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Taking Command Newsletter

State Issues January 2019

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.

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 the service dog. The bill also defines what constitutes a service dog and what does not. The bill has been referred to committee.

– 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.  The commission may recommend future legislation and AKC GR is attending these monthly meetings.

New Jersey –New Jersey Assembly Bill 4552 seeks to prohibit the leasing of dogs and cats.  The American Kennel Club supports a ban on predatory pet leasing schemes that victimize potential owners, undermine a lifetime commitment to a pet, and do not confer the rights and responsibilities associated with legal ownership of a pet.  The AKC is concerned, however, the A4552 would not only ban those lease-to-own arrangements but also leases commonly utilized by purebred dog fanciers and enthusiasts to preserve and continue particular bloodlines and breeds of dogs. Read more. 

New Jersey – Assembly Bill 781 would establish a process for recovering the cost of caring for domestic companion animals involved in animal cruelty investigations. AKC GR is concerned that 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. To ensure that individuals are not erroneously deprived of their property, 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 AB 2318 was passed by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and an amended version of SB 1860 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. AKC GR is working with the sponsor of A.3044 and its companion bill, 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.  A.3044 passed the Assembly in October and is pending in the Senate Commerce Committee. Read our legislative alert.

New Jersey – S 2820 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 S 2820 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 316, An Act relative to the law governing training permits for the training of bird dogs and trail or tree hounds, would remove the $5 permit required to train dogs during the offseason.  After dialogue with AKC and the NH federation, DOGS, the sponsor added text to the proposal to ensure that removal of the permit requirement would not result in a prohibition of training dogs in the offseason. The bill was filed on December 31 and committee assignment is pending.

North Dakota – North Dakota House Bill 1259, which is scheduled for consideration by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, January 16, 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. The AKC strongly condemns those who characterize dogs as service animals when they are not, or who attempt to benefit from a dog’s service dog status when the individual using the dog is not a person with a disability. Read more. 

New Mexico – House Bill 53 would increase the fee on pet food brands sold in the state in order to fund a low-cost spay/neuter program for low-income animal owners in the state.  AKC kennel clubs and other groups are expressing concerns with this bill, which is scheduled for a hearing in the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee on January 23.  A similar bill was vetoed in the 2018 session.

Rhode Island – HB 5023 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.

Vermont – 2016 Act No. 155, Section 1943 tasked the creation of an Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board (ACIAB) for the purpose of reviewing Vermont’s existing systems for investigating and responding to animal cruelty complaints, and making recommendations to the Legislature regarding a streamlined, collaborative process that provides the best services to Vermont’s animals statewide.  The Board has finalized and submitted a 2018 report to the legislature highlighting two main concerns: antiquated statutory language and lack of consistent state oversight.  AKC GR is reviewing the report in detail.

Virginia – House Bill 2257 would require that when a dog declared dangerous attacks or kills another person or their domestic animal, the owner of the dangerous dog must pay emotional distress damages.  While AKC strongly believes people should be held accountable for their dog’s actions, this bill sets a dangerous precedent of elevating the legal status of animals beyond property.  This creates many new legal challenges and concerns.  AKC and its Virginia federation are monitoring this bill and reaching out to the sponsor.  The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources.

Virginia – Senate Bill 1043 would require that commercial breeders sourcing to pet stores or dealers in 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 is pending in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources.

Virginia – Senate Bill 1065 would prohibit the leasing or financing of animals when the animal is held as collateral.  In language similar to that AKC recommended in other states, it specifically exempts dogs being used for breeding, shows, or as service animals.  AKC is monitoring the bill, which is pending in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources.

West Virginia – House Bill 2346 as passed by committee 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 on second reading in the House.

WashingtonHB 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.

Washington – House Bill 1026 appears to be a compromise on breed-specific legislation. The bill encourages local jurisdictions from passing BSL. However, the bill provides also states that in cases where cities opt for BSL,  dogs that have passed the AKC Canine Good Citizens program would be allowed in those jurisdictions. AKC GR provided comments on the legislation, which was considered by the House Public Safety Committee on January 21. Read more on this bill.