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Taking Command Newsletter

State Issues July 2021

State Issues: News from the State Capitols 

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

California – AB 468 would further clarify the difference between trained service dogs and emotional support animals, and particularly emphasizes that emotional support animals should not be granted the same privileges and access. The bill is being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, July 12. Read more

Colorado – A proposed 2022 ballot referendum would have amended current animal cruelty laws and no longer allow certain humane animal husbandry practices, including artificial insemination. On June 21, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the referendum violated the state constitution because it contained more than one subject. As such, supporters may no longer collect signatures and the initiative cannot move forward.  Read AKC’s update for more information.

Connecticut – In addition to other helpful provisions, HB 6504 requires a veterinary examination of animals brought into the state by animal shelters. AKC GR issued an alert and testified in support of HB 6504. The House and Senate approved the bill, and it is now Public Act 21-90.

Florida – AKC GR requested amendments to SB 96, a child welfare bill that, among other provisions, requires certain cross-reporting of suspected child abuse, abandonment or neglect, and animal cruelty. As introduced, the bill problematically included a provision that would have changed the definition of “animal husbandry” to exclude care of non-livestock animals. SB 96 was amended, passed in both chambers, and was signed by the Governor and became Public Chapter 2021-170 without the problematic animal husbandry definition.

Florida – SB 388 authorizes emergency transport of and allows a paramedic or EMT to provide emergency medical care to a police canine injured in the line of duty under certain circumstances and when no person requires transport or care at that time. AKC supported the measure, which passed in both chambers, was signed by the Governor, and became Public Chapter 2021-119.

Georgia – SB 303, a problematic dog breeder bill, did not advance during year 1 of the 2021-2022 legislative session. The Georgia Canine Coalition and other groups are working to communicate concerns with the bill and to urge that is not considered in 2022.

Illinois – HB 1711 bans the retail sale of pets in pet stores and prohibits any rescue affiliated with a breeder to source to a pet store. AKC GR and its state federation joined a broad coalition in opposing this bill, which limits pet choice and implies that a rescue is the best place to get a dog. HB 1711 has passed both the House and Senate and has been sent to the governor. Learn more about how to contact the governor and ask for a veto of this legislation.

Louisiana – SB 144, now Act 100, creates the crime of unlawful possession, transfer, or manufacture of animal fighting paraphernalia. AKC GR monitored this positive bill to ensure that it would serve to criminalize possession of animal fighting equipment, while not prohibiting the lawful use of certain equipment, such as treadmills, that are used in humanely training, conditioning, and providing physical therapy to animals.

Louisiana – HB 223 sought to define proper shelter for a dog as an upright, weather resistant structure with three walls, an opening, a roof, and a floor; free of waste and standing water; and of sufficient in size for an animal to stand in an upright position, turn around, and make normal posturing positions. It would exclude animal carriers, plastic crates, and other enclosures designed to provide temporary housing. Advocates sought friendly amendments to also allow for the use of “igloo” style dog houses and other commonly used and appropriate shelters. The bill did not advance during regular session.

Louisiana – HB 231, among other provisions, sought to amend certain provisions under current law that require the disposal of dogs seized in conjunction with an accusation of dog fighting. It would have allowed the appointment of a veterinarian or other suitable custodian to care for and individually assess each dog to determine of the dog is suitable for placement. AKC GR supported HB 231 in principal, but had concerns about specific sections of the bill. It passed in the House with amendments, and did not additionally advance during the regular session.

Louisiana – HB 605, among other provisions, sought to levy sales and use tax on veterinary services and animal boarding services. The bill did not advance during the regular session.

Maine – In contested divorce proceedings involving the disposition of a companion animal, LD 535 would require courts to consider the well-being of the animal and a list of relevant factors, including the ability of a party to financially support the ownership of the animal and provide it adequate care, before awarding ownership. AKC GR expressed no concerns about the bill and the legislature voted to enact it on June 8, 2021.  It became law without the Governor’s signature.

Massachusetts – HB 2547 would authorize the emergency transport and treatment of police K-9s injured in the line of duty. AKC GR urged Massachusetts residents to contact their lawmakers and request that they co-sponsor the bill; and as a result, a significant number of new legislators signed on as co-sponsors. A companion bill, SB 1606, was refiled in the Senate. AKC GR issued an alert noting both bills will be heard by the Joint Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on July 14, 2021.

 Massachusetts – SB 230 and HB 384 are refiled bills that seek to ban the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops unless they are sourced from animal shelters or rescue organizations. Similar to past versions, the proposed animal shelter and rescue definitions are problematic because they exclude rescue activities by breeders. The bills initially were assigned to the Joint Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee for review, which last session redrafted them to create consumer protections irrespective of the source of the pet. The bills have been reassigned to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. AKC GR anticipates public hearings this fall.

Massachusetts – HB 305 was introduced in response to a fatal attack on a 7 month-old puppy at a dog daycare facility. “Ollie’s Law” would establish state licensure for commercial boarding and training kennels and require staff to dog ratios, group sizes and supervision, housing and care conditions, indoor and outdoor physical facility requirements, dog handling, insurance, and fire and emergency plans. In addition, the state would approve required training programs regarding animal behavior, dog body language, and other subjects for employed staff. Injuries to dogs or people would be reported to the state. Other types of kennels (including personal kennels), may be required in the future to also obtain a state license in addition to a municipal kennel license, with the imposition of rules and regulations relating to animal care and health suggested by an advisory committee. Penalties for violations are not specified. AKC GR issued an alert that a public hearing is scheduled for July 12, 2021.

Massachusetts – HB 378 would require anyone who grooms a pet for money to pass approved testing standards and obtain a state grooming license. Grooming facilities would also undergo periodic inspections to ensure compliance with rules and regulations issued. Use of a cage or box dryer would be prohibited. Violations would result in penalties ranging from $100 to $1,000 per offense. A public hearing is scheduled for July 12, 2021, as detailed in AKC GR’s alert.

New Hampshire – AKC GR and NH DOGS testified in support of HB 249, which seeks to authorize animal shelters to own or lease a facility rather than be required to own it. The bill also clarifies which exemptions to health certificate requirements apply to animal shelters, and requires that shelters contact the microchip owner of record before any transfer of the animal. HB 249 passed the House. AKC GR also testified in support of HB 249 before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill passed the Senate, and then the House on June 11. Read more.

New Hampshire – Prior to enactment of a 2019 law, a commercial breeder in the state who transferred fewer than 50 dogs in a year was not required to get municipal zoning authorization as a prerequisite for state licensure. In 2019, legislation was enacted that removed the state’s definition of commercial breeder and classified a person as a pet vendor if they transfer 25 dogs in a 12-month period. The 2019 change required all applicants for a pet vendor license to obtain municipal zoning authorization. As a result of this legislative change, several dog breeders who were previously licensed were not granted municipal zoning authorization and have been unable to obtain the state’s new pet vendor license, which is a violation of their due process rights. HB 250 seeks to address these issues by (1) raising the minimum transfer threshold to 35 dogs, and (2) “grandfathering” those breeders who were not previously required to petition local authorities for authorization before obtaining a state license so they will not need local authorization before applying to operate as a pet vendor. AKC GR and the New Hampshire Dog Owners of the Granite State testified in support of the bill. The House passed the bill, and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee amended it by lowering the dog transfer threshold to 30 and voted it favorably. The bill, as amended, passed in the Senate, and on a voice vote in the House. The Senate changes were accepted by the House on June 10, 2021.

New Hampshire – AKC GR testified in support of HB 338, which seeks to increase the penalty for dog theft and illegally tampering with tracking collars from a misdemeanor to a class B felony. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety released an amended bill that would increase the penalty each time an individual stole a dog, from a criminal misdemeanor up to a class A felony for a third offense. AKC GR and other advocates communicated support for the bill to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which amended the House-passed bill by increasing the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony after two offenses and preserved the penalty for illegally tampering with tracking dog collars. The amended bill passed the Senate on May 13 and the House agreed to the Senate changes on June 10, 2021.

New Hampshire – Two bills containing amended language regarding the creation of a statewide animal records database advanced this session. After AKC GR and NH DOGS expressed concerns about HB 532, a positively amended version of the bill was incorporated into House Budget Bill HB 2. The Senate Finance Committee adopted the amended language in their appropriations bill. The House and Senate conference committee budget bill included the positive text supported by AKC GR and NH DOGS. HB 2, as amended, was signed into law by the Governor on June 25, 2021.

New Hampshire – SB 17 would, among other provisions, authorize municipalities to adopt ordinances permitting dogs outside at brew pubs. AKC supports this provision and submitted testimony to the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. The committee voted to retain the bill for further consideration.

New Hampshire – SB 122 would, among other provisions, increase the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony for a person who injures or kills, or who allows their animal to injure or kill, a working service dog. AKC GR submitted testimony in support of this provision. The Senate Committee on the Judiciary voted favorably to release an amended bill that preserves the language supported by AKC. The bill passed in the Senate and was favorably released by the House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety with changes. A conference committee was unable to resolve differences in bill text before the deadline.

New Jersey – As introduced, AB 1365 would have prohibited the “harassing or taking” of wildlife at competitive events. The intent of similar legislation introduced in other states is to prohibit contests during which the goal is the killing of the most wildlife. However, the original wording of AB 1365 could have impacted clubs offering performance events in New Jersey. The bill was amended in a recent committee hearing to address AKC’s concerns. Read more.

New Jersey – As introduced, A.2401/S.3607 sought to establish new dog-related rules, including overreaching requirements for “large dogs.” AKC opposes the targeting of a specific phenotypic group of dogs for additional regulation.  Read a bill summary and concerns about its impact.  A significantly amended version of A.2401 was adopted by the Assembly Agriculture Committee on June 21.  A floor vote on the bill was scheduled for June 24, but the bill was not considered. Read the most recent information about this legislation.

New Jersey – SB 2868 seeks to establish a courtroom advocates (“lawyers for dogs”) program in the state. The bill features broad language that will likely impact the legal classification of animals in the state. The bill passed the Senate and has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. AKC GR is working with a coalition of interest groups in opposition to SB 2868 as currently written. Read more.

New York – AB 4075/SB 4254 seek to prohibit insurers from refusing to issue, renew or cancel, or raise premiums for homeowner’s insurance based on breed of dog (or mixed-breed) owned by the policyholder. The bill does allow for insurance companies to take these actions if any dog (regardless of breed) has been declared dangerous based on current law, so long as these actions are based on “sound underwriting and actuarial principles” that are reasonably related to actual or anticipated loss. This legislation, supported by the AKC, has passed both the Assembly and the Senate. AKC will be sending information soon on contacting the governor to ask him to sign the legislation into law.

North Carolina  The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board (NCVMB) has indicated the intention to have legislation filed in 2021 to require that third-party breeder services enterprises (e.g. artificial insemination) be operated only by licensed veterinarians. Available proposal language is vague and could restrict responsible breeders from performing or obtaining AIs on their dogs. It would also potentially impact breeders by closing down the three canine reproductive centers in the state that are not veterinarian owned. AKC GR is working with policymakers and impacted stakeholders in response to the NCVMB’s proposal.

Pennsylvania – HB 142 would exempt certain Dog Law revenues from being transferred into a separate account. Since 1988, all fines, fees and costs collected by the Pennsylvania judicial system in excess of the amount collected from same sources during Fiscal Year 1986-87 are deposited into the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account and used to operate the statewide judicial computer system. This includes certain monies that would otherwise be used to fund operations of the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, which ensures the welfare of dogs in commercial breeding kennels, regulates activities pertaining to dogs classified as dangerous, and oversees licensure and rabies vaccinations for dogs, has been operating at a deficit because the licensing fees it receives do not generate enough revenue to fund operations. HB 142 would exempt from transfer approximately $200,000/year in fines, court fees and costs received under the Dog Law. HB 142 passed the House and is now in the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

Pennsylvania – HB 526 / SB 232 are reintroductions of legislation from last session that seek to increase dog license fees to provide additional funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. As proposed, the legislation changes the dog licensing requirement from 12 age weeks to 8 weeks, but eliminates differentiation between intact and spayed/neutered dogs. AKC GR and the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs met with the Bureau director regarding the proposed legislation. AKC GR will continue the monitor these bills.

Pennsylvania – SB 234 seeks to establish a retail pet store ban in favor of showcasing shelter and rescue dogs for adoption. AKC GR met with the Senate staff to discuss the legislation and offer better alternatives than an outright ban. In both the meeting and follow up, AKC GR encouraged the sponsors to introduce enhanced consumer protection legislation that provides consumers with better information and protection from all sources of obtaining dogs, including rescues and shelters which are currently exempt. AKC GR will continue to monitor the bill, which is pending in committee and likely will not be scheduled for a hearing or any committee action in the foreseeable future.

Pennsylvania – AKC GR is working with the sponsor of SB 1267, which seeks to a create a Domestic Animal Board to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based plan for animal welfare laws through collaboration among veterinarians, doctors, state agencies, and concerned legislators. The board will likely include individuals representing various stakeholder organizations and representatives from the PA Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General’s office. AKC GR is working to ensure that appropriate stakeholders and experts will be included. Target date for introduction of the legislation is late June.

Rhode Island – Refiled from 2019, HB 5040 seeks to create a statewide animal cruelty registry. The intent of the bill is that offenders listed on the registry would be prohibited from owning animals because the bill would require all pet sellers and shelters to check the registry before transferring an animal, with significant fines for violations. AKC GR and the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union expressed significant concerns with the bill at a House Judiciary Committee Hearing. AKC noted specific concerns with the ineffectiveness of registries at preventing animal cruelty and the ease at which cruelty violators would be able to evade the registry, and encouraged the committee to consider more effective means. The committee held the bill for further study, and no action was taken before adjournment.

Rhode Island – The House Judiciary Committee considered testimony on HB 5569, which seeks to allow district courts to include pets in temporary protective orders for domestic violence victims. While family courts already have this power, AKC GR submitted testimony in support of this measure to further protect pets from violence in domestic situations. The committee held the bill for further study, and no action was taken before adjournment.

Rhode Island – HB 5577 would authorize court-appointed legal advocates for animals. AKC GR issued an alert and testified in opposition to the bill before the House Judiciary Committee, which retained the bill for further review. The Senate President introduced SB 534 and the Senate Minority Leader introduced SB 601, companion bills to HB 5577. AKC GR developed a fact sheet for constituents and contacted potentially impacted governmental stakeholders, including the Department of Environmental Management, Attorney General, and the Rhode Island Supreme Court. AKC GR, AKC clubs in the state, and the RI ACLU testified in opposition and met with lawmakers and staff. A commitment was made by the Senate President to not move forward with the bills as introduced, and no action was taken before adjournment.

Rhode Island – In marriage dissolution cases, HB 5580 would authorize courts to use the same criteria used in awarding the custody of a child for awarding the possession of a pet. AKC GR submitted written testimony in opposition to courts using criteria governing child custody disputes for animals.  In the final days of the session, AKC GR issued an alert regarding elimination of the word “custody” and use of the words “possession” or “ownership” instead.  The bill sponsor, Representative Charlene Lima, agreed to the changes and an amended bill was adopted in the House on July 1, 2021.  The Senate did not take up the bill before adjournment.

Rhode Island – HB 5617 would place a lifetime ban on the possession of animals by anyone convicted of serious animal cruelty. AKC expressed concerns that the bill could take away an important discretionary tool judges have to obtain agreement by a defendant to engage in mental health counseling to determine whether the conduct was the result of mental illness, and, if so, to order treatment. Moreover, as introduced, the bill did not address how a convicted person would be monitored for compliance for the duration of their lifetime. The House Judiciary Committee has held the bill for further study, and no action was taken before adjournment.

Rhode Island – HB 5736 seeks to ban tethering a dog outside for more than 30 minutes when the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees. Current law provides animal control officers with discretion to address any weather situation where a dog might be at risk of harm. Because adding specific temperatures to the law could diminish protections for a breed that tolerates only moderate temperatures and punish owners of breeds that thrive in lower temperatures, AKC testified in opposition to HB 5736 before the House Judiciary Committee. The committee retained the bill for further study, and no action was taken before adjournment.

Rhode Island – SB 319 would authorize an officer to hold an animal rescued from a motor vehicle for up to 72 hours or until a court arraignment could be scheduled. Additionally, after a hearing, a court could order that the owner permanently surrender physical possession and ownership of the animal. AKC GR submitted written testimony expressing concerns with SB 319’s potentially onerous impacts. No action was taken before adjournment.

Rhode Island – SB 489 establishes a process for animal owners to donate certain unused medications for use by nonprofit state and local facilities. The Governor signed the bill into law on July 3, 2021.

South Carolina  H 3066 seeks to increase penalties for teasing, injuring or killing a police dog or horse. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.

South Carolina  H 3067 seeks to require that any second violation of the Chapter on Cruelty to Animals, which include violations under which no animal is harmed, would require forfeiture of ownership of all animals and a prohibition from owning an animal for five years. H 3067 has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.

South Carolina – H 4094 contains problematic findings and seeks to restrict ownership of and require registration of fertile pit bull dogs with a governmental animal control agency. These requirements would apply to “American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers,” dogs displaying the physical traits of one or more of the listed breeds, or a dog exhibiting the distinguishing characteristics that conform to the standards established by the AKC for any of the breeds. AKC GR issued an alert and sent a letter of concern to subcommittee members. H 4094 appeared on the agenda of the House Special Laws Subcommittee, but was not considered during the 2021 session. It could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.

South Carolina – S 186 would remove certain exemptions for hunting dogs under state cruelty laws while protecting the use of recognized and responsible training techniques and devices. S 186 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.

South Carolina  S 378 would increase penalties for teasing or injuring police dogs and horses, and provide that a person convicted must pay restitution for costs of restoring or replacing a police animal and complete 500 hours of community service. S 378 passed in the Senate and has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.

South Carolina – S 556 seeks to make changes to certain laws that govern trapping in the state. As introduced, this bill could have increased hazards for dogs whose owners participate in field trials, Coonhound events, hunting, and training for these sports, as well as hiking, wilderness camping, and other outdoor activities with dogs. The bill was favorably amended in committee to address certain concerns. It passed in the Senate and was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. Read AKC GR’s alert on S 556 as it was originally introduced. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.

Tennessee – HB 547 / SB 511 would require any person who, during a twelve-month period, possesses or maintains ten or more intact female adult dogs for the primary purpose of selling their offspring as household pets, to register with the Department of Commerce and Insurance. Registrants would be subject to inspections biennially and at the discretion of the commissioner, and rules and fees would be set by the commission. Registrants could not participate in organized or home-based dog rescue activities. SB 511 was sent to “General Sub” in the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee, which means the bill has been put “on hold” and is very unlikely to be considered again in 2021. The Tennessee legislative session lasts two years, and therefore the bills remain active until end of session in 2022. Read AKC GR’s legislative alert on SB 511 and update on the action in committee. AKC GR will continue to monitor these bills.

Tennessee – HB 803 / SB 903, among other provisions, would increase penalties for offenses against more than nine non-livestock animals. This type of legislation is sometimes referred to as “multiple spilled water bowls equal a felony” bills. HB 803 was deferred to the Special Calendar of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. SB 903 has been assigned to the General Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Tennessee legislative session lasts two years, and therefore these bills remain active until end of session in 2022. AKC GR will continue to monitor these bills.

Tennessee – HB 1322 / SB 948 would require law enforcement agencies to annually report statistics and policies regarding police canine units to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) commission and require the POST commission to develop and implement state guidelines for the training, care, and use of police canine units for law enforcement purposes. Action was deferred on these bills until 2022. AKC GR will continue to monitor this legislation.

Wisconsin – AB 276 would allow the state to establish regulations regarding food establishments, so long as no rule bans allowing dogs or cats if the establishment only sells pre-packaged food. A similar bill, SB 298, would also allow regulations regarding food establishments, so long as no rules ban allowing dogs at a retail food establishments that receive no more than 5% of total revenue from food sales. The bills are pending in the Senate Sporting Heritage, Small Business and Rural Affairs Committee. Read more.