that seized and is caring for the animals. SB 152 was significantly amended to address concerns expressed by AKC and the Responsible Dog Owners of Maryland federation.  The amended bill as well as HB 135, which has not been amended, are pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

Maryland – House Bill 501 would penalize those who keep their dogs tethered outside unattended for 30 minutes when the temperature is above 90 or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  AKC is reaching out to the sponsor and suggesting more effective alternatives.  The bill is scheduled for consideration in the House Environment and Transportation Committee on February 27.  Read more about this legislation and how to comment.

Massachusetts – 2018 passage of SB 2646, PAWS II, established a special commission to study and report on the feasibility and cost of mandating that employees and contractors of the department of children and families, employees and contractors of the department of elder affairs and investigators for the disabled persons protection commission report known or suspected animal cruelty, abuse and neglect, and of mandating that animal control officers report known or suspected abuse of children and elderly and disabled persons. AKC GR has been invited to a workgroup convening in April to make improvements to the data collection for 2020 and 2021 supporting the prohibition of breed discrimination practices among insurers.

MississippiSB 2014 would allow for the protection of pets in a protection order.  AKC GR supports this measure, which passed in the Senate and has been transmitted to the House.

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

Montana HB 466 Proposes to establish definitions for a “legitimate service animal “and establish penalties for the misrepresentation of an animal as a service dog.

New Jersey – A. 4552 prohibits the leasing of dogs and cats.  AKC has provided testimony sharing concerns that A4552 would not only ban lease-to-own arrangements but also leases commonly utilized by hobby breeders and enthusiasts to preserve and continue particular bloodlines and breeds of dogs. AKC GR has provided amendment language to address this issue.

New Jersey – Assembly Bill 781 would establish a process for recovering the cost of caring for domestic companion animals involved in animal cruelty investigations. A781 does not require courts to consider whether the defendant is able to pay and that costs are a lien against the animal until all payments have been made. AKC GR recommended that courts be required to determine a defendant’s ability to pay.  The bill as amended passed the Assembly and is pending in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

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

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

New Jersey – Multiple bills (A3044 /S2514/A3048) designed to regulate professional groomers have been introduced in response to media reports regarding the deaths of dogs while in the custody of professional groomers. A3044, which currently has been amended per AKC’s request, to exclude grooming a dog for a dog show or other competitive event from the definition of pet groomer.  Additional amendments are expected. AKC is also working with other legislators and key stakeholders on legislative language to require that professional groomers pass a training course on basic health and safety standards prior to licensing.  A3044 passed the Assembly in October.  A3044 and S2514, were considered by the Senate Commerce Committee on February 7.  The AKC expects additional amendments to these bills.  Read our legislative alert.

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

New Hampshire – HB 688 requires registration and inspection of all hobby breeders; and establishes an electronic database to track the transfer of ownership of all dogs and cats with health certificates.  AKC GR and federation members testified in strong opposition on February 7th.  Other hobbyists present testified in opposition.  The committee is deciding whether to establish a committee to resolve controversial issues in the bill.

New Hampshire – SB 161 strikes from law the definition for “commercial kennel” and would require anyone transferring ownership of 20 or more animals to be licensed as a “pet vendor”. AKC GR and federation members along with other hobbyists testified in strong opposition on February 7th.

New Hampshire – HB 316 Would remove the $5 permit required to train dogs during the off season.  After public hearing, the committee concluded the measure was Inexpedient to Legislate.

New Mexico – House Bill 598 was brought forward by the Rio Grande Kennel Club and would allow first responders to perform emergency care on animals until they can be transported to a veterinarian.  This bill, supported by the AKC is pending in the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committees.  Read more about the details of this bill and how you can help support it.

Nevada AB 165 This is newly introduced legislation that would allow for families to collect non-economic damages for injury to or the loss of a dog.

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

Ohio – Recently the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has been interpreting a near 10-year old definition of “pet store” to include all who sell dogs in face to face transactions.  AKC has sent an open letter to ODA outlining the error of their interpretation and asking they immediately reverse this action.  AKC will also be meeting with key legislators in the near future to discuss options for protecting hobbyists and home-based breeders in Ohio.  Read AKC’s notice and letter for more information.

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

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

Oregon – SB 723 As introduced, this bill would have effectively prohibited any event, contest or competition that uses game birds or game animals for prizes, inducement or entertainment. This could have impacted hunt testing, hunt trials where dogs earn titles, and hunting in general. A hunt test title – or even a ribbon – could be construed as a “prize” and fall under the prohibited provisions of this bill. AKC Government Relations has closely tracked this bill and been in touch with sporting event organizations. The bill has been scheduled for a committee hearing on Feb. 28, 2019, to address proposed amendments that will remove the onerous language that would affect dog events and dog use.

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

Rhode Island – HB 5023 and SB 225 expands family court jurisdiction to enter protective orders to provide for the safety and welfare of household pets in domestic dispute matters.  The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Rhode Island – On February 27th the House Committee on Health, Education & Welfare is scheduled to hear multiple bills of serious concern to AKC GR. HB 5265 would establish an Animal Rights Advisory Council made up of predominantly animal rights groups to issue annual recommendations to the legislature.  HB 5433 would allow the seizure of animals if in the opinion of an animal control officer there is suspected neglect or abuse, for example, indicated by an animal being lame.  HB 5072 would prohibit pet stores from the sale of dogs not sourced from a shelter, rescue or pound.  Rhode Island kennel clubs and responsible dog owners are asked to clear their calendar and attend this hearing to express your concerns together with AKC GR.

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

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

TennesseeHB 233 seeks to criminalize possessing, owning, buying, selling, transferring, or manufacturing animal fighting paraphernalia with the intent that the paraphernalia be used in promoting, facilitating, training for, or furthering animal fighting or baiting. While AKC strongly opposes illegal animal fighting, the items named in the bill as paraphernalia include treadmills, which are commonly used in animal physiotherapy and conditioning, and other implements used by animal control agencies. It is unclear how “intent” would be determined, particularly by manufacturers or sellers of those items. HB 233 has passed in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

Vermont –
HB 158 An Act Relating to Standards for The Care of Domestic Pets was heard on February 14th.  AKC GR supports the principle of the proposal; ensuring proper care and treatment of pets.  However, AKC GR’s testimony requested amendments to the bill because it uses the word “custody” instead of “possession” or “keeper” of animals, which could blur the line between an animal and a person, and thus between property and a person, especially when it comes to dogs.  The AKC believes that using legal terms like “custody” or “guardian” may in fact reduce the legal status and value of dogs as property and thereby restrict the rights of owners, veterinarians and government agencies to protect and care for dogs.  In addition, the proposal reduces the notice period for an owner to reclaim their pet from one week to three days and AKC GR has advocated that the current notice period be maintained.

Virginia – House Bill 1625 originally clarified laws regarding outdoor shelter laws, but was significantly amended in the Senate Agriculture Committee to include unreasonable tethering laws and a provision that will allow local governments to pass new, stricter laws on basic standards of animal care including food, water, exercise and veterinary treatment.  A conference committee has been appointed.  Read more about the concerns with this bill.

Virginia – HB 1827 would regulate tethering, including requiring that, unless the dog is being walked on a leash, all tethers should be at least 15 feet long.  This is one of several bills on this issue under consideration, and fortunately none of the other problematic provisions seen in other legislation is included.  AKC and its Virginia federation requested an amendment to address the remaining concern.  This bill was defeated in the Senate Agriculture Committee, but Senate Bill 1025 and House Bill 1625 remain active.

Virginia – Senate Bill 1025 seeks to regulate tethering, and also allowed localities to pass their own, stricter laws regarding the care of animals.  At the request of the AKC, its state federation, and numerous clubs and sportsmen, the bill has been amended to address the majority of concerns.  One provision does remain that requires tethers to be at least 10 feet in length.  This was decreased from the original requirement of 15 feet.  All language regarding local laws has been removed.  The bill as amended has been approved by the House and Senate.  Read more about this legislation.

Virginia – Senate Bill 1043 would require that commercial breeders sourcing to pet stores or dealers in the Virginia to sign a form verifying they are in compliance with the commercial breeder laws. This includes a potential misdemeanor for even minor paperwork errors.   It is unclear how this would be enforced on breeders outside the Commonwealth.  AKC has expressed concerns with the enforcement of this bill, as well as the concern on imposing Virginia’s 50-dog ownership limit on commercial breeders in other states.  The bill was ultimately held in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources.

West Virginia – House Bill 2185 as passed by the House would allow certain first responders to remove an animal from a vehicle if the animal’s health, safety or wellbeing appear to be in immediate danger.  The person removing the animal must leave written notice in a secure and conspicuous location with the officer’s name, title, and location where the animal may be retrieved.  Owners must make a payment (or arrangements for payments) for maintenance, care, and medical treatment.  The committee amendment also clarifies that a member of the general public may not enter vehicles to remove animals.  The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Washington – HB 1026 discourages local jurisdictions from passing BSL.

Washington — HB 1640 and SB 5209. These are identical pet shop bills that would require retail pet stores to sell dogs, cats and rabbits that have come from humane societies, rescue organizations or animal shelters. AKC GR has submitted comments and is closely tracking this legislation. Read the alert.

HB 2822 aligns the definition of a “service dog” with the ADA and makes it a civil infraction to misrepresent a pet as a service dog.  AKC provided testimony to both houses in support. The bill passed both houses and has been delivered to the Governor.