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Taking Command Newsletter

State Issues March 2020

State Issues: News from the State Capitols

Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking. Visit the 2020 Legislation Tracking page and click on your state to get the latest updates on state bills monitored by the AKC.

Alabama – HB 209 seeks to authorize food service establishments to allow pet dogs in outdoor restaurant seating areas if the company wishes to do so.  It requires 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 and will next be considered by the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Read AKC’s alert in support of this bill.

Alabama – SB 67 seeks to prohibit leaving a pet in a motor vehicle unattended in a manner that creates unreasonable risk of harm to the animal, sets out processes for notifying a public safety official and for removing and securing the animal, provides criminal immunity for a person who removes an animal, and provides 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.

Alabama – SB 196 would bring animal enterprises and working animals under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Agriculture and Industries. It would provide 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 establish authority and procedures for the investigation of animal cruelty and set out specific criteria for the impoundment of animals when cruelty is alleged. It would also provide 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. Read the alert.

California – AB 2692 would regulate dog trainers in the state and require inspections of their training facilities.  Other provisions include reporting on the training methods used and extensive record-keeping requirements, with significant fines for violations.  The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing and AKC GR is meeting with the sponsor’s office to discuss the bill.

California – AB 2117 further restricts the sale of animals in retail pet stores. In 2017, California passed AB 485 into law, restricting retail pet stores from selling any dog, cat or rabbit unless that animal came from a municipal shelter, a rescue organization, a humane society or a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. That bill’s sponsor, Rep Patrick O’Donnell, has introduced AB 2117 this session. This bill will further restrict the sources from which retail pet stores can obtain animals only to municipal and county animal shelters. GR contacted Assemblyman O’Donnell’s office regarding the bill. Apparently, the Assemblyman has become aware that rescues, humane organizations and societies for cruelty prevention are getting around the original bill’s intent and supplying puppy mills dogs. This bill attempts to remedy that concern.  AKC continues to closely monitor this bill.

California – AB 2152 will prohibit a retail pet store from selling a dog, cat or rabbit that is obtained from a legal source if the pet store has an economic stake in the animal’s sale. This bill will allow adoptable animals to be showcased in the retail establishment so long as it does not stand to profit. This bill conflicts with AB 2117 and AKC is closely monitoring.

California – AB 2059 is labeled the “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.

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 misinformation 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 has 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 is currently scheduled for a hearing on April 14, the day after the legislature is scheduled to resume activities after a recess due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Read more.

Colorado – Senate Bill 20-78 would allow restaurants to allow well-behaved, leashed dogs in their outdoor dining areas, so long as certain criteria are met.  AKC and its Colorado federation are supporting this bill, which passed the legislature and was sent to the governor on March 17.

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 amended bill is now pending in the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. AKC GR and the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs continue to work to address concerns with this bill.  Read more

Connecticut – The state department of agriculture has publicly released notice of draft regulations overseeing animal importers and shelters.  AKC GR is reviewing the proposal and will be providing its analysis so comments may be submitted before the April 21, 2020 deadline.

Connecticut – A work group discussing service animals, including AKC GR, last met in December.  Representative Abercrombie, as Chair, compiled input for submission to the legislature.  As a result, the Human Services committee is considering HB 5440 to align state law with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act prohibiting discrimination against a disabled person who uses a service animal and increase paid leave to 20 days for a disabled person to attend service animal training. It would also require the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to post educational materials on its website describing differences between service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals; the rights and responsibilities of an owner, and permitted compliance methods under state and federal law for an owner of a place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement. AKC GR supports the bill.

Connecticut – An alert regarding multiple bills impacting dogs scheduled for public hearings and cancelled at least until March 30, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic was issued by AKC GR.  A hearing on HB 5368 was held and the bill has been favorably released by the Joint Committee on Insurance and Real Estate making it active for a vote.  This bill would establish a task force composed of political appointees to study the use of breed of dog as an underwriting factor for homeowner’s insurance policies.  AKC GR has issued an alert with talking points on HB 5368, encouraging emails to representative and senators in opposition because there is no guarantee that the interests of dog owners will be represented on the taskforce.

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.  Read the alert.

Florida – HB 363 / SB 186 would have provided that certain contracts for the sale or lease of a pet are unenforceable. AKC supports a ban on predatory pet leasing schemes that victimize potential owners, and recommended amendments to exempt the type of lease used by responsible breeders to preserve specific bloodlines and maintain genetic diversity. SB 186 was favorably amended; however, the bill died in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.  Read the alert.

Florida –  HB 685 and similar SB 980, among positive provisions, would have required certain animal shelters, humane organizations, or animal control agencies that take receivership of any lost, stray, unwanted, or homeless dogs or cats, to adopt written policies and procedures to achieve specified goals and conform to certain operational standards. SB 980 died in the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee. Read the alert.

Florida – HB 1165, among other provisions, would have authorized certain vendors of alcoholic beverages to allow dogs in designated areas on their licensed premises. AKC GR supported the bill as filed. HB 1165 advanced in House committees but died on the House Second Reading calendar.

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 – HB 1237 and similar bill SB 1698, among other provisions, would have required Florida pet stores to be licensed by the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation; set out requirements for where pet stores may source dogs and cats; provided for enhanced conditions and veterinary care for dogs and cats in pet stores, and replaced the current patchwork of local requirements for pet stores. As originally filed, this bill contained unacceptable definitions of breeders and other problematic provisions. AKC GR worked with stakeholders on an amendment that addressed these concerns. Both bills died in committees.  Read the alert.

Florida – SB 48 would subject a veterinarian to disciplinary action by the Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine for declawing a cat when it is not necessary for therapeutic purposes.  AKC GR is monitoring this bill.  Read the alert. SB 48 died in committee.

FloridaSB 240 would have designated shelter animals as the official state pet. Read the informational alert. SB 240 died in the Rules Committee.

Florida – SB 522, as amended, would have provided that a person who leaves a dog outside tethered and unattended during a natural disaster commits animal cruelty. “Natural disaster” means that a hurricane, tropical storm, or tornado warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for a municipality or county, or the municipality or county is under a mandatory or voluntary evacuation order. AKC GR has recommended additional amendments. Read the most recent alert. SB 522 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

FloridaSB 1044, among other provisions, would have required veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty against a dog or cat to a law enforcement or animal control agency, and required certain other persons to report suspected animal cruelty to a veterinarian.  The bill also provided certain exemption from liability for reporting suspected animal cruelty. AKC GR recommended that the bill be substantially amended.  Read the alert. SB 1044 died in the Rules Committee.

FloridaSB 1048 would have allowed courts to appoint an animal advocate to pursue the “interests of an animal” in certain court proceedings; grant powers to such individuals; and required the Animal Law Section of the Florida Bar to maintain a list of attorneys and certified legal interns who are eligible to be appointed for such purposes. Read the alert. SB 1048 died in the Judiciary Committee.

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 require the creation of 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 develop 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. The American Kennel Club is concerned with Hawaii House Bill 2163. The bill, introduced by Representative Roy Mitsuo Takumi, 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 agenda and AKC Government Relations will update when developments warrant.

Hawaii – SB 677. The Hawaii Senate is considering a bill that would prohibit the humane tethering of dogs if dog under the age of six months and without supervision by its owner or an agent of its owner. The bill would also prohibit tethering a dog restrained by means of a choke collar, pinch collar, or prong collar without supervision by its owner or an agent of its owner. Concerned Hawaii dog owners are encouraged to contact the bill’s sponsor, Senator Les S. Ihara Jr., and members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, and their elected Senators in Honolulu to comment on this bill. This bill was scheduled for decision making on Wednesday, March 18 but has since been deleted from the meeting schedule. AKC will monitor closely.

Indiana – Senate Bill 185 would create a consumer protection law for those who sell dogs in the state.  As amended by the Senate, this would include breeders and rescue organizations.  AKC and its state federation are supporting this bill, and also asking for a clarifying amendment regarding what vaccinations are required to be administered prior to sale.  The bill was considered in the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on February 25 but ultimately held.

Iowa – HF 474 makes several positive updates to Iowa laws protecting dog ownership.  This includes recognizing microchips as a valid means of proving ownership, and only allowing dogs to be seized with a court order.  If dogs are seized, they may not be sterilized and must be provided with certain care and conditions standards. It also establishes a new misdemeanor for those who knowingly file false reports that would result in the confiscation of dogs.  AKC and several local clubs supported this bill, which had a hearing on February 5.  While it will not advance this year, AKC and clubs have begun outreach to the sponsor and stakeholders to work towards passing a similar measure in the 2021 session.

Iowa – House File 737 makes several changes to the state’s cruelty laws, including defining animal abuse as when a person “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” inflicts injury.  Questions were raised about accidents and incidents where a dog gets injured, even if the owner was acting in a responsible manner.  Other amendments include changes to the regulations for shelter, food, and other aspects of dog care.  The Senate amended the bill to exempt those who are licensed by the state, so long as they are in full compliance with the state’s breeder laws and standards.  The bill as amended passed the Senate on March 10 and now awaits final approval by the House when the legislature goes back into session at the end of their extended recess.

SB 21 as amended would provide that veterinarian finds that an animal with which he or she has a veterinarian-client patient relationship has been abused, the veterinarian may make a report to the Office of the State Veterinarian for certain livestock and poultry and to law enforcement for any other animal.  SB 21 has passed in the Senate and the House Committee on Agriculture.

KentuckySB 175, a positive bill that would guarantee the right to utilize working animals for the mutual benefit and welfare of the animals and those they serve, has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Louisiana SB 425 would allow the confiscation of any animal on the premises where an arrest is made for dogfighting. This bill has not yet been assigned to a committee.

Maine – An emergency measure to address the COVID-19 pandemic was signed into law by Governor Mills on March 18, 2020 after the legislature closed its session for the remainder of the year.  Chapter 617 provides that a dog license that expires during the COVID-19 state of emergency, as declared by the Governor, is extended until 30 days following the termination of the state of emergency, among other provisions.

MarylandHB 406 and SB 627 originally sought to address the issue of unattended dogs in extreme weather conditions.  It further defined those conditions and required that no dog could be tethered for more than 30 minutes if the dog is left unattended and without access to suitable shelter as defined in the bill.  Given the language in the bill, questions about the meaning of the term “unattended” as used in the bill and the requirement for access to “suitable shelter,” AKC GR was concerned that the legislation could impact dog shows, field trials, rally, agility, hunting, and other activities.   As such, the sponsor agreed to amend the bill to allow for an exemption “if the dog is lawfully and actively engaged in hunting; livestock herding; sledding; sporting; or training.”  While the bill did pass the House, it did not make it to final passage in the Senate prior to the 2020 session coming to an end.

Maryland – HB 863  as introduced,  sought to ban organized “hunting or killing contests”, with the intent to stop certain activities such as coyote hunting contest.  AKC GR and sportsmen groups expressed concerns that the broad wording could impact humane, legitimate hunting, field trial, and similar events.  The bill was amended to remove the word “hunting”, and to further clarify that the bill does not include “lawful dog training or dog performance competitions.”  While the bill did pass the House, it did not make it to final passage in the Senate prior to the 2020 session coming to an end.

Maryland – SB 625  sought to regulate the Internet sales of animals by pet stores.  The original language concerned many who use Facebook or other internet “brag” pages to showcase their dogs and puppies for sale.  In a conversation with the sponsor, AKC GR learned that the sponsor was going to amend the bill.  As amended, all references to Internet sales were removed.  It further clarified that a pet store does not include situations where the animals are sold at establishments where they were bred, and the buyer and seller are both present during the sale or transfer.  The new language would have clarified for the first time in Maryland law that home-based breeders are not considered retail pet stores.  While the bill did pass the Senate, it did not make it to final passage in the Senate prior to the 2020 session coming an end.

Massachusetts – 2018 passage of SB 2646, PAWS II, established a special commission to study and report on the feasibility and cost of mandating that employees and contractors of the Department of Children and Families, employees and contractors of the Department of Elder Affairs and investigators for the Disabled Persons Protection Commission report known or suspected animal cruelty, abuse and neglect.  As the result of significant input, the final report with possible legislative recommendations has been delayed until spring of 2020.

Massachusetts – Multiple animal bills were heard by three joint committees in 2019.  AKC GR has issued alerts and testified, as appropriate.  2020 is the second year of the formal legislative session and in early February joint committees sent the majority of problematic animal bills to study order, including SB 118 requiring licensure of dog trainers. On March 23rd, however, the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government issued another extension of time giving the committee until May 8, 2020 to decide what action to take on several problematic bills heard last June.  Most of them have been filed repeatedly over the years, except for HB 1822 which would ban leaving dogs outside and unattended for longer than 15 minutes.  AKC GR continues to work with Massachusetts dog owners that would be negatively impacted and educate lawmakers regarding the consequences.

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 – The Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security made minor changes to Nero’s bill before favorably releasing HB 4230 and SB 2423 in December.  The measure 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 is now working with bill sponsors, Rep. Crocker and Sen. Montigny to estimate the cost of EMT training with the Joint Health Care Finance and Senate Ways and Means Committees.

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 on February 19 and 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.

Minnesota – HF 3369 was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, March 17 by the Minnesota House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division. The hearing was cancelled and has not been rescheduled. The bill seeks to prohibit the sale of dogs and cats by retail pet shops. The American Kennel Club (AKC) opposes legislation that attempts to artificially manipulate the market in favor of pets sourced solely through shelters and rescues, especially those that attain their supply not from local sources but through interstate trafficking.

Minnesota –The Minnesota House Committee on Government Operations was scheduled to consider HF 3584, which seeks to create a Companion Animal Board as the primary authority for regulating companion animals in this state. The bill was removed from the schedule and has not been rescheduled. Concerned Minnesota residents are strongly encouraged to contact the bill’s sponsor and the committee members to express concerns with H.F. 3584.

Mississippi –  HB 679 and SB 2311 both 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. HB 679 has passed in the House and SB 2311 has passed in the Senate.

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.

Mississippi – SB 2723 would give the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to authority to extend certain open hunting seasons that end on a Friday to 30 minutes after sunset on the following Sunday. SB 2723 has passed in the Senate.

Missouri – HB 2241 and HB 2244 would prohibit any county or municipality (including those under home rule) from controlling or regulating specific breeds of dogs. It would also make any existing breed-specific law in the state null and void.  Counties and municipalities may regulate dogs, including at-large and vicious dogs, so long as the laws are not breed-specific.  These bills, supported by AKC GR and its Missouri federation, were placed on the third reading calendar on March 18, meaning it is ready for a vote by the full House.  Read more.

Missouri – House Bill 2111 would make several positive changes to protect the rights of dog owners whose animals are seized on suspicion of cruelty or neglect.  The purpose of the bill is to ensure that the accused are innocent until proven guilty, and to protect their dogs that are seized and held during a trial.  The bill would also hold the organization holding the animals accountable for neglect that occurs under their care.  AKC and its Missouri federation are supporting this bill, which was placed on the third reading calendar for consideration by the full House on March 18.  Read more.

New Hampshire – AKC GR continues to actively work with New Hampshire Dog Owners of the Granite State (NH DOGS) on a number of bills.  The House of Representatives voted March 11-12, 2020 as follows:

  • HB 1630 – This bill sets the limit of dogs that may be transferred in one year without a pet vendor license to 35 from 25 and creates an exemption from the requirement to obtain a pet vendor license for certain breeders. House Environment and Agriculture recommended passage as amended and the House adopted the recommendation.
  • HB 1388 – This bill would prohibit the sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits by pet vendors.  House Environment and Agriculture Committee recommended not to pass and the House adopted the recommendation.
  • HB 1449 – This bill inserts a definition of “animal hoarding disorder” into the animal cruelty law recognizing this mental illness results in animal neglect and if untreated, it repeats.  The text would authorize courts to order an evaluation and treatment for a defendant, as necessary.  House Environment and Agriculture Committee recommended passage as amended, and the House adopted the recommendation.
  • HB 1187 – This bill allows animal shelters to own or lease their facilities and clarifies that they are required to vaccinate for rabies and provide a form of positive identification before transfer, if unknown.  The House adopted the recommendation of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee to pass the bill with amendments.
  • HB 1560 – This bill creates a class B felony for anyone who knowingly or recklessly violates the law requiring adequate sustenance or shelter and the animal dies or “suffers serious bodily injury” as defined in the criminal code for human victims. This change could treat animals as victims with qualifying rights under the law. The House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety omitted the reference to criminal code for humans and inserted a definition into the animal cruelty law for “serious injury”.  These changes were adopted by the House.
  • HB 1164 – This bill authorizes the court to appoint a volunteer law student or lawyer as an animal advocate during prosecution for cruelty charges. House Committee on Judiciary recommended not to pass, and the House adopted the recommendation.
  • HB 1542 – This bill classifies dogs as victims, along with children and vulnerable adults by changing law to authorize any person to take any action to rescue them, without any liability, if they believe it necessary due to extreme temperatures in a motor vehicle. House Committee on Judiciary recommended not to pass and the House adopted the recommendation.

New Hampshire – AKC GR and NH DOGS has successfully negotiated an amendment with Senator Sherman 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 on February 3 and 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 3.  It has been on the calendar for consideration by the full Senate since February 11.

Rhode Island In January, the Rhode Island State Veterinarian posted specific requirements for animals imported for the purpose of fairs, shows, or exhibitions to prevent spread of infectious disease while allowing these events to proceed without needing to comply with general rules requiring current certificates of veterinary inspection.  These will apply to dogs entering Rhode Island for less than 10 consecutive days to compete in AKC-sanctioned events and imposes requirements for individuals responsible for the events.  After AKC GR expressed concerns that aspects of the proposal may be difficult for event-giving clubs in Rhode Island to meet, the State Veterinarian met on March 2, 2020 with AKC GR and Rhode Island clubs to discuss how to accomplish the goals without burdening the clubs.  Acceptable changes to the final rules are being made at this time.

Rhode Island – After hearing from AKC GR, the House Majority Leader did not re-file legislation to establish an animal rights advisory council charged with making annual policy recommendations this session.  However, a rank and file legislator has amended the title to establish an animal welfare advisory council with the original appointees and filed House Bill 7606 for consideration this year.  AKC GR is concerned the representation on the council would not provide a balanced policy perspective.

Rhode Island – The Senate President has established a commission relative to dangerous dogs with a goal of filing legislation to update state law. AKC GR presented a summary of effective state laws and AKC’s model dangerous dog act on December 12, 2019.  The commission is now finalizing its draft legislation after accepting input from AKC GR and other stakeholders.

Rhode Island – House Bill 7912 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’s best interests. Advocates of the bill report having approval for the measure from the state veterinarian and the chiefs of police.  AKC GR has notified Rhode Island dog clubs and the Rhode Island Veterinarians Association of concerns the measure could result in changing the legal status of animals as property. An upcoming conference call to discuss action steps has been scheduled.

South Dakota Senate Bill 84 seeks to provide additional categories in its Service Animal Definition.  The Bill passed on consent in the Senate and House and is waiting to be signed by the Governor. Those who support SB 84 are encouraged to contact the Governor and offer support.

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 Heath and Welfare Committee.  HB 1661 passed in the House Business Subcommittee.

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. A meeting scheduled for the full committee has been canceled. Action on SB 2442 has been deferred in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

TennesseeSB 1747, which requires a court to impose a mandatory minimum 2-year ban on custody of companion animals for persons convicted of aggravated animal cruelty, animal fighting, and bestiality offenses, and further requires a court to impose a lifetime ban on the custody of companion animals on a second or subsequent conviction, was signed by the Governor and takes effect July 1, 2020.

TennesseeHB 852 / SB 1277 seeks 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. AKC GR submitted letters of concern in 2019. A March 17 meeting of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee to consider HB 852 was canceled. Tennessee residents are urged to monitor these bills for problematic amendments.

Vermont –The Vermont Legislature committed to review formal recommendations by the VT Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board.  After informal discussions, including 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 consideration.  AKC GR will continue to work closely with the Federation on bill text.

Vermont – A newly filed bill 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 is reaching out to the bill sponsor to understand the rationale for the measure.

VirginiaSB 272 and HB 1552 sought to make changes to further restrict tethering even though Virginia enacted legislative relating to tethering last year (supported by the AKC and our federation).   In the original forms, both bills contained language regarding tethering based on absolute temperatures and weather conditions, amd a dangerous provision that would allow local governments to arbitrarily pass laws stricter than state law on such items as proper food, water, and veterinary care for dogs.

The final version of SB 272 keptabsolute temperatures and weather conditions language and expanded to include unclear language regarding a determination by an animal control officer as to the ability of the dog to handle such conditions.  While it could allow for situations where a dog could be allowed outside when the temperatures are outside the range, it could also prove problematic.  The local law provision language was removed.  The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.

SB6300/HB 2317 included language defining and equating pain in an animal as being the same thing that a human would feel. GR worked with the sponsors and concerned organizations and successfully had the “pain” language removed from the legislation. The bills contain provisions that are beneficial to responsible dog owners such as removing as a legal defense to animal abandonment charges that the owners was experiencing economic distress. The bill also strengthens laws against dog fighting. The bill with amendments recommended by the AKC is on the governor’s desk.  Read more.

WashingtonHB 2344/SB 6221 and HB 1640 and SB 5209 bans the sale of any pet at a retail pet store unless the animal is a dog or cat obtained from a rescue organization or an animal control agency. AKC GR expressed concerns with these bills, which did not pass this session.

West Virginia House Bill 2185 would have allowed the removal of animals left unattended in motor vehicles by “agents” authorized by the legislation to do so.  Such “agents” are defined as any: Emergency Medical Service Personnel; Humane officer; Law-enforcement officer; or Member of a paid or volunteer local fire department.  The bill specified that an agent does not include members of the general public.  The bill also sets forth conditions to rescue and retrieve an animal in danger in an unattended vehicle and exempt the defined “agents” from liability.  This bill did not receive a committee floor vote prior to the end of the 2020 session.