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News from the State Capitols

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

Twelve state legislatures and the District of Columbia are currently in session, and three state legislatures are in special session. AKC Government Relations is currently tracking more than 1,429 local, state, and federal issues. The following are highlights of current legislation around the country:

California – AB-781 would require a county to update its emergency plan to designate emergency shelters able to accommodate persons with pets on or before July 1, 2024.  The bill has passed unanimously out of the Assembly and the Senate Governmental Organization Committee and awaits action in the Senate Appropriations Committee. AKC supports this bill.

California – AB-1215 is a positive bill that would set up a program for state administered grants to assist pets of individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness and for domestic violence survivors and their pets when accessing the shelter system. CA AB 1215 passed unanimously out of the Assembly and the Senate Housing Committee. It awaits further action in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

California – AB-742 would prevent the use of police canines for the purpose of arrest, apprehension, or any form of crowd control. AKC recognizes the value of highly trained working K9s for a wide variety of jobs including detection, search and rescue, and other public safety functions. The measure passed two Assembly committees, but did not advance in the full Assembly, and it will not advance this year.

California – AB-554 would clarify animal cruelty enforcement. AKC thanks Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (46th District) and the Assembly Judiciary Committee for the proposed amendment to the bill to ensure Californians’ right to due process is respected. The amended bill passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee. However, due to inaction in the full Assembly, the bill will not advance this year. Read more.

California – SB-89 brings California definitions of stalking to be in line with federal law, including to make harming or killing pets a stalking offense. Although the bill unanimously passed the Senate, the Assembly Public Safety Committee defeated the bill for the year. AKC is working with the bill author’s office and expects the bill to be taken up again in early 2024. AKC supports this bill.

California – AB-1518 seeks to expand on previous bills to increase awareness and education about the value of service dogs. The bill has passed the Assembly Business and Professions Committee but was prevented from advancing by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. AKC looks forward to supporting similar legislation in the future.

Connecticut – HB 6714 would redefine the crime of sexual contact with an animal, require that veterinarians report suspected incidents of animal cruelty, and prohibit persons convicted of animal cruelty or having sexual contact with an animal from possessing or working with animals for a period of five years.  AKC, CFDRDO and veterinarians expressed concern the proposed definition of “sexual contact with an animal” could be interpreted as prohibiting routine canine reproduction procedures, such as artificial insemination. The Judiciary Committee voted favorably on an amended HB 6714 that ensures that bona fide veterinary and animal husbandry purposes would not be inadvertently banned. The bill passed both the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor on June 26 as Public Act No. 23-149.

Delaware – HB 124 would prohibit owners from allowing dogs to bark continuously for more than 15 minutes, or intermittently for more than 30 minutes per day.  After discussions with the sponsor, the bill was amended to exempt dogs engaged in any lawful activity including training, hunting, performance events, etc.  AKC continued to express concerns about the likelihood of neighbor disputes, and the inability of animal control to be able to consider cases on an individual basis.  Further, AKC GR has pointed out that this bill seeks a statewide solution to a local nuisance issue.  HB 124 was ultimately held in the House Appropriations Committee when the session adjourned.

Delaware – SB 71 would require law-enforcement agencies, the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, and the Department of Justice to report suspected animal cruelty to the Office of Animal Welfare that is discovered while performing their responsibilities in child welfare cases. Additionally, this Act also provides immunity to people who, in good faith, report suspected animal cruelty.  AKC GR expressed our concern about the potential misuse of this legislation which could provide an avenue for excessive, frivolous, or even persecutorial reporting – punishing responsible owners.  SB 71 passed both the Senate and the House and was signed by Governor Carney on June 27, 2023.

Florida – HB 719/SB 722 allows certain out-of-state veterinarians to provide specified services under the supervision of a veterinarian licensed in the state. HB 719 was signed by the Governor and took effect July 1, 2023.

Florida – HB 941/SB 942 supported by AKC, removes an exemption from state law that allowed certain local governments to continue banning/restricting dog breeds. It also authorizes public housing authorities to adopt policies related to dogs provided that such requirements are not specific to a dog’s breed, weight, or size. SB 942 was signed by the Governor and takes effect on October 1, 2023.

Florida – HB 1047/SB 1300, supported by AKC, increase protections for police canines, fire canines, search and rescue canines, and police horses. HB 1047 was signed by the Governor as Chapter No. 2023-110 and takes effect October 1, 2023.

Florida HB 7063 among numerous other provisions, establishes sales tax holidays in 2023 for purchases of supplies necessary for the evacuation of household pets. Necessary supplies must be noncommercial purchases, subject to price limitations, which include pet foods, portable kennels/carriers, pet beds, and other items. HB 7063 was signed by the Governor. Applicable dates for this section were May 27, 2023 through June 9, 2023 and will be August 26, 2023 through September 8, 2023.

Georgia – HB 217 is an animal fighting bill that contains potentially problematic prohibitions on possessing, purchasing, or selling “fighting related objects.” AKC and the Georgia Canine Coalition seek clarifying language so that the use of treadmills and other common dog training, conditioning, and physical therapy “objects” cannot be misinterpreted. The bill is assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee and carries over to the 2024 session.

Georgia – HB 573 seeks to restrict sales and transfers of pets on roadsides, parking lots, and certain other public areas. It is assigned to the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and carries over to the 2024 session.

Georgia – SB 142 seeks to problematically expand the definition of “dangerous dog” to include any dog that “demonstrates a propensity for domination or aggressive behavior as indicated by any of the following types of conduct:  (i) Unprovoked barking, when people are present; (ii) Aggressively running along fence lines when people are present; or (iii) Escaping confinement or restraint to chase people.” Among other requirements, the owner of a “dangerous dog” would be required to provide proof of liability insurance in the amount of $500,000 specific to bodily injury or property damage caused by the dog. This overreaching bill has 36 co-sponsors. It is assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee and carries over to the 2024 session.

Illinois – Senate Bill 1499 as introduced would have allowed for a person to face forfeiture of their animals for virtually any violation of state law regarding the care of animals, even without a conviction.  AKC and IFDCO expressed concerns about the one-size-fits-all nature of this punishment which could include minor, correctable infractions that do not rise to the level of a serious offense.  An amendment was added to remove the reference to basic standards of care and only apply this to violations of true cruelty laws.  The bill is pending with the governor.

 Iowa – HF 651 makes several changes to animal control laws, including prohibiting local governments from passing breed-specific laws and clarifying laws regarding at-large dogs.  The bill overwhelmingly passed the House was combined with SF 476.  The bills were ultimately held in the Senate State Government Committee.

Kansas – House Bill 2437 would require cost of care payments for seized animals even for minor violations of the Kansas Pet Animal Act and would have led to loss of ownership of dogs for anyone that could not pay for monthly cost of care within 10 days of receiving a bill even if they were ultimately found not guilty. The bill was heard in the House Agriculture Committee but ultimately died without a vote. AKC submitted opposition to the committee and these efforts contributed to the bill dying in committee.

Louisiana – HB 248 allows the cremated remains of pets to be buried with humans subject to specified requirements. It was signed by the Governor as Act No. 20 and takes effect August 1, 2023.

Louisiana – House Bill 579, relative to pet insurance, provides for definitions, disclosures, policy conditions, certain sales practices, and producer training. This bill, which was monitored by AKC Government Relations, was signed by the Governor, enacted as Act No. 94, and takes effect January 1, 2024.

Maine – LD 1234 would require  the Department of Public Safety to reimburse authorized handlers of retired law enforcement dogs that were used in service by the State Police up to $5,000 per year for health care expenses of their dogs. AKC supported the bill, which was approved by the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety as amended to cover all retired law enforcement K9s. In June the expanded bill quickly passed the House and Senate before being sent on June 14 to the special appropriations table for funding consideration in the state’s emergency budget LD 258. It was not included in the committee’s amended budget.

Maine – LD 598 would make it a civil violation for an operator of a motor vehicle to fail to report an accident with a cat, a dog or livestock to a law enforcement officer or to the owner of the animal by the quickest means available. A violation after 3 or more violations within the previous 5-year period would amount to a Class E crime. The Transportation Committee released the bill favorably as amended to define an accident as “death of an animal or damage to real or personal property” and the House passed it on June 6 and the Senate voted it favorably on June 12. It became Public Act, Chapter 302 without the Governor’s signature on June 25.

Massachusetts – SB 1056 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.  AKC opposes the measure as introduced. Read more.

Massachusetts – In response to dog injuries and deaths at dog day care facilities, HB 2019 and SB 1309 have been re-filed as “Ollie’s Law” and would impose requirements such as staffing ratios for boarding, training, dog day care, breeding and personal kennels. They also would create a new definition for “personal breeder kennel” as anyone with more than 4 intact female dogs who transfers any offspring. Personal breeder kennels and commercial breeder kennels would be held to the same future regulations. They have been referred to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and a public hearing has been tentatively scheduled for September 12.

Massachusetts – HB 314 would provide consumer protections at dog day care businesses and is supported by multiple animal welfare organizations, including AKC. It has been referred to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and a public hearing has been tentatively scheduled for September 12.

Massachusetts – SB 1311 would eliminate from current law text that exempts from pet shop licensure any person selling, exchanging or otherwise transferring the offspring of their personally owned animals. It has been referred to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and a public hearing has been tentatively scheduled for September 12.

Massachusetts – SB 876/HB 1367 would prohibit housing authorities and certain housing agreements from discriminating against tenants based upon the size, weight or breed of dog owned. They also prohibit insurance companies from discriminating based upon dog breed and have been referred to the Joint Committee on Housing.

New Hampshire – SB 268 would allow for pre-hospital treatment and transportation for police canines injured in the line of duty. AKC and many others testified in support of the bill throughout the process. An amended version passed the House on May 4 and the Senate concurred with the amended bill on June 1. It is on its way to the Governor. Learn more in this update.

New Hampshire – HB 249 would establish regulatory standards for the pet insurance industry. The House Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs held a hearing on an amendment to allow restaurant owners to keep their dog on the premises. The bill is on its way 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.

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 – Assembly Bill 2354 and Senate Bill 981 seek 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. S.981 was approved unamended by the Senate in March 2022.  One year later, the Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee separately amended the bills prior to being passed by the full Assembly.  S.9891 awaits action by Governor Murphy.  AKC continues to strongly oppose S.981 due to ongoing constitutional concerns and the lack of protections for non-possessory co-owners.

New Jersey – Senate Bill 1803 seeks to prohibit declawing procedures from being performed on cats and other animals unless deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose by a licensed veterinarian.  AKC opposes this measure because it may prohibit common and accepted animal husbandry practices from being performed on dogs.  The bill was approved by the Senate Economic Growth Committee, and has been rereferred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

 New Mexico – Senate Bill 429 would have created arbitrary limits on the length of time a dog could be tethered. The bill initially would have prevented tethering dogs for longer than 3 hours and would have impacted AKC events. The bill was amended to exempt tethering at dog events, but concerns remained. AKC requested additional amendments to protect responsible dog owners. The bill passed one Senate committee but ultimately died without a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. AKC secured an amendment to protect dog sports and urged additional amendments. Ultimately the bill was not amended to address all of AKC’s concerns and AKC continued to oppose the bill until failure.

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 did not receive a hearing prior to the end of session, but could be considered in 2024.

New York – A. 1149/S. 4163 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 remain pending in their respective Insurance Committees and could be considered in 2024.

New York – A. 3976 and S. 4084 would allow for both compensatory and punitive damages for the wrongful injury or death of an animal.  AKC GR opposes these bills, which remain pending in their respective Judiciary Committees and could be considered in 2024.

New York – S. 142 would ban debarking in the state unless necessary to alleviate an illness or injury.  AKC GR expressed concerns with this bill, which has passed the Senate and was ultimately held in the Assembly Agriculture Committee.  It will be able to be reconsidered in 2024.

New York – S. 4099/A. 2917 makes certain hunting competitions illegal.  As written, however, both bills contain important amendments requested by the AKC to protect training and performance events. The bills have passed the legislature and will soon be sent to the governor for consideration.  Read more.

Oklahoma – House Bill 2059 will lessen the reporting burden for state licensed dog breeders. Previous law required a yearly application and a yearly report on the number of dogs possessed but this bill removes the reporting requirement. The bill was signed by the Governor and immediately went into effect. AKC supported the bill throughout the legislative process to lessen the burden on licensed breeders.

Oregon  SB-696 appropriates money to the Department of Justice out of General Fund to fund animal cruelty focused attorneys within the department’s Criminal Justice Division. Although the bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it will not advance this year.

Oregon – HB-2915 would end the sale of dogs and cats while exempting stores that currently sell such pets until September 1, 2028. The bill has passed out of the House and the Senate; it awaits a decision by the governor. AKC has concerns over the erosion of consumer protections with the limitation of pet store sales of dogs and cats.

Oregon  HB-3571 establishes immunity from prosecution for theft and civil liability for nonprofit animal rescue entity that takes possession of, keeps and disposes of a cat or dog if the person who transfers the cat or dog to the animal holding agency believes the cat or dog to be lost, stray or abandoned. The bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee (with proposed amendments) but will not advance this year. AKC continues to monitor this issue.

Pennsylvania – SB 746 and its companion HB 1322 seek to update the Commonwealth’s Dog Law.  Even though AKC participated in a stakeholder meeting ahead of the formal introduction, both bills contained language not included in the stakeholders’ agreed to draft that removed an existing provision providing an exemption from licensing and health certification requirements for dogs entering the Commonwealth temporarily to participate in dog events. Further, the legislation changed the provision of a veterinarian issued health certificate to an interstate certification of veterinarian inspection.  AKC GR was successful in securing an amendment to reinstate this important exemption.  SB 746 passed the Senate and currently sits in the House Appropriations Committee.  The General Assembly has recessed for the summer.

Pennsylvania – SB 785 establishes a new Animal Welfare Board empowered to review existing laws and regulations related to the keeping and handling of animals and make recommendations for changes.  Unlike a short-focused Task Force, this Board would continue until such a time that legislation was passed to eliminate it, thereby, allowing it to provide review and recommendation to any law or regulation established going forward.  During the development of the legislation, AKC GR and a representative of the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs had conversations with the sponsor to confirm representation by the American Kennel Club, the state federation, a breeder, and sportsmen.  The bill was assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on June 14, 2023.

 Rhode Island – HB 5918 is a refiled measure that would create an ownership procedure for pets in divorce and separation proceedings based on the best interests of the animal. This act would not apply to assistance/service animals. AKC worked with the bill sponsor to substitute “ownership” for the word “custody” and submitted House Judiciary Committee testimony consistent with that request for the March 22 public hearing.It was being held in study when the session adjourned.

Rhode Island – HB 5864 would define and prohibit “captive hunting” for domestic or wild animals in enclosed areas.  AKC is working with the bill proponent to clarify the text and ensure no negative consequences for legal field trial activities.  The committee released the bill to the June 7 House calendar where it passed without the requested change. The Senate filed a mirror bill, SB 607, that had a public hearing on May 17. AKC submitted testimony requesting the same clarifying amendment. No further action occurred before the session adjourned.

Rhode Island – HB 5114 would permit the family court to award custody of household pets to the plaintiff in a domestic abuse complaint, including the enforcement remedy of a restraining order or other injunctive relief. AKC expressed concerns about using the legal term “custody”, given the three types of child custody at the February 14 hearing. It was being held in study when the session adjourned.

Rhode Island – HB 5207 is a re-filed bill that would establish an animal abuser registry and require pet sellers to check the registry before transferring an animal to avoid fines.  Everyone can agree that animals deserve a life in a safe, caring, and healthy environment. However, registries can be easily evaded and no evidence suggests they are effective at reducing the rate of subsequent offenses.  AKC believes a better use of the State’s resources would be to focus on and utilize enforcement activities that are proven effective and provided this testimony on February 14 before the House Judiciary Committee with other stakeholders. It was being held in study when the session adjourned.

Rhode Island – Elimination of the sales tax for taxi and pet services, such as grooming and boarding, would occur if SB 83 were enacted. AKC supports the bill, and it was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. No further action occurred before the session adjourned. 

South Carolina – H 3238, among other provisions, seeks to require a person, on a second conviction for animal cruelty offenses, to forfeit all animals and to not own an animal for up to five years, regardless of the nature or severity of the offense. The AKC supports full enforcement of fair and reasonable animal cruelty laws and appropriate penalties for abusers; however, scope of H.3238 is overreaching. It is referred to the House Committee on Judiciary, and carries over to year 2 of the 2023-2024 session.

South Carolina – H 3682 and similar S 456 seek to eliminate necessary protections under current law regarding the award of costs of care for a confiscated animal. H 3682 was minimally amended and passed in the House. The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources positively amended H 3682; however, significant concerns remain with the bill as last amended. H 3682 is pending a second vote in the Senate. These bills carry over to year 2 of the 2023-2024 session. View AKC’s most recent alert on S 456.

South Carolina – H 3247, a bill supported by AKC, seeks to increase penalties for maltreating a police K9. It is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. It carries over to year 2 of the 2023-2024 session.

Tennessee – HB 467/SB 568, pursuant to a divorce, annulment, or alimony action, would allow a court to provide for the ownership or joint ownership of any pet or companion animal owned by the parties, taking into consideration the well-being of the animal. HB 467 failed in the Children & Family Affairs Subcommittee of House Civil Justice Committee. SB 568 passed in the Senate. These bills carry over to year 2 of the 2023-2024 session.

Tennessee – HB 991/SB 836 seek to prohibit an insurer of homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, or insurance that covers a manufactured or mobile home from making certain changes to or refusing to issue a policy based solely on the specific breed or mixture of breeds of a dog that lives or is cared for on the property. AKC supports breed-neutral legislation. HB 991 is assigned to the House Insurance Subcommittee. SB 836 is assigned to the General Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. These bills carry over to year 2 of the 2023-2024 session.

 Tennessee – HB 1320/SB 835 seek to criminalize restraining a dog with a chain, cord, tether, cable, or similar device under certain weather forecasts and during evacuation orders. A person would not be subject to prosecution unless the person previously received a warning citation. The bills do not consider that forecasted conditions may not occur where the dog is kept, or that tethers can be used to safely restrain a dog prior to or during an evacuation. HB 1320 is referred to the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. SB 835 was referred back to the General Subcommittee of Senate Judiciary Committee. Both bills carry over to 2024. View AKC’s most recent alert on these bills. 

Texas – Senate Bill 876 changes the definition of a dog and cat breeder to now require licensure and inspections for anyone that both owns 5 intact females and engages in the business of breeding those dogs for sale. Governor Abbott signed SB 876 into law last week. AKC opposed the bill for the last several months by meeting with lawmakers, sending letters and testifying in committees and was successful in securing an amendment to exempt those that breed for conformation purposes from the law.  This exemption however failed to address several of AKC’s concerns with the law. It remains unclear how the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation will interpret the law and AKC hopes for further clarifications through the regulatory process.

Texas – House bill 3587 would have required mandatory spay and neuter for any at large dog that was caught by a releasing agency for a second time in the dog’s lifetime. AKC opposed this legislation from its introduction date. Spaying/neutering decisions should be made by a dog’s owner in conjunction with their veterinarian. AKC reached out to the sponsor in early 2023 to express our opposition to the bill and it ultimately never received a hearing.

Texas – House Bill 66 would have required anyone that housed 3 or more dogs to install fire sprinklers and retain 24-hour employees. AKC expressed concerns to the HB 66 bill sponsor and ultimately House Bill 2063 was filed with positive amendments. HB 2063 requires kennel facility operators (those who are providing boarding services for breeding, sheltering, training, hunting, “or similar purposes” for more than three dogs for compensation) to provide written notice to dog and cat owners if their pet will be left unattended and without a fire sprinkler system. AKC appreciates the sponsor’s willingness to work with us to address our concerns while still accomplishing the legislature’s primary goal to protect dogs during boarding. The bill became law and will go into effect on September 1, 2023.

 Texas – House Bill 4759 makes changes to the Texas dangerous dog laws by expanding the law to deem a dog dangerous if it causes bodily injury. If a dog is deemed dangerous and causes bodily injury it would be a class B misdemeanor. AKC is concerned with the definition of bodily injury because of its broad use of the term physical pain. AKC expressed concerns that a playful animal could be deemed dangerous if it unintentionally caused physical pain to a person. AKC reached out the bill sponsor to clarify her intention with the bill and she committed to changes to the law if it is unfairly applied. The bill failed after Governor Abbott vetoed it last month.

Texas – House Bill 3756 offered liability protections for individuals who remove a domestic animal from a motor vehicle if the person had a good faith and reasonable belief that such removal is necessary to avoid imminent harm to the animal.  The American Kennel Club (AKC) expressed concerns that without some clarifications, HB 3756 could lead to negative unintended consequences. AKC believes “Good Samaritan” legislation should provide a balanced approach that protects both the health and safety of dogs and the interests of responsible dog owners. The bill failed in the Texas Senate after passing the House.

 Texas – House Bill 4164 makes it a misdemeanor to misrepresent a service animal. AKC supported HB 4164 and strongly condemns characterizing dogs as service animals when they are not, or attempting to benefit from a dog’s service dog status when the person does not have a disability or need for a service animal. House Bill 4164 would penalize those who knowingly misrepresent a service animal in order to gain rights or privileges reserved for those with true service animals. This law goes into effect on September 1, 2023.