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Taking Command Newsletter

State Issues June 2020

State Issues: News from the State Capitols

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

Alabama – HB 209 sought to authorize food service establishments to allow pet dogs in outdoor restaurant seating areas if the company wishes to do so.  It would have required that the dog be leashed or in a pet carrier and under control, and sets out access, sanitation, and other requirements. HB 209 passed in the House, but did not receive hearing in the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs prior to adjournment of the 2020 session. Read AKC’s alert in support of this bill.

Alabama – SB 67 sought to prohibit leaving a pet in a motor vehicle unattended in a manner that creates unreasonable risk of harm to the animal, set out processes for notifying a public safety official and for removing and securing the animal, provide criminal immunity for a person who removes an animal, and provide immunity from criminal and civil liability to the owner should the dog removed from a vehicle bite or injure a person during the course of the rescue effort.  SB 67 passed in the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee, but did not continue to advance prior to adjournment of the 2020 session.

Alabama – SB 196 would have brought animal enterprises and working animals under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Agriculture and Industries. It would have provided specific protections for the use of working animals in commerce, service, therapy, farming, law enforcement, search and rescue, competitive sports, and other uses. It would have established authority and procedures for the investigation of animal cruelty and set out specific criteria for the impoundment of animals when cruelty is alleged. It also would have provided a mechanism for the department and animal control agencies to address factually unfounded complaints by making it an offense to submit a frivolous animal cruelty complaint against an animal enterprise. SB 196 was reported favorably by the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, but did not continue to advance prior to adjournment of the 2020 session. Read the alert.

California – AB 2152 establishes a total ban on the sale of dogs and cats by pet stores.  It allows for space to be provided to only showcase animals for adoption from a public animal control agency or shelter, or a rescue.  Rescues permitted to showcase animals at pet stores must be 501(c)(3) and not breed animals, obtain animals from a breeder or broker, have any personnel in common with a breeder, or be on the same premises as a breeder. In addition, the rescue may not facilitate sales of animals obtained from a breeder.  Finally, all animals must be sterilized, and the adoption fees may not exceed $500. There is a concern that the bill implies that breeders should not be involved in rescue work.  AKC GR is asking that an amendment be considered which would still ensure those who are falsely operating as a rescue cannot source to pet stores, but remove the implication against reputable breeders and AKC clubs involved in legitimate rescue activities. This bill passed the Assembly on June 10 and is awaiting assignment to a Committee in the Senate.  AKC will continue to closely monitor the bill.

California – AB 1850 is one of many bills that seeks to amend AB 5 which codifies the decision of the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles (2018) that presumes a worker is an employee unless a hiring entity satisfies a three-factor test known as the ABC test, and exempts from the test certain professions and business to business relationships.  While it remains open to interpretation if judges for a variety of events, competitions and trials, including AKC events, are exempt under AB 5, AB 1850 includes a clear exemption for A competition judge with a specialized skillset or expertise providing services that require the exercise of discretion and independent judgment to an organization for the purposes of determining the outcome of a competition.  AKC GR sent a letter in support of the amendment and also issued an informational alert. This bill passed the Assembly on June 10 and is now awaiting assignment to a Committee in the Senate.  AKC will continue to closely monitor the bill.  AKC will continue to closely monitor the bill.

California – SB 1041 seeks to ban hunting deer with dogs in the state.  This is a follow-up to a bill passed in 2019 that banned bobcat hunting in the state.  Supporters are spreading much information about hunting, including stating that a dog running through the woods during hunting activities will cause irreparable harm to any wildlife the dog encounters.  AKC expressed concerns with this bill, which is another attempt to limit a dog’s ability to do what it was bred to do.  The bill was scheduled for a hearing on April 14, but the legislature recessed prior to the hearing due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Now that the legislature as returned, AKC was informed by the sponsor that this bill will not likely move forward this year.

California – AB 2059 is labeled “Protection from Unnecessary Testing Act” and will prohibit animal testing, except under certain conditions. Conducting testing outside the limitations of this bill would become a criminal act.  This bill is currently in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations with no hearing date set.

Colorado – Senate Bill 20-104 would expand the powers of the state’s Bureau of Animal Protection agents. This includes granting agents who have completed training the power to conduct investigations.  Concerns among others that have been raised include who may be appointed as agents and therefore be given these expanded powers. An amendment supported by AKC’s federation was added by the Senate to clarify that agents may only be employees of the state or a municipality/county in Colorado, or a Colorado-based non-profit or municipal corporation.  This compromise amendment will ensure that no out-of-state group may be employed as an animal protection agent in Colorado.  The bill is pending final approval by the Senate.  Read more.

Connecticut – The state department of agriculture publicly released notice of draft regulations overseeing animal importers and shelters.  AKC GR reviewed the proposal and issued an alert encouraging the individual submission of recommendations for strengthening the proposed rules. The deadline for submitting comments is June 16, 2020 and AKC GR will submit formal comment.

Florida – HB 241 / SB 1082 authorizes a court issuing a domestic violence injunction to award to the petitioner the exclusive care, possession, or control of an animal, except an animal owned primarily for a bona fide agricultural purpose; order the respondent to have no contact with the animal; and enjoin the respondent from taking, transferring, harming, or disposing of the animal. AKC GR monitored this bill, which has passed in the Senate and House and has been presented to the Governor.  Read the alert.

FloridaHB 1193 includes a provision that empowers employees, agents, or contractors of animal shelters, humane organizations, or animal control agencies to implant dogs and cats with microchips. AKC GR recommended that this provision be amended to require that a microchip may be implanted by a person who is not a licensed veterinarian only after the dog or cat has been thoroughly scanned for an existing microchip. HB 1193 has passed in the House and Senate without this recommended amendment.

Florida SB 1084 would prohibit discrimination in housing provided to a person with a disability or a disability-related need for an emotional support animal, prohibit a health care practitioner from providing information regarding a person’s need for an emotional support animal without having personal knowledge of that person’s need for the animal, and prohibit the falsification of information or other fraudulent misrepresentation regarding the use of an emotional support animal.  SB 1084 has passed in the Senate and House.  

Georgia – HB 886 would create a state microchip database and require veterinarians who provide treatment to pets to scan for microchips. If a microchip is identified and a review of the database suggests that the person who presented the pet for treatment or on whose behalf the pet was presented for treatment is not the rightful owner, the licensed veterinarian shall report that information to the law enforcement agency or animal control officer within the jurisdiction where the veterinary facility is located. HB 886 has passed in the House.

GeorgiaHB 999 would recognize the benefits and contributions of purebred dogs; recognizes the dedicated individuals in Georgia who breed dogs to devlop unique, predictable characteristics that enable dogs to excel in a wide range of beneficial areas, and would designate May 1 as Purebred Dog Day on an ongoing basis. HB 999 passed in the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.  

Georgia – SB 338, among other provisions, would increase the maximum pet dealer (breeder) license fee to $800 per year, require an applicant to provide a current criminal background check, and require licensed pet dealers and shelters to post surety with the state.  As introduced, the bill would have lowered the threshold for breeder licensure; however, the Georgia Canine Coalition worked on amendment that include maintaining current licensing thresholds, which was adopted by the Senate. Read the alert, which was issued prior to the amendment. SB 338 passed in the Senate and has been assigned to the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. 

HawaiiHB 2163 seeks to limit the practices of surgical births, debarking, tail docking, and ear cropping by prohibiting an animal’s owner, and the owner’s employees, from performing these procedures.  This bill was removed from the February 5 meeting agenda of the House Agriculture Committee and has not been rescheduled for consideration.  The Hawaii State Legislature is expected to reconvene on June 22, 2020.

Hawaii – SB 677 seeks to further restrict tethering practices.  The bill was scheduled for decision making on Wednesday, March 18, but was deleted from the meeting schedule and has not been rescheduled for consideration.  AKC continues to monitor the Hawaii State Legislature for developments on this bill. 

Iowa – House File 737 as introduced as HSB 114 in 2019 made several changes to the state’s cruelty laws, including unclear requirements for tail docking and dewclaw removal, and unclear veterinary care requirements.  These provisions were removed from the bill at the request of AKC, local clubs, and breeders.  As passed by the legislature in June 2020, the bill seeks to provide guidance for prosecution of cruelty cases.  This includes defining animal abuse as when a person “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” inflicts injury.  Questions have been raised about accidents and incidents where a dog gets injured, even if the owner was acting in a responsible manner.  The bill as amended will soon be sent to the governor, and those who reside or participate in events are encouraged to contact the governor to express comments.

Louisiana SB 425 would allow the confiscation of any animal on the premises where an arrest is made for dogfighting. It has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary C Committee.

Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources announced June 4, 2020 it had finalized adoption of detailed regulations overseeing animal rescue and shelter organizations and updated regulations for pet shops.  A public hearing with strong opposition from animal rights activists was held last April.  AKC GR testified in support, submitted written testimony and at numerous grassroots advocacy presentations over the year, encouraged kennel clubs to email the Governor in support.  The new rules require annual registration, basic sanitary conditions, core vaccinations prior to importation, record keeping; and adopters may return animals for a full refund of the adoption fee if a medical condition or behavior issue not disclosed is discovered by a veterinarian within 14 days of placement.  The 330 CMR 30.00 details are here.

Massachusetts – On May 8, 2020, the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government released a committee re-draft of multiple animal bills that did not include the HB 1822 proposed ban on dogs outside and unattended opposed by AKC GR, dog owners, breeders, sportsmen and police officers that have dogs that would be negatively impacted. The committee re-draft, SB 2760 has been sent to Senate Ways and Means Committee where additional dog legislation is under consideration.  It would make significant harmful changes to current law if enacted.  AKC GR is working with Massachusetts advocates to create a bill summary outlining all the concerns.

Massachusetts – Two pet retail ban bills HB 800 and SB 175 were re-drafted by the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.  The re-draft, SB 2592, Reforming the Sale of Cats, Dogs and Rabbits in the Commonwealth does not ban pet stores from selling dogs or cats.  Instead, it establishes health certificate requirements, consumer protections and standards for all animal transfers whether made by a pet store, animal shelter, rescue or breeder.  AKC GR is generally pleased with SB 2592 and will advocate for clarifying amendments when the General Court resumes normal session procedures.  

Massachusetts – SB 2158 would create a civil infraction for presenting a pet dog as a service dog and authorize the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to prepare and make available to businesses upon request: (i) a decal suitable for posting in a front window or door stating that service dogs are welcome and that misrepresentation of a service dog is a violation of Massachusetts law; and (ii) a brochure detailing permissible questions a business owner may ask to determine whether a dog is a service dog, acceptable answers to those questions, and guidelines defining unacceptable behavior.  It was favorably reported from the Joint Federal Affairs Committee on April 21, 2020 and sent to Senate Ways and Means for consideration. AKC GR supports this bill.

Massachusetts – HB 4230 and SB 2423 (“Nero’s bill”) would allow EMTs to treat and transport law enforcement K9s injured in the line of duty.  Grassroots support from the Massachusetts dog clubs has been significant.  AKC GR continues to work with bill sponsors to pass the legislation this session.

Massachusetts – SB 595 would prohibit insurance companies from denying homeowners or renters insurance, or from requiring a higher premium based upon breed, size or weight of a dog owned.  On April 27, 2020, the bill was reported favorably by the Joint Committee on Financial Services Bill and was referred to the committee on Senate Ways and Means.  The Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and AKC GR support it.  

Michigan – House Bill 4035 would prohibit municipalities from enacting breed-specific laws.  Municipalities would still be permitted to enact other policies and regulations on dog owners, so long as these laws do not target specific breeds.  This bill was heard in the House Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee in February and has had significant support from the AKC and clubs. It now awaits review by the House Ways and Means Committee.  Read more. 

Michigan – House Bill 5577 would significantly restrict when dogs could be kept outside – even for a temporary period of time – and includes any time the dog is not in the visual range of the owner (even in their own yard).  The bill was been assigned to the House Agriculture Committee on March 5, and AKC understands that the chairwoman is very sympathetic to the many concerns and unintended consequences with the bill.  It has not been scheduled for a hearing.  Read more. 

Michigan – House Bills 5808 and 5809 would address the issue of animals seized on suspicion of cruelty.  While the AKC does not object to portions of the proposal relating to actions after a conviction, there are concerns about portions that would require payments during an ongoing trial, and the potential for permanently losing ownership of animals if a payment is missed.  The bills were introduced on May 20 and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.  AKC and its federation are monitoring this closely.

Mississippi SB 2311 contains sections that would reenact provisions that allow certain emergency responders to transport a police dog injured in the line of duty for treatment if there are no persons requiring medical attention or transport at that time. SB 2311 has passed in the Senate and House.

MississippiSB 2658 seeks to increase penalties for animal cruelty, make each act of cruelty a separate offense, make aggravated cruelty a felony, and provide that a court may prohibit a person convicted of simple animal cruelty from owing or residing with a dog or cat for a period of time not to exceed 5 to 15 years. Further, it would require a court to prohibit a person convicted of aggravated animal cruelty from owning or residing with a dog or cat for not less than 5 years. SB 2658 has passed in the Senate, has passed with amendments in the House, and has been returned for concurrence.

Mississippi – SB 2723 gives the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks the authority to extend certain open hunting seasons that end on a Friday to 30 minutes after sunset on the following Sunday. SB 2723 has been approved by the Governor and takes effect July 1, 2020.  

New Hampshire –The House of Representatives resumed formal session on June 11, 2020 and a vote to suspend the rules allowing the extension of legislative deadlines and continued activity failed to obtain the two-thirds majority necessary.  Both HB 371 and HB 1630 would change the number of dogs that may be transferred from 25 to 35 in a year without requiring a state pet vendor license and were voted favorably by the House in March and sent to the Senate.  Due to the pandemic, neither bill has had a Senate hearing and are unlikely to pass before the end of the session.

New Hampshire – The Department of Agriculture is strongly advocating for the tools to implement the health certificate requirement for animal transfers re-enacted last year.  HB 1627 would establish a statewide electronic animal records database where veterinarians, shelters, pet vendors and hobby breeders would be required to submit health certificates and rabies vaccination records.  AKC GR and NH DOGS testified in February supporting the requirement for health certificates, but expressing among other concerns, the lack of confidentiality for personally identifiable information included in the database.  House Environment and Agriculture committee changes eliminated any reference to “hobby breeder”- a term not defined in NH law, and included extensive privacy protections before favorable release.  On June 1, 2020 the House Ways and Means Committee approved the funding stream to establish the database and sent HB 1627 as amended to the consent calendar.  With the legislative session near end, the Senate folded multiple bills already heard in that chamber into multiple omnibus amendments for passage.  A 66-page amendment to HB 1234, relative to the heating of state buildings in Concord, includes the animal records database.   Although the confidentiality provisions are strong, AKC GR and NH DOGS submitted written testimony and testified remotely requesting that HB 1630, already approved by the House, be added.  The Senate committee chose not to do so. 

New Hampshire – AKC GR and NH DOGS have successfully negotiated an amendment to address concerns with SB 608 authorizing the public to take whatever action necessary to rescue an animal subject to extreme temperature in a motor vehicle, without liability.  The amendment, under Senate Committee on Judiciary review, would authorize law enforcement to permit an individual with a witness present to rescue an animal under extreme circumstances.

New York – As written, S.4577 would restrict dogs being outdoors in certain temperatures.  The Department of Agriculture would be required to issue a Blue Alert or Red Alert when the temperate meets a certain limit.  When an alert is issued, no animal may be left outside or in a vehicle without proper shelter or protectionAKC continues to communicate with the sponsor to address concerns.  The bill passed the Senate Domestic Animal Welfare Committee in February. It remains pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

New York – S. 4234A would prohibit pet stores from selling dogs or cats.  Instead, they would only be allowed to “showcase” animals available for adoption from a shelter, rescue, or adoption agency.  The measure also specifically removes retail pet stores from the definition of “pet dealer”, thereby removing them from the state’s consumer protection laws.  AKC continues to express concerns with this bill, which passed the Senate Domestic Animal Welfare Committee on February.  It has been on the calendar for consideration by the full Senate since then.

Pennsylvania – SB 798 seeks to make changes to the Dangerous Dog Law by changing definitions, increasing a fee, and eliminating the need to prove vicious propensity or history of attacks in determining that a dog is a dangerous dog under the law. The bill removes the term “without provocation” and replaces it with the term “unprovoked.” It then defines unprovoked as any action by a dog that involves biting, attacking or forcibly coming into unwanted physical contact with a person who or domestic animal that is acting peaceably and lawfully.  It also removes current language which requires the need to prove that a dog has a vicious propensity or history of attacks in order to prove the offense of harboring a dangerous dog.  As a result of this bill, an owner could be cited for “harboring a dangerous dog” after that first attack.  Additionally, it increases the registration fee for a dangerous dog certificate from $500 to $1,000 per calendar year.  The bill passed the Senate on June 8 and was assigned to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.  AKC GR understands that the bill will not likely be scheduled for a hearing, and the legislature is scheduled to soon go on recess for the summer.  AKC will continue to monitor the bill.  Read more

Rhode Island – The Department of Environmental Management regulations for the temporary import of animals into the state for fair, exhibition or show become final on June 22.  AKC GR and the Rhode Island kennel clubs worked closely with the State Veterinarian to ensure that the final rule creates a process for identifying any animal that may pose a risk of infectious disease and its removal, but without the proposed text that would have required a veterinarian on-site for the duration of the event and reporting to the agency the color of every entry.

Rhode Island – House Bill 7912 and SB 2698 would allow state courts to appoint a law student or volunteer lawyer to serve as an animal’s advocate during court proceedings to represent the animal in the interests of justice. Advocates of the bill report having approval for the measure from the State Veterinarian and the chiefs of police.  AKC GR has spoken with Rhode Island dog clubs about concerns that the measure could result in changing the legal status of animals as property.  A fact sheet has been finalized with club logos for distribution to lawmakers if a public hearing is scheduled.  The concerns have been communicated to the State Veterinarian.

TennesseeHB 281 / SB 436 seek to regulate pet stores at the state level. AKC GR requested that these bills be clarified so that individuals and breeders who sell a dog directly to a buyer shall specifically be excluded from the definition of “retail pet store”.  These bills did not advance in the 2019 session and carried over to 2020.  

Tennessee HB 1661 / SB 1933 seek to penalize misrepresentation of a service or support animal. Action on SB 1933 has been deferred in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.  HB 1661 was taken off notice in the House Commerce Committee.

TennesseeHB 2543 / SB 2442 would provide that if an animal control agency takes possession of an animal due to the death of the animal’s owner and the owner’s relative fails to retrieve the animal within seven days, it shall be treated as an abandoned animal. AKC GR requested a friendly amendment to HB 2543 to provide that a relative, co-owner, or other authorized person who contacts the animal control agency within seven days and states intent to retrieve the animal shall be granted additional time. Additional time could be conditioned upon payment of a reasonable and customary boarding fee to the impounding agency. HB 2543 passed unamended in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee and was taken off notice in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Action on SB2442 was deferred in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

TennesseeHB 852 / SB 1277 sought to enhance aggravated animal cruelty penalties. In 2019, the sponsor of HB 852 requested an amendment to direct the court to impose vastly increased penalties for any offense; expand confiscation to include animals, equipment, and property; limit a citizen’s right to appeal a bond for care award; and further enable the awarding of seized property, fines and fees to non-governmental organizations. An amendment proposed by the sponsor of HB 852 in 2020 sought to authorize non-governmental “societies” to seize animals; require the seizure of animals when a person is taken into custody on an accusation of a violation of certain offenses involving animals; provide that animals not subjected to alleged cruelty shall also be seized if it believed that they could be at risk of being the subject of some future offense; require that seized animals be placed in the custody of a specified list of entities that excludes veterinarians, co-owners, and boarding facilities; and require that any second or subsequent conviction for simple animal cruelty is a felony. AKC GR submitted letters of concern in 2019 and 2020 regarding the proposed amendments. HB 82 was taken off notice in subcommittee on 5/27/20.  Read AKC’s most recent alert.

Texas – The Sunset Advisory Commission’s June 2020 Staff Report has recommended that the Licensed Breeders Program, along with fourteen other TDLR occupational licensing programs, should be eliminated.  In its findings, the Commission implies that the law, as enacted, is fundamentally flawed, as it provides significant statutory exemptions and unenforceable requirements that undermine both the program’s goals and the agency’s efforts.  Moreover, program revenues have been found to not cover administration of the Licensed Breeder Program; yet despite these disproportionately high administrative costs, the Commission found that Texans still primarily rely on protections that predate the program.  Click here to read AKC GR’s June 11 post on the matter.  

Vermont –The Vermont Legislature committed to review formal recommendations by the Vermont Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board.  After informal discussions, including with the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs with input by AKC GR, the House Agriculture Committee introduced HB 940 establishing animal cruelty investigation, training and certification for animal control officers.  The bill has been posted to the notice calendar for House consideration.  AKC GR will continue to work closely with the Federation on bill text.

Vermont – HB 636 requires a dog trainer to inform his or her client of the methods and equipment that will be used to train the client’s dog and of the risks and benefits of those methods and equipment, and to require the dog trainer to obtain the client’s consent to that training.  AKC GR plans to contact the bill sponsor to understand the rationale for the measure once the andemic emergency subsides.

Vermont – Animal rescues and shelters are asking Governor Scott for authority via emergency orders to resume importing animals into the state and considering breeding animals to meet the demand for pets.  In 2016, registration and oversight requirements for animal importers and shelters were eliminated.  The Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs sent a letter to the Governor on May 21st stating that public health and safety requires registration, vaccination and quarantine by these organizations. AKC GR issued an alert encouraging emails be sent to the Governor in support of the federation’s letter and forwarded a similar request to him on June 3, 2020.