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Taking Command Newsletter

State Issues July 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.

SB 10, a measure supported by AKC GR which penalizes the misrepresentation of a service animal, was enacted as Act 2019-478 on June 7, 2019, and took effect immediately.

AlabamaSB 102, a measure supported by AKC GR which provides that a local law requiring a dog to be kept on a leash or otherwise restrained does not apply to an agricultural work dog while the dog is engaged in agricultural work or a hunting dog while engaged in hunting wild game, was enacted as Act 2019-486 on June 7, 2019 and takes effect September 1, 2019.

Arkansas – SB 654, which creates a civil penalty for misrepresentation of a service animal or a service animal-in-training, was enacted as Act 1002.

California –
AB 588 will require any animal shelter, rescue organization or humane society to disclose the history of any dog over four-month of age that has bitten a human. This bill has passed out of the Assembly and is now in the Senate.

California- SB 281 would establish a joint powers authority that would manage, develop, or dispose of the real property in San Francisco known as the Cow Palace. This bill is apparently dead for 2019, but could be revised for 2020, the second year of the two-year legislative session. While the impetus for this bill is to prevent gun shows, the sale of this venue would also affect dog shows and other animal events that are held each year at the site. AKC GR is monitoring this proposal.

California – AB 1125  will create the Animal Control Officer Standards Act and require the California Animal Welfare Association (CAWA) to establish and maintain training standards to certify animal control officers. CAWA is a non-governmental, California public benefit corporation that resulted from the merger California Animal Control Directors Association and the State Humane Association of California. This bill has passed out of the Assembly and is now in the Senate. AKC GR is closely monitoring this proposal.

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. The bill was passed by the Senate on a unanimous vote and is now in the Assembly.

California – AB 1553/SB787. These two identical bills will make changes to California law by replacing “animal pound” with “animal shelter,” and other similar language changes. AB 1553’s author says the changes are necessary to update “language to reflect how we treat and speak of our animals in the 21st century.” Both bills have passed out of the house of origin. While the changes are not substantive, AKC GR is closely monitoring both bills.

Connecticut – HB 7158 updates the regulation of commercial kennels to allow home-based pet sitting of up to 3 dogs without needing a commercial kennel license.  It passed the House and was then amended by each branch but, did not get final approval.

Delaware – SB 139 as introduced would prohibit dogs from being outside for 15 minutes if there is a weather advisory if the dog is unattended and not within sight of the owner – even if the dog is in the owner’s yard. At the request of the AKC, the House Health and Human Services Committee struck this language. As amended, the bill states that when a weather advisory has been issued, a dog may not be left out in conditions where its health and safety are at risk.  AKC and sportsmen groups are still asking for amendments to clarify that a dog may be off-leash when not on private property if participating in a field trial, hunt test, etc. The bill as amended will likely be considered in the 2020 legislative session. Read the alert. 

Maine – LD 1311 prohibits pet stores from selling dogs and cats and defines “animal rescue organization” as an entity with no affiliation to “breeders”.  AKC GR expressed multiple concerns and an initial committee vote resulted in an “ought not to pass”.  The committee reconvened a week later to reconsider and issued a divided report, but with a majority, voting ought not to pass.  To neutralize opposition, proponents amended the bill to eliminate the “anti-breeder” language and grandfather current pet stores in allowing them to sell dogs and cats but, prohibit future pet stores from selling dogs or cats. The bill was quickly adopted and has been sent to the Governor.  AKC GR has sent a letter expressing opposition to the bill and requesting a veto.  In an unusual move, the Governor has held the proposal and has five days after the next session convenes to make a decision.

Maine LD 1442 would authorize courts to appoint a volunteer lawyer or law student as an advocate in the interests of justice for any animal subject to cruelty.  AKC GR and the Maine Federation submitted testimony noting that the bill raises many constitutional and procedural issues as drafted. Due to a highly publicized animal cruelty case and despite the Judiciary committee issuing a Divided Report on the bill and the Federation and AKC GR meeting in the Senate President’s office to express concerns, the bill has been sent to the Governor for approval.  AKC GR has sent a letter to the Governor expressing concerns about this policy change.  In an unusual move, the Governor has held the proposal and has five days after the next session convenes to make a decision.

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.  The commission is exploring the pros and cons of an animal cruelty registry adopted by Suffolk County, NY.  A report with possible legislative recommendations is expected this fall and AKC GR is attending all meetings.

Massachusetts – Bills establishing and maintaining animal cruelty registries, adding animal “guardianship” and allowing for noneconomic damages in pet injury cases were considered by the Joint Judiciary Committee on May 14th.  AKC GR issued an action alert and submitted testimony in opposition to the committee.

Massachusetts – Multiple animal bills were heard by the Joint Municipalities Committee on June 4 to increase the focus on and regulation of breeders and pet stores; restrict the number of dogs owned and regulate dog daycare facilities.  AKC GR issued a legislative alert, testified with local breeders, and submitted written testimony expressing concerns. For example, HB 1822 would prohibit outdoor kennels and AKC GR is working with the bill sponsor to re-draft the proposal to avoid negative and unintended consequences.

Massachusetts – The Joint Revenue Committee held a public hearing for HB 2573 on July 23rd.  The proposal offers tax credits to promote the adoption of dogs and cats from shelters.  AKC GR has submitted testimony indicating concerns with this concept.

Massachusetts – The Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security considered Nero’s bill on July 18th.   The measure would allow EMTs to treat and transport law enforcement K9s injured in the line of duty.  AKC GR issued an action alert and testified in support of the measure.  Grassroots support from Massachusetts dog clubs has been significant.

Massachusetts – On July 22nd the Joint Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee took testimony from a crowded hearing room on SB 175 banning the retail sale of cats and dogs at pet shops and SB 118 requiring licensure for dog trainers.  AKC GR provided testimony expressing serious concerns with these measures and has an upcoming meeting with the House Committee Chair together with an AKC breeder of merit.

New Jersey – Assembly Bill 781 would establish a process for recovering the cost of caring for domestic companion animals involved in animal cruelty investigations. A.781 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 is pending in the Senate Environment 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 is pending in the full Assembly.

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) would regulate professional groomers.  The bills were introduced in response to deaths of dogs while in the custody of professional groomers. A3044 has been amended per AKC’s request to exclude mandatory licensing for grooming of dogs for the purpose of exhibition at a show or other competitive event.  AKC is also working on amendments to require a training course on basic health and safety standards prior to licensing.  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 remains 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 has worked 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 Jersey – Similar to proposals in other states, recently-introduced S3541 seeks to prohibit harassing or taking of certain wildlife at competitive events and establishes penalties.  The bill has been assigned to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee but has not been scheduled for consideration. AKC GR continues to closely monitor this legislation, though grassroots leaders have reported that this bill will not be considered.

New Hampshire – SB 77 requires the court to hear an animal cruelty case within 14 days and requires a defendant convicted of animal abuse to pay for the care and treatment of the animals seized.   After approval by the Senate, AKC GR and its state federation were successful in obtaining numerous positive House amendments including the creation of a municipal cost of care fund, court identification of co-owners upon seizure and a prohibition on permanent alteration of animals pending legal decision.  The House has tabled the bill to provide a period of education for members. Meanwhile, the Senate sponsor has moved to attach sections of SB 77 and SB 161 approved by the Senate to a House-approved bill, H. 459 on hemp farming.  AKC GR and NH DOGS were successful in requesting conference committee members add text to the bill securing the ability for a defendant to have that own vet examine their seized animals.

New Hampshire SB 161 eliminates the current definition of “commercial breeder” and labels anyone who transfers more than 20 dogs in 12 months as a “pet vendor”.  AKC GR and its federation are concerned about the impact on breeders. After hearing concerns from AKC and the federation, the bill was rewritten to require health certificates and to provide one additional staff at the Dept of Agriculture.  Further, amendments approved by the Senate Finance Committee allowed transfer of up to 25 dogs before requiring licensure and to create a cost of care fund for municipalities caring for seized animals pending legal outcome.  The Senate added this text to the state budget, HB 2 and AKC GR and NH DOGS has continued to issue alerts and work with stakeholders because the proposal eliminates breeders as a legal entity under New Hampshire law, in conflict with federal law, other NH statutes, and surrounding states’ laws.  Strong objections to the flaws in this draft and the process of adding it to the budget have been expressed to the Governor who has vetoed the budget and is working with the General Court to resolve tax and spending objections.

New York – AKC GR tracked over 200 bills in the state of New York and has currently commented on approximately 40 to date that would have a significant impact on New York dog owners.  During session, AKC GR reached out to committee chairs, alerted local clubs on how to communicate with their legislators.  Many of these bills could be considered again in 2020 and AKC GR encourages local clubs, breeders, and sportsmen to continue to communicate with legislators in the interim.  Read more.   

New York – A. 722 and S. 4253 would have prohibited all “contests” in which wildlife are killed or captured.  After hearing concerns from the AKC, its state federation, and numerous local clubs, the sponsor reached out to AKC GR to work on amendments.  It was amended to address AKC’s concerns, including exemptions for canine performance events and only applying the prohibition to contests where the object is to kill the most game.  The bill was left pending in the Assembly at the end of session but could be reconsidered in 2020.Read more.

New York – A.6298/A.6299/S.593/S.4234 would have prohibited pet stores from selling dogs or cats unless they were sourced from shelters and rescues. AKC and numerous stakeholders expressed significant concerns with these bills that would have limited pet choice and consumer protection.  None of the bills received a hearing.

New York – S.4577 would require the Department of Agriculture and Markets to issue “red and blue code alerts” through PSAs.  A “blue alert” must be issued when the temperature will reach 25 degrees or lower without precipitation, 32 degrees or lower with precipitation, or if the wind chill will be below zero degrees for at least two hours.  A “red alert” must be issued when the heat index is forecasted to be 95-99 degrees for at least two consecutive days, or temperatures will reach 100-104 degrees for any length of time.  No one may leave a companion animal outside or in a vehicle when an alert has been issued.  Those in violation will be given a warning, and if they do not comply, the animals may be seized.  The bill has been amended to exempt working dogs and situations when appropriate shelter is provided.  It is still unclear, however, if this will be required for animals being kept outside on a temporary basis or animals outside with their owners/handlers.  AKC GR and its state federation continue to express concerns and seek clarifications.  The NY General Assembly has adjourned for the year, but this has passed the Senate and is expected to be considered by the Assembly in 2020.

Ohio – In January 2019, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) began interpreting a nearly 10-year old definition of “pet store” to include all who sell dogs in face-to-face transactions.  AKC sent an open letter to ODA outlining the error of their interpretation and asking they immediately reverse this action.  AKC GR met with key legislators in Columbus to discuss options for protecting hobbyists and home-based breeders.  As a result of these discussions, an amendment was included in the state budget and approved in July 2019 that clarifies that a pet store does not include home-based breeders or those who sell fewer than 40 dogs in a year.

Oregon – When introduced, SB 723 as introduced, would have prohibited any hunting contest that used birds or animals and offered prizes. This language would have detrimentally affected dog hunt testing and field trials. Government Relations submitted comments that were included in the amendments that narrowed the bill’s focus solely to coyote hunting contests. The bill was passed by the Senate and is now in the House. AKC GR, along with dog clubs and sportsmen’s groups is monitoring this bill. The bill was ultimately held in a House committee.  Read AKC’s alert for more information.

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 submitted comments to the sponsor. The bill was ultimately held in committee.

Pennsylvania – In mid-July, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (Department) reissued a temporary order designating several animal diseases as “dangerous transmissible diseases”, including Canine Brucellosis (Brucella canis). The Department advised that prevention of B. canis is key, and all dogs entering a breeding kennel or used for breeding should first be test-negative or come from a brucella-negative source.  Ongoing and regular testing of breeding stock, along with proper biosecurity and sanitation of breeding facilities, is recommended to prevent disease transmission. Read the alert.

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 is working with the state federation and Senate Judiciary Committee on alternatives, including promoting a positive consumer protection bill already introduced.  The bill is pending in committee.

Rhode Island – Despite strong opposition by AKC GR and stakeholders such as RI ACLU, H. 5433 allowing an animal control officer to seize and animal upon suspicion of neglect or abuse without securing a warrant was voted favorably by the House Health, Education and Welfare committee.  Efforts to block this bill in the Senate were unsuccessful because the state agency believes it already has this authority; so the Governor signed the bill into law July 12, 2019.

Rhode Island – H. 5113 establishes and maintains an animal cruelty conviction registry and requires all pet sellers to check the registry prior to transferring ownership of animals.  AKC GR submitted testimony outlining concerns with accurate identification of animal purchasers and the broad “pet seller” definition proposed.  The bill sponsor has agreed to accept amendments by the Senate to distinguish hobby breeders from pet sellers under the Act.  Despite active push back on the bill from the RI ACLU and mental health groups in the state, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended passage, but the bill was then defeated on the Senate floor.

Rhode IslandS. 225, supported by the AKC, would protect pets in a domestic abuse situation. The Governor who signed it on June 28, 2019.

Rhode IslandS. 699 makes updates to the animal husbandry statutes; re-drafts the bill requiring pet stores to source animals only from shelters and rescues and instead requires that they only source from breeders with no USDA violations or shelters and rescues with no violations of state law.  AKC GR submitted testimony in support and the Governor signed this bill into law July 8, 2019.

Rhode Island – H. 5072 prohibits pet shops from selling dogs or cats not sourced from animal shelters or rescues.  AKC GR testified in opposition to the bill in February.  After much maneuvering, S. 699 above, was enacted into law instead.

Rhode Island – H. 5023 expands district court jurisdiction to enter protective orders to provide for the safety and welfare of household pets in domestic dispute matters.  AKC GR submitted testimony and the Providence County Kennel Club legislative liaison testified in opposition as the family courts are the proper venue for these disputes.  The committee tabled H. 5023 and raised H. 5822, which would require the family court in divorce and separation matters to use child custody dispute criteria to determine the best interests of the pet.  The committee then sent HB 5822 to study, but moved H. 5023 to the Governor’s desk for signature on June 28th.

Rhode Island – H.5436 requires licensure for dog training facilities and with input from affected stakeholders such as AKC, was amended to expressly exclude from licensure government agencies and not for profit organizations engaged in these activities.  The Governor signed this bill on July 15, 2019.

Tennessee – House Bill 233/Senate Bill 222, which penalizes possessing, owning, buying, selling or manufacturing cock fighting paraphernalia with the intent that it be used in promoting, fighting, facilitating, or training for cock fighting, was enacted as Public Chapter 164.  AKC GR requested amendments to the original versions of the legislation, which would have specified as “animal fighting paraphernalia” items such as treadmills and other equipment that are commonly and humanely used by pet owners for purposes of training, providing exercise to, and providing physical therapy to dogs and other animals.  The bill was favorably amended and became law on July 1, 2019.

Tennessee – HB 1190,  a measure supported by AKC GR, establishes processes for landlords to verify the needs of tenants and prospective tenants to have pet policies waived to accommodate a service or support animal and create penalties for misrepresentation of a service animal.  It was enacted as Public Chapter 236 and became law on July 1, 2019.

Wisconsin – SB 30 and AB 29 as introduced would have essentially banned field trials and hunt tests in the state.  The chairmen of the Assembly and Senate Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry Committees have committed to not advance the bill after hearing from the AKC, numerous sportsmen and performance clubs in the state.  AKC GR continues to closely monitor these bills.

Wisconsin –
AB 298 would prohibit anyone from selling, transferring, or offering for sale a dog from a pet store, unless the animal is from a licensed shelter or rescue in the state.  AKC and local clubs are expressing concern with this bill, which is pending in the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.