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News from the State Capitols

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

California AB-240: This proposal would create a tax on the sale of pet food for cats and dogs in order to provide dedicated funding to animal shelters for the spaying and neutering of animals. The bill is awaiting referral to the relevant Assembly committee. Given the current high cost of food, AKC has concerns over this bill in the way it’s currently constructed.

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. The Department has indicated it will request a placeholder filing with the legislature as it finalizes its draft legislation.

Connecticut – HB 5450 would prohibit discrimination in insurance underwriting based on the breed of a homeowner’s dog.  Representative Nuccio has filed this bill after successfully getting a model act adopted by the National Council of Insurance Lawmakers last year.

Connecticut – HB 5469 would facilitate the annual licensing of dogs by requiring the provision of information concerning the law relating to dog licensing by businesses concerned with the care of dogs.

Connecticut – HB 5215 would establish a taskforce to develop recommendations for legislation to address the epidemic of domestic dog attacks in the state and to expedite appeals of animal control officer orders and minimize the time impounded animals are held at taxpayer expense.

Connecticut – HB 5109 and SB 75 would authorize the emergency treatment and transport of police K9s injured in the line of duty.

Connecticut – HB 5039 would authorize a service animal to travel in an ambulance with its handler.

Connecticut – SB 729 would establish the Siberian Husky as CT state dog.

Connecticut – SB 53 would require veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal cruelty and neglect to the state.

Connecticut – SB 309 would make the dog licensing fees equitable between dogs that are spayed or neutered and dogs that are not spayed or neutered.

Florida – Reintroduced in 2023 is a bill that seeks to exempt records containing certain information pertaining to persons who have adopted an animal from a local animal shelter or animal control agency from public records requirements. AKC GR remains concerned that this legislation could hide pet trafficking under the guise of rescue from public oversight. HB 157 has been referred to the Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee and additional committees.

Indiana – HB 1121/SB 134 seek to prohibit local governments from banning the retail sale of pets from specific sources.  AKC GR and its state federation expressed concerns over the bills as introduced, as they created new definitions of “hobby breeder” and “casual breeder”.  The sponsors and chairs agreed to amend the bills to address these concerns, and also added consumer protection language for pet store sales.  The bills both had public hearings on January 23 in their respective Agriculture Committees and votes are pending.

Kentucky HB 103 seeks to amend animal cruelty provisions. AKC will recommend certain friendly amendments to clarify this bill if it advances. It has not received a committee assignment.

KentuckyHB 115 seeks to expand provisions regarding protections for assistance dogs and working K9s. AKC supports this bill as introduced. It has not received a committee assignment.

KentuckySB 56 seeks to prohibit pet stores from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits, but does not restrict pet stores from “showcasing” pets from animal shelters and nonprofit organizations that “adopt” animals. Showcasing of pets would be prohibited for any entity that is affiliated with a breeder, thereby excluding many club-related volunteer dog rehoming groups. The bill has not received a committee assignment.

Maine – LD 157 would require the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to adopt rules that set standards for animal rescue entities, including but not limited to rescue dog operations, that specify staff-to-animal ratios and that govern animals that are returned multiple times and resold or placed in multiple homes.

Massachusetts – HD 2483 would provide consumer protections at dog day care businesses and is supported by multiple animal welfare organizations including AKC.

Massachusetts – HD 2497 has been re-filed as “Ollie’s Law” and would impose requirements such as staffing ratios for boarding, training, dog day care and personal kennels.

Massachusetts – SD 2136 would among other provisions require a minimum of 100 square feet per dog for outdoor enclosures and ban the kenneling of any dog outside unattended for more than 5 hours or from 10pm to 6am.

Massachusetts – HD 2938 is a re-filed bill that would require pet groomers be licensed by the state and comply with regulations related to the safety, sanitation and operation of a pet grooming business. The proposed definition of “pet groomer” does not make an exception for professional dog handlers traveling to Massachusetts to exhibit a dog.

Massachusetts – HD 2216 would ban animal testing of cosmetic products when an alternative test method is available.

Mississippi – HB 530 is an overreaching dangerous dog bill that seeks to authorize confiscation of a dog following certain complaints. It also allows a dog to be declared dangerous under loosely stated provisions, including if the dog “bit” or “caused physical injury” to a person. The bill includes broad requirements regarding euthanasia of dogs declared dangerous and other problematic provisions. It has been assigned to the House Judiciary B Committee.

Mississippi SB 2123 seeks to increase penalties for harming a service animal. It is supported by AKC as introduced. The bill is assigned to the Senate Judiciary B Committee.

MississippiSB 2228 seeks to establish provisions for the sale and renewal of pet insurance policies. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Insurance.

Missouri – HB 296 would prohibit localities from enacting breed-specific laws.  AKC and its state federation support this bill, which is pending committee assignment.

Missouri – HB 630 would establish new provisions to protect the rights of owners when their animals are seized on suspicion of cruelty.  This includes ensuring the owner gets the animals returned if they are found not guilty, prohibiting the shelters from sterilizing the animals unless necessary to save a life, and allowing the animals to be housed with a trusted third party that is not a shelter or rescue (which could include co-owners and breeders).  AKC GR and its state federation support this bill, which is pending committee assignment.

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 Hampshire – HB 258 would establish a certification for animal chiropractors and require veterinarian referral.  Amendments are in process.

New Hampshire – HB 230 would direct the department of agriculture, markets, and food to employ an electronic data processing system for all registrations under its purview. It appears this would result in an expansion to the state pet vendor license database that is out for bid.

New Hampshire – HB 141 would authorize dogs off leash on certain hiking trails and state parks so long as owner has leash and dog in voice or physical control at all times.

New Hampshire – HB 260 would prohibit the operation of motor vehicles by drivers with animals on their laps or in contact.  Comments regarding exceptions for service dogs and dogs suffering an emergency on the way to the veterinarian have been submitted by residents.

New Hampshire – HB 249 would establish regulatory standards for the pet insurance industry. It has been referred to the House Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

New Hampshire – in addition to defining biodiversity and requiring its inclusion in certain land use regulations, SB 164 would create a contract for “guardianship” to preserve the rights of domestic animals and wild animals.

New Jersey –  Assembly Bill 4920 seeks to regulate “residential kennels”, defined as a “residential property owned or rented by a person on or at which the person keeps, houses, or otherwise possesses 15 to 25 dogs.”  It would impose numerous requirements on residential kennels, including municipal licensing and inspection requirements, commercial kennel operation standards, and onerous recordkeeping requirements.  AKC is concerned with S.4920’s impact on breeders, its risk of violation of privacy rights, and its potential to lead to the elimination of “residential kennels” in municipalities that choose not to issue licenses.  The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Agriculture and Food Safety Committee.

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.  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 – Over 200 bills relating to animal welfare and dog ownership have once again been introduced in New York State.  The majority of the bills are identical to bills introduced for the past several years but never received hearings.  AKC GR is reviewing all the bills and will provide updates when needed.

New York – A. 111/S.1659 would allow a court to appoint an advocate to represent the interest of animals in cruelty cases.  AKC is opposing these bills, which are pending in their respective Judiciary Committees.

New York – A. 1149 would prohibit renter’s insurance companies from denying or canceling coverage based solely on the breed of dog owned by the renter.  AKC supports this legislation, which is pending in the Assembly Insurance Committee.

New York – S. 142 would ban debarking in the state unless necessary to alleviate an illness or injury.  AKC GR is expressing concerns with this bill, which is pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

North Dakota – House Bill 1388 seeks to create a program under the oversight of the Attorney General to assist retired local and state law enforcement dogs.  It will allow for a handler that possesses a retired enforcement dog to submit itemized receipts each quarter for medical bills, food, and other essential needs, which will be reimbursed by the Attorney General, up to $1,000 per year.  HB 1388 also creates an annual appropriation of $30,000 for the program.

Oklahoma SB 349/HB 2059 would repeal the existing commercial dog breeder and animal shelter licensing act under current Oklahoma law. AKC has reached out to the bill sponsor’s office and asked for more information on this legislation.

Oklahoma HB 1992 would create a “dog and cat bill of rights” that states that dogs and cats have the right to be respected as sentient beings and further requires rescues and shelters to post notice that a dog or cat deserves to be spayed or neutered, deserves to be free from cruelty and deserves mental stimulation and exercise. While AKC agrees with some of the points raised in this legislation, the language used in the bill implies that dogs and cats have rights, which are afforded to people. For this reason, AKC is requesting some changes to the language. A similar bill was introduced last year in California but the bill was amended and removed the language asserting that these animals have rights at the request of AKC, veterinarians, animal shelters and numerous other animal welfare groups.

Oregon HCR-8 would designate rescued shelter dogs and cats as official state pet and is currently before the House Rules Committee. AKC has concerns that this bill promotes a negative image around pets and pet ownership.

Oregon SB-496 would amend state Emergency Housing Account to include funding to be used for grants to assist pets of individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness when accessing housing. The bill has been referred to the Senate Housing and Development Committee. AKC supports this bill and looks forward to supporting its passage into law.

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.

South CarolinaH 3238 seeks to require a person, on a second conviction for certain offenses, to forfeit all animals regardless of the nature or severity of the offense, and to not own an animal for up to five years. This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

South CarolinaH 3682 seeks to eliminate necessary protections under current law regarding the award of costs of care for a confiscated animal. It provides that a hearing would only determine if confiscation was authorized, thereby trampling due process rights of the accused. The bill is referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

Texas HB 80 would allow municipal animal control officers to manage aggressive dogs outside their municipal jurisdiction if an affidavit is signed by two residents of separate households requesting assistance and alleging that a dog has repeatedly attacked humans, or other animals or asserting that due to the presence of a dangerous or aggressive dog the jurisdiction is unsafe.

Texas HB 274 would amend the Cat and Dog Breeder Act and require anyone who possesses 5 or more intact females to become licensed and regulated as a dog breeder. Current law requires licensure if a person owns 11 or more intact females and sells more than 20 animals in a calendar year. Similar legislation was introduced during the 2021 Texas Legislative Session but did not receive any committee hearings. AKC has expressed concerns to the bill sponsor and will continue to closely monitor this legislation and provide updates as necessary.

Texas HB 309 would require rescues and shelters to collect a refundable $75 fee for any dog or cat purchased. The fee would be reimbursed to individuals that show proof of sterilization.

Texas HB 598 creates an offense for the possession of an animal by a person convicted of animal cruelty. The bill would make it a misdemeanor for those who have been convicted of animal cruelty to exercise control of any animal or to reside in a household with an animal present.

Texas HB 674 would require licensed breeders to provide a bill of sale to the purchaser of any animal sold. The bill of sale must include the name of the breeder and license number, a description of the animal sold, and the amount paid for the animal. AKC is currently monitoring this legislation.

Texas HB 870 would prohibit pet stores from selling dogs sourced from breeders and would only allow pet stores to sell dogs sourced from rescues and shelters. A similar bill went through both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate in 2021 but the bill did not receive final approval from the legislature due to some last-minute changes. AKC has expressed concerns with this legislation to the sponsor and will continue to work to educate the legislature about our position on pet choice.

Texas HB 978 creates an offense of cruelty by a pet groomer if a with criminal negligence commits a number of different acts on an animal that contributes to seriously injuring or killing an animal.

Texas HB 1014/HB 1159/SB 2349 requires a housing authority that allows tenant ownership of a pet to comply with county or municipal laws related to dangerous dogs.

Texas HB 1348 would prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances or regulations that regulate the practice of veterinary medicine or that prohibits a veterinarian from performing a procedure that is not already prohibited by state law.

Virginia – HB 1984 as introduced seeks to amend the definition of “adequate water” in the Commonwealth Code align with the federal Animal Welfare Act by specifying that for dogs, “adequate water” means water that is continuously available, unless restricted by a veterinarian, in a receptacle that is cleaned and sanitized before being used to provide water to a different dog or a different social grouping of dogs.  In conversations with the sponsor office, AKC GR has been informed that a substitute will be offered that eliminates the word “sanitized”, seeks to make it applicable only to commercial settings, and only requires “continuous access” when the dog is in its primary enclosure.  The bill is being considered by the House Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee.

Virginia – HB 1985 seeks to codify regulations proposed by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services governing the keeping of dogs and cats by pet shops and pet shops to register and pay a $250 annual registration fee to the Department.  The bill also provides for the State Animal Welfare Inspector to conduct at least one unannounced, annual inspection of each pet shop and provides certain standards for the Inspector and pet shop owner in order to address any violations.  The bill is being considered by the House Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee.

Virginia – HB 1451 provides for the assessment of a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation when a pet shop does not maintain a written record for each dog in its possession containing certain information or fails to post a notice stating that USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service inspection reports are available prior to purchase. Currently, such violations are subject to the enforcement provisions of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.  The bill is being considered by the House Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee.

Wyoming – HB 95 establishes the “Working Dog Protection Act”, which would prevent localities from passing laws that restrict or ban the use of “working dogs”, which includes dogs used for hunting, ranching, exhibition, and “human service”.  AKC supported this bill in 2022, which passed the House but failed in Senate after significant opposition from animal rights groups.  AKC supports the bill again this session, which is pending in the House Agriculture Committee.