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News from the State Capitols

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

California – AB 1881 as introduced established a “Dog and Cat Bill of Rights”.  While the bill only required that the list be posted at shelters and rescues, AKC joined many organizations in expressing significant concerns about putting “rights” of animals in law and the implications this has for changing the legal status of animals in the state.  The Assembly Business and Professions Committee amended the bill on April 26 to remove all references to the word “rights” in the actual code text. Instead, while the author may call it the “dog and cat bill of rights”, the actual chapter will now be called “Dog and Cat Welfare”.  The amendments also clarify that the purpose is solely for education. AB 1881, as amended, passed the Assembly and passed the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development and Senate Judiciary Committees. It was re-assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it will likely have a hearing on August 1.

California – AB 1901 as introduced would have regulated all trainers in the state as boarding kennels, regardless of whether dogs are kept overnight.  AKC, dog trainers, clubs, and many others expressed opposition to this proposal and worked to educate the committee and author of the many problems should this bill pass.  As such, the author agreed to remove all the requirements and instead require certain disclosures when a trainer starts with a new client. This includes providing the goals of the class, training philosophy, and whether or not the trainer is certified. It does not mandate that a trainer be certified in order to teach classes. The bill passed the Assembly and two Senate committees.  It was assigned to Senate third reading on June 30, meaning it can be scheduled for a full Senate vote when they return on August 1.

California – AB 1781 would regulate shelters and rescues transporting animals. It would require them to ensure that transport vehicles protect a dog’s health and safety.  This bill was signed by the governor on July 1.

California  AB 2723 would amend current law regarding microchipping when a dog is adopted from a local shelter.  As amended by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, when a shelter or rescue transfers ownership of a dog, they must provide information including microchip company information, if the dog has a current microchip number, and any other information needed so the new owner can register themselves as the primary contact on the microchip.  In addition, before transferring or selling a dog, the shelter or rescue much document and keep records of all efforts made to contact the microchip’s primary contact, if the dog is microchipped. The bill passed the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee on June 13 and is pending a vote by the full Senate.

California  AB 2380 would prohibit a person from obtaining a loan in order to purchase a dog or cat if the loan is offered, arranged, or facilitated by a merchant or retailer. The bill passed the Assembly and the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee. It has been reassigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it will likely be considered on August 1.

 California  SB 971 as amended requires that public housing financed by the state allow residents to own or maintain “common household pets”. A refundable deposit may be required, but landlords may not require a monthly fee to keep the animal. Considerations may be made to limit the number of animals based on the unit’s size and prohibitions on potentially dangerous or vicious dogs. The landlord may not place restrictions based on an animal’s size or weight, but may have leashing, nuisance or liability insurance requirements. The bill has passed the Senate and the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development. It has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where it will likely be considered on August 1

Connecticut – HB 5295 was signed into law on May 10 as Public Act 22-54. It establishes a working group to examine the development of a statewide dog license portal.  The group began meeting on June 16 and the Connecticut Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners’ President is participating along with AKC GR.

Delaware – Senate Bill 258 as introduced would have provided for damages of up to $15,000 in veterinary bills for injuries to a pet, the fair market value of a deceased pet, and up to $15,000 for emotional trauma (non-economic damages) suffered by the pet’s owner. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill on May 4 and the sponsor, Senator Ernesto Lopez, requested that the bill be passed out so further discussions with stakeholders could be held. The Committee did not move the bill.  Instead, Senator Lopez offered a substitute version that removed the non-economic damages language as well as the dollar limit recoverable for compensatory damages. The substitute version was approved by the Committee and approved by the full Senate on May 19, 2022.  It was amended and passed by the House on June 16, 2022 to add a sunset provision that provides that the Act expires 3 years after its enactment.  The Senate agreed to the House amendment on June 17, 2022. The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Massachusetts – Despite AKC GR testimony in opposition to SB 1322, the bill has been released favorably again this session from the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government and sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The bill would create uniform standards regulating dog daycare facilities, boarding kennels and training operations while restricting personal kennels by authorizing municipal animal control officers to determine how many dogs or cats an individual can own after an inspection of their premises upon kennel license application. State regulations would also determine responsible breeding practices. Because legislation regulating dog daycare facilities did not survive the committee process, advocates are aggressively pursuing SB 1322 passage. AKC GR is working with specific stakeholders to ensure collective concerns are addressed prior to movement and an alert was issued on June 10.

Massachusetts – On July 11, the Massachusetts Senate suspended its rules and approved Senate Bill 2994 (which was previously SB 1322, opposed by AKC).  The bill originally sought to address injuries and deaths at dog daycare facilities, but would have negatively impacted individual dog owners, as it included restrictions on the right to own and keep dogs; and made broad, significant changes to state law that would result in duplicative license requirements. Senate Bill 2994 also removes protections in current law for owners of personal kennels.   As such, most owners of personal kennels would be subject to municipal licensing and regulations, including inspections of home-based kennels.  The bill also removes the recognition in current law of keeping dogs for personal, non-commercial use.  AKC GR issued an alert urging residents to contact the House of Representatives to express opposition.   

Massachusetts  SB 2397 would prohibit the misrepresentation of a service animal. AKC GR submitted testimony in support to the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs for the public hearing. The bill was reported favorably by committee and referred to the committee on Senate Ways and Means.

Massachusetts  The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture heard testimony on three bills to protect research animals, allowing adoption after health examination upon retiring from research activities. AKC GR supported HB 901 and HB 966, but noted that definitions for animal shelter and rescue in the bill were inconsistent with current law. The committee advanced the bill favorably. HB 901 passed the House and has been sent to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration. 

Massachusetts SB 551 would create an advisory board, with a shelter and rescue coordinator serving as chair, to oversee various functions of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. AKC GR expressed concerns to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, noting that a formal advisory board with permanent members chaired by a shelter and rescue coordinator is not necessary for the state agency to function effectively. The bill advanced favorably from committee and is in the Senate Rules Committee waiting for placement on the Senate calendar. 

Massachusetts  SB 2672 was released favorably by the Joint Judiciary Committee as a re-write of nine bills. AKC GR issued an alert summarizing before testifying at the May 19, 2021, public hearing.  The bill would insert domestic animals and livestock into the civil fine structure for lack of adequate shelter or sanitation for dogs. Civil fines collected would be forwarded to the Homeless Fund that provides money for ACO training and the state spay/neuter program. It also provides the court with great latitude in deciding how long the offender will be prohibited from owning animals, including exceptions if an offender can prove they are capable of caring for animals or have sought required counseling.  AKC GR is monitoring this bill. 

Michigan – House Bills 4703 and 4704 address the issue of animals being seized, and the payment of their care during impoundment. As introduced, the bills amend current law and clarify that the owner or possessor may request a hearing within 14 days to determine if the requirement to pay is justified and the cost is fair and reasonable. AKC issued an alert and drafted a letter to the committee expressing concerns with the underlying law. Numerous amendments were adopted by the House, including allowing the court to consider the ability of the defendant to pay and ensuring that if the owner is found not guilty, then the animals must be returned. However, it is unclear if this provision applies if a payment is missed during the trial. The bills passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 14 and are pending consideration by the full Senate.

New Hampshire  Representative Gallagher reached out to AKC GR for assistance with his bill, HB 1186.  It would mandate that emergency shelters allow individuals to relocate with their companion animals when ordered to evacuate. Per NH’s Disaster Animal Response Team, four emergency trailers across the state can be deployed, but significant gaps in the emergency response plan exist. AKC GR testified in support of the bill’s intent and worked with the committee on an appropriate amendment to require emergency shelters make space for trailers or other pet accommodations on site.  HB 1186, as amended, has passed the House and Senate. AKC GR submitted a letter of support to the Governor. 

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 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 on May 26, 2022.  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 – Despite some last-minute procedural moves by the Senate, the Assembly did not consider Senate Bill 9445 or Senate Bill 1125, which would have banned the procedure known as “debarking” or bark softening.  AKC opposed these bills, which restricted the rights of responsible dog owners to make viable, safe decisions on behalf of their pets in conjunction with their veterinarian.

New York – A. 5746 seeks to prohibit “killing contests”.  As written, it contains exemptions requested by the AKC for canine performance events and training.  The bill passed the Assembly Codes Committee but was ultimately held on the Assembly floor.

New York  A. 6246/S. 6870 further regulate animal shelters, including licensing, inspections, and standards of care for animals.  They also mandate a 48 hour quarantine for all dogs imported into the state for sale, as well as a rabies vaccination for all dogs over three months of age.  Dogs temporarily in the state for exhibition are exempt, so long as they are under the control of their owner or handler and have proof of rabies vaccination.  The bills have passed the Senate and Assembly and will soon be transmitted to the governor.

New York – Senate Bill 8973/Assembly Bill 9296 clarify laws requiring animal control and police officers to seize dogs not on the owner’s property and are not identified or licensed, or pose a threat to public safety.  These bills would allow the officer to return any dog with a current license to the owner if there is no probable cause that the dog is dangerous.  The dog may be returned to the owner of record at the address provided on the license.  The bills have passed the Assembly and Senate.

Oregon – Gun control advocates have likely collected enough signatures to place a measure on the November 2022 ballot that will require significant registration, background checks, training requirements and other measures to purchase and own firearms, and restrict ownership of firearms with more than 10 rounds of ammunition.  AKC is in communication with numerous sportsmen groups and is doing a thorough analysis to determine the impact this could have on performance events and will provide updates as soon as they are available.

Oregon – Animal rights activists have been collecting signatures to put a measure on the November 2022 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 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.  Read more. 

Pennsylvania – House Bill 2047 will enhance the punishments for breeders who abuse animals and make it more difficult for them to game the system when they lose their licenses.  The bill would change the first violation for the mistreatment of dogs under their care from a summary offense to a misdemeanor. The maximum fine would also double. Additionally, the legislation would prevent any immediate family member of the offender from obtaining a license as well as anyone who resides at the same residence.  The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.  AKC GR will continue to monitor the bill, which is not scheduled for a hearing. 

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 the same sources during Fiscal Year 1986-87 are deposited into the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account. 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 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 was recently contacted regarding alternate language for the licensing requirement and recommended that it be kept at the current three months of age or older or upon transfer to a new owner, whichever comes first.  Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement and the bill sponsors have indicated that they agree to the change.  Both bills are in their respective chamber’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.  AKC GR will continue the monitor these bills.  Much of the content of these bills are included in SB 1289. 

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 irrespective of the source of 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  SB 907 would establish the Animal Welfare Board to review existing state laws and regulations related to the keeping and handling of animals. The Board is to be comprised of individuals representing various stakeholder organizations and representatives from the PA Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General’s office.  Due to several meetings and conversations with the sponsor’s office, the board will also include a representative from the American Kennel Club, the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, and Northeast Beagle Gundog Federation.  The bill passed the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee in April and was recently referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.  The bill passed the Senate on June 20 and has been referred to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. Read more.

PennsylvaniaSB 1289 is entitled the “Dog Law Modernization Act”.  This bill removes the increased license fees for intact animals and also updates kennel licensing and dangerous dog laws.  In addition, rescues will have an increased license fee based on the number of dogs in their network in the state, as well as reporting and other requirements.  AKC GR has had numerous discussions with the sponsor’s office and the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement regarding the language to ensure it is as fair and reasonable as possible.  The bill passed the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on June 22 and is pending consideration by the full Senate.  Read more about this bill.  

Rhode Island – S. 2443 would authorize forfeiture of any animal seized by the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) if the defendant is found guilty and fails to reimburse RISPCA within 30 days for the boarding and care of animals held pending court proceedings.  AKC GR issued an alert noting the lack of protections for one who is found innocent and testified on April 27 before the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture requesting amendments.  The committee proposed and adopted an amended S. 2443 responding to AKC concerns and the Senate passed the amended bill on May 17. An identical companion bill was then filed in the House as H. 8303 and considered by the House Judiciary Committee on June 7.  Both bills were voted favorably and sent to the Governor for consideration on June 23, 2022.

Rhode Island   H. 7021 would authorize the emergency treatment and transport of a police K9 injured in the line of duty.  AKC GR supports this bill.  AKC GR issued an alert requesting support before the public hearing by the House Health and Human Services Committee.  The committee added stakeholders to assist with establishing policies and procedures and passed H. 7021 as amended.  AKC GR issued an alert in support and the bill passed the House on May 3, 2022. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on June 2, AKC submitted supportive testimony and an identical companion bill was then filed as S.3019 for consideration on June 16.  On June 23, both chambers voted these bills favorably and they were transmitted to the Governor for consideration.

South Carolina  H 3067 sought to require that any second violation of the Chapter on Cruelty to Animals, which included violations under which no animal is harmed, would have required forfeiture of ownership of all animals and a prohibition from owning an animal for five years. The bill failed sine die.

South Carolina  S 186 would have removed certain exemptions for hunting dogs under state cruelty laws while protecting the use of recognized and responsible training techniques and devices. The bill failed sine die.

 South Carolina  S 378 would have increased penalties for teasing or injuring police dogs and horses, and provided that a person convicted must pay restitution for costs of restoring or replacing a police animal and complete 500 hours of community service. This bill, which was supported by AKC, passed in the Senate, but failed sine die in the House Judiciary Committee.

South Carolina  S 556 sought 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 where it failed sine die. Read AKC GR’s alert on S 556 as it was originally introduced.