News from the State Capitols
Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking.
Alabama –House Bill 485 as introduced would, among other provisions, allow a dog to be confiscated without court authorization if “suspected” of harassing, harming, or killing livestock. AKC is working with the bill sponsor on additional amendments to protect the rights of dog owners. The bill is pending consideration by the House of Representatives, which reconvenes on March 29. Read more.
Arizona – House Bill 2323 states that for the purposes of homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, the breed of dog may not be considered for underwriting or determining risk or loss, questionnaires or surveys regarding the presence of a dog on the premises, or findings that a dog is dangerous for the purpose of providing insurance coverage. AKC worked with the sponsor and a broad range of stakeholders to develop this legislation. The bill passed the House on March 16 and is pending committee assignment in the Senate. Read more.
Arizona – House Bill 2626 would require shelters to scan for a microchip when obtaining an animal and make reasonable efforts to locate the owner. The bill also amends several other requirements for animal shelters. HB 2626 has passed the House and is pending in the Senate Government Committee.
California – AB 1881 would establish a “Dog and Cat Bill of Rights” that must be posted by all shelters and rescues. While there is no enforcement with this, AKC has significant concerns about putting “rights” of animals in law and the implications this has for changing the legal status of animals in the state. AKC is communicating and working with the sponsor to develop other alternatives to promote responsible dog ownership in the state. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Business and Professions Committee.
California – AB 1781 would regulate shelters and rescues transporting animals. It would require them to ensure that transport vehicles protect a dog’s health and safety. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Business and Professions Committee.
California – AB 2723 would amend current law regarding microchipping when a dog is adopted from a local shelter. It would require that the person buying the dog be listed as the owner with the microchip registry within 90 days of the ownership transfer. In addition, the shelter may not release a dog to someone claiming to be the owner unless that person is registered as the owner on the microchip or is authorized by the owner listed on the microchip. The bill will be considered by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on March 29. Read more.
California – AB 2380 would prohibit a person from obtaining a loan in order to purchase a dog or cat. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee.
California – SB 971 expresses concern that many pets are relinquished to shelters because of housing, moving, or landlord issues. It then states that nearly three-fourths of renters have pets, but breed, weight and ownership number restrictions can create a significant issue. It also emphasizes the disproportionate number of low-income families who have to choose between housing and their beloved pets. In an attempt to begin to address these concerns, SB 971 would make changes to the criteria and scoring system for providing loans for the state’s low-income housing projects. It would require that, among other provisions, the scoring system consider whether the project would include limitations on the number of animals on the premises or consideration of a dog’s breed or weight. In addition, the scoring system should provide an additional point to those projects that do not require an additional monthly fee for keeping an animal. This bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Housing Committee on March 24.
Connecticut –The Connecticut animal advocates caucus has introduced HB 5170. The Connecticut animal advocates caucus has introduced HB 5170, which would establish requirements for the adequate sheltering of dogs and add additional requirements concerning the tethering of dogs. It had a public hearing by the Joint Planning and Development Committee on Friday, February 25, 2022.
Connecticut – SB 141 would increase the penalty for intentionally injuring a police K9 or volunteer search and rescue dog. AKC GR supports the bill in recognition of the value of these working dogs.
Florida – HB 253 addresses “retail sale of domestic dogs and cats” and seeks to criminalize the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. The bill was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Florida – SB 172/HB 227 are “lawyers for animals” bills that, among other provisions, would provide for the appointment of an advocate for the interests of an animal in certain court proceedings. SB 172 seeks to provide that in certain civil or criminal court proceedings, the court may appoint, upon its own initiative or upon request of a party, an advocate to represent the interests of the animal, whether living or dead. HB 227 was withdrawn by the sponsor. SB 172 was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Florida – SB 226/HB 25 seek to establish funding for the care of retired law enforcement dogs. AKC GR supports this legislation. Committee substitute bill CS/CS/CS/HB 25 has passed in House committees. SB 226 was ordered enrolled in the Senate.
Florida –SB 416 / HB 883 seek to establish additional requirements for providers of animal cremation services and provide that certain acts and violations are unfair or deceptive acts. Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Florida –SB 420/HB 435 seek to increase penalties for certain crimes involving animals. House committee substitutes deleted a problematic definition of animal husbandry opposed by animal advocates. Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Florida –SB 614 /HB 721 seek to allow certain housing authorities to adopt rules or policies regarding dangerous dogs, provided such measures are not specific to breed. The bills would also remove the exemption for local breed specific ordinances enacted prior to October 1, 1990. AKC GR issued a legislative alert and sent letters of support for Committee Substitute 1 to HB 721. Despite support from a broad coalition of animal groups, both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Florida – SB 620 / HB 569, the “Local Business Protection Act,” is supported by AKC. The bill seeks to authorize certain businesses to claim damages from a county or municipality that enacts or amends certain ordinances that damage the profits of the business. This potentially provides recourse for certain animal related businesses that can document a 15% income loss that resulted from the enactment of local laws. SB 620 has passed in both chambers and advances to the Governor for signature.
Florida – SB 716 / HB 307 provide an exemption from public records requirements for records containing certain information pertaining to persons who have adopted an animal from an animal shelter or animal control agency operated by a local government. Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Florida –SB 772 among other provisions, provides definitions of “facility dog” and “therapy animal” pursuant to their use in depositions and courtrooms. Despite support, the bill was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Florida –SB 994 / HB 849 among other provisions, seek to establish state licensure and regulation for pet stores; expand requirements and reporting for animal shelters and rescues, and preempt certain restrictions on pet stores and breeders. The Florida Association of Kennel Club and other advocates sought additional exemptions, which appeared in SB 994, for breeders who do not sell at wholesale. AKC GR closely monitored this legislation, and particularly SB 994 which was amended in committee on January 11, 2022. Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Florida – SB 1508/HB 1075 would impose significant limitations on tethering a dog, with certain exceptions. HB 1075 has been referred to the House Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee and Judiciary Committee. Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Florida – SB 1750/HB 1061 seek to expand the obligations of a pet vendor if a pet is found to have a health issue, increase record keeping requirements, places limits on financial agreements for the sale of a pet, and pursuant to current consumer protection provisions for pet purchasers, remove the cap on veterinary costs (currently limited to the amount paid for the pet) that must be paid by the pet vendor. HB 1061 has been assigned to House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee, Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee, and Commerce Committee. Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Georgia – Advocates continue working to advance HB 530, which would designate May 1 of each year as Purebred Dog Day in Georgia.
Georgia – HB 1450, aka “Georgia Safe Outdoor Dog Act”, seeks to establish some good practices to assure the health and wellness of dogs in long-term tethering situation; however, it also creates problematic unnecessary limitations for temporary tethering, including limiting the ability to tether a dog outdoors for a short period of time during safe and pleasant weather conditions. AKC GR and the Georgia Canine Coalition are working to address concerns with HB 1450. Read more about this legislation. The bill remains assigned to the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
Georgia – SB 303, a problematic dog breeder bill, did not advance during year 1 of the 2021-2022 legislative session. AKC GR, the Georgia Canine Coalition, and other advocates are working to communicate concerns with the bill and to urge that it be amended to include positive provisions that benefit the well-being of dogs and provide protections to individuals who acquire dogs.
Hawai’i – The international airport on Oahu is the only port of entry for all dogs and cats entering Hawaii, including service animals, with few exceptions. Since the airport animal quarantine facility is located on Oahu, the animal inspection fee for service animals arriving on Oahu is waived. Residents and visitors who arrive at ports of entry on other islands with a service animal must pay the inspection permit fee. AKC GR supports House Bill 2319, which seeks to require the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture be responsible for all inspection permit fees for service animals that arrive on islands other than Oahu. An amended HB 2319 has passed two policy committees and has been assigned to House Finance for further consideration.
Hawai’i – Several bills seek to clarify the legal use of service and assistance animals, particularly after the legislature made it a civil violation to misrepresent a service animal in 2018. AKC GR has determined that these bills do not infringe on the use of service dogs but will continue to monitor for any developments with them.
Illinois – House Bill 4641 would allow courts to consider ordering a person to forfeit animals on a violation of the state’s animal laws, rather than a conviction. While in some cases the violations may be significant, others may be for minor infractions that can be corrected and do not rise to the level of a serious offense. In addition, this is a significant shift that could result in dog owners permanently losing their animals for offenses even if they are not convicted of a crime. AKC and its federation are opposing this bill, which is pending in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee. Read more.
Illinois – House Bill 3996 creates a petty offense for those who knowingly misrepresent a service animal for the purpose of allowing an animal in a place that does not allow non-service animals, or allowing an animal on public transportation that prohibits non-service animals. AKC supports this bill, which is pending in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee. Read more.
Illinois – House Bill 3917 makes numerous changes to the state laws regarding the care of animals. AKC and the state federation, along with many others, are communicating concerns with the sponsor’s office. It is pending in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee. Read more.
Illinois – House Bill 5377 seeks to amend the state’s laws regarding pet theft, by clarifying that theft of a pet valued under $500 is a felony. AKC and its state federation have been in touch with the sponsor and provided amendments to improve pet theft laws and penalties in the state. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee.
Indiana – House Bill 1102 allows for dogs wearing a service dog vest, or dogs identified as service dogs, to be removed from a premises if they are not housebroken or if they cannot be brought under control by their handler. AKC supports this bill, which unanimously passed the House but was held in the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee.
Indiana – Senate Bill 177/House Bill 1148 is a reorganization of the state veterinary medical board and Board of Animal Health. It creates a new Center for Animal Health that would be in charge of regulations and enforcement of the care of animals that is overseen by the state veterinarian. The bill was signed by the governor on March 8, 2022.
Iowa – HF 2456 would prohibit state licensees from selling dogs in the state using financial contracts. This prohibition would apply to commercial breeders, kennels and pet shops. The law further states that these financial contracts would be void and unenforceable and the licensee shall not collect compensation. A violation could lead to revocation or suspension of your license. This bill was recently introduced and due to session constraints it is unlikely this bill will be heard during this session.
Kansas – Senate Bill 551 would establish a new Pet Animal Facilities Inspection Division within the Kansas Department of Agriculture specifically tasked with inspecting pet animal facilities that will include breeders licensed by the state, pet shops, boarding kennels, rescues, distributors, research facilities, and shelters. This includes inspections of both hobby and retail breeders. Hobby breeders are defined in current state law as premises where three, four or five litters and less than 30 dogs may be sold in a license year. A retail breeder premises is defined as premises that sells 6 or more litters and 30 or more dogs in a license year. The Secretary of Agriculture would appoint the new director. AKC GR has been in communication with the committee chair to discuss concerns raised by some local breeders. The bill had a hearing on Thursday, March 17, but no vote was taken. Read more.
Kentucky – SB 128 seeks to designate the Treeing Walker Coonhound as the official state dog. AKC GR is supporting this bill. It is assigned to the Senate Licensing & Occupations Committee.
Kentucky – HB 20 seeks to redefine torture of a dog or cat and provide for penalties. A Committee Substitute that favorably clarifies the bill passed in the House Judiciary Committee, and a floor amendment to further clarify the bill was filed. The bill could be considered by the House at any time.
Kentucky – HB 71, among other provisions, seeks to allow any agency that seizes an animal to petition the court to require the owner to pay the cost of care for the animal for the anticipated costs related to seizure and care of the animal or else the animal is forfeited. The provisions of the bill would encompass any alleged violation of any state or local animal ordinance.
Kentucky – SB 125 is a problematic bill that seeks to amend animal cruelty law and require owners of animals confiscated in conjunction with charges against the owner or caretaker to pay costs of impoundment for the animals, even if found not guilty or charges are dropped. The provisions of the bill would encompass any alleged violation of any state or local animal ordinance. The bill was amended in the Senate to exclude livestock animals. An additional proposed amendment supported by AKC was not adopted. Read more about this bill, which has passed in the Senate and is now in the Committee on Committees in the House.
Kentucky – HB 180 addresses civil liability immunity for damaging a vehicle when releasing pets in danger. It is currently pending in the Committee on Committees.
Louisiana – HB 607 seeks to increase the penalties for simple cruelty to animals and allow a court to order the offender to pay expenses for medical treatment of the animal. AKC is monitoring this bill, which has provisionally been assigned to the Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice.
Maine – Two measures of interest to AKC in 2022 include LD 1828, “An Act to Improve the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Low-cost Spaying and Neutering Program” which would require the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to contract for the administration of the Companion Animal Sterilization Fund, and LD 1744, to increase funding for the Animal Welfare Fund by increasing certain animal feed fees. Both bills were scheduled for public hearing on January 20, 2022 and AKC GR continues to monitor their movement.
Maine – LD 1885, “An Act to Increase Maine’s Veterinary Workforce” would create a program to increase the veterinary workforce in the state. AKC GR and the Maine Federation of Dog Clubs support this initiative. A public hearing by the Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business was held on February 3, 2022, and two subsequent work sessions to work out details on the bill have taken place.
Maine – AKC GR is pleased to note that Senator Marianne Moore has again filed a Resolution, SP 669, identifying May 1, 2022 as Purebred Dog Day.
Maine – LD 482 would adopt a model act for the regulation of pet insurance. It is a concept bill that was considered on February 24, 2022, by the Joint Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services.
Maryland – House Bill 1062 and Senate Bill 877 seek to authorize the filing of a petition against an owner or custodian for reasonable costs of caring for a seized animal, including the provision of food, water, shelter, and medical care, when animal cruelty is suspected. The bills limit costs to $15 a day per animal plus reasonable costs for necessary veterinary care. AKC appreciates that the bills do state that if the owners are ultimately found not guilty, they will get their animals and money returned to them. However, if a payment is missed at any time, then they will not get their animals back regardless of the ultimate verdict. AKC GR is urging the committees to amend the bills to protect the rights of dog owners ultimately found not guilty – regardless of whether they miss a payment. House Bill 1062 was considered in the House Judiciary Committee on February 24. Senate Bill 877 was considered in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 8. Votes are pending in both committees.
Maryland – House Bill 1375 and Senate Bill 815 would establish non-economic damages for “mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, comfort, and protection” resulting from the injury or death of a pet. AKC opposes these bills, which although such concepts may sound benign, represent a potential change in the legal status of animals (animal rights) and would increase the cost of care significantly; ultimately undermining the ability of pet owners to care for their pets. Both bills had public hearings in their respective Judiciary committees on March 2. Votes are pending.
Maryland – House Bill 16 and Senate Bill 44 limit the amount of time a dog can be outdoors in 32 degrees or lower temperatures or 90 degrees or higher temperatures without “suitable shelter” or access to shade. AKC GR was successful in having exemptions for hunting, livestock herding or guarding, sledding, sporting, or training added to the bills. HB 16 passed the House on February 28 and is pending in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. SB 44 was approved by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 1. While AKC has continued to ask for additional amendments, we are pleased that the bills continue to include the important exemptions. Read more.
Maryland – House Bill 965 increases the maximum amount of compensatory damages that may be awarded to a pet owner when someone causes injury or death to the animal in certain circumstances. The maximum amount would be increased from $10,000 to $25,000 and could include the fair market value of the pet and reasonable and necessary veterinary care. AKC GR is monitoring this bill, which was considered by the House Judiciary Committee on March 2 and is awaiting a Committee vote.
Massachusetts –SB 581 would inappropriately remove the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ authority to regulate privately-operated animal shelters and rescue organizations. In 2020, the agency adopted 13 pages of regulation to address sick, diseased and behaviorally challenged animals being re-homed by these organizations. AKC GR submitted written testimony to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on November 17, 2021 against the bill and it was sent to study order on February 3, 2022.
Massachusetts – Despite AKC GR testimony in opposition to SB 1322, the bill has been released favorably again this session from the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government and sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Among other restrictions, the bill would allow an animal control officer employed by a city or town to tell residents how many dogs or cats they can own after an inspection of their premises upon kennel license application. AKC GR submitted a detailed letter to this committee outlining concerns with the text on December 21, 2021. This legislation has been re-filed multiple sessions in a row following the same path of “no further action”. AKC GR will continue to monitor.
Massachusetts – SB 2397 would prohibit the misrepresentation of a service animal. AKC GR submitted testimony in support to the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs for the public hearing that was held on January 7, 2022. On February 14, the bill was reported favorably by committee and referred to the committee on Senate Ways and Means.
Massachusetts – HB 2547 would authorize the emergency transport and treatment of police K-9s injured in the line of duty. AKC GR urged Massachusetts residents to contact their lawmakers in support and request that they co-sponsor the bill. As a result, a significant number of new legislators signed on as co-sponsors. A companion bill, SB 1606, was refiled in the Senate. AKC GR issued an alert and testified in support before the Joint Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on July 14, 2021. On November 9, 2021, the Senate Ways and Means Committee responded positively by making a few changes to the text and releasing it favorably as SB 2573. New amendments provide flexibility when utilizing the provision if ambulances are in limited supply or an emergency veterinary clinic is not nearby. The Governor signed it as Chapter 23 of the Acts of 2022, on February 18, 2022. It becomes effective in 90 days.
Massachusetts – Multiple re-filed bills with problematic provisions for dog owners were considered by the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee on September 28, 2021. AKC GR issued an alert summarizing the bills and strongly encouraging residents to email the committee in addition to AKC’s written testimony. AKC GR provided support for just one bill on the agenda, HB 2146, because it would create the same consumer protections irrespective of where a pet was acquired. The deadline to advance HB 2146 has expired. SB 1341 would have established non-economic damages for injury to a pet. AKC opposed the bill and the committee sent it to a study order on January 31, 2022. HB 2130 (“Relative to Puppy Mills”) would require commercial breeder kennels, which are licensed by their municipality, to also obtain an annual municipal “breeders” license upon evaluation. HB 2209 would require the assessment of a dangerous dog with recommendations for training. The committee has extended its deadline to act on HB 2130 and HB 2209 until March 16, 2022.
Massachusetts – HB 384 and its companion bill, SB 230 would ban the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops unless sourced from animal shelters or rescues. AKC GR testified at the November 17, 2021 public hearing highlighting the elimination of consumer protections in these proposals and requesting the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture vote “No”. On February 3, 2022 the committee sent the bills to study order and they will not advance.
Massachusetts – HB 378 would require anyone who grooms a pet for money to pass approved testing standards and obtain a state grooming license. Grooming facilities would also undergo periodic inspections to ensure compliance with rules and regulations issued. Use of a cage or box dryer would be prohibited. Violations would result in penalties ranging from $100 to $1,000 per offense. AKC GR testified at the public hearing on July 12, 2021, regarding concerns detailed in AKC GR’s alert. Following the hearing, AKC GR met virtually with the bill sponsor’s office and outlined suggested amendments to the legislation, which were being considered. The deadline to advance the bill has expired.
Massachusetts – HB 917 would undercut current regulations that require imported animals to be quarantined in an isolation room at a facility, instead of allowing the animal to be kept with a foster family. AKC GR expressed concerns in written testimony that this may reduce compliance and increase the risk of communicable disease spread. The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on sent the bill to study order on February 3, 2022.
Massachusetts – The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture heard testimony on three bills to protect research animals, allowing adoption after health examination upon retiring from research activities. AKC GR supported HB 901 and HB 966 at the November 17, 2021 hearing and the committee advanced the bills favorably on February 3, 2022. HB 901 is on the House calendar for consideration.
Massachusetts – SB 885 and HB 1437 would protect Massachusetts dog owners from housing and insurance breed discrimination by preventing public housing and homeowner associations from discriminating against residents based on the breed, size or weight of dog owned; and by prohibiting insurance companies doing business in the commonwealth from denying, cancelling, refusing to renew, or inflating homeowners or renters insurance premiums, based upon breed of dog owned. Despite AKC GR’s testimony in support at the October 12, 2021, Joint Housing Committee hearing, these bills have been sent to study order and will not advance this session.
Massachusetts –SB 551 would create an advisory board, with a shelter and rescue coordinator serving as chair, to oversee various functions of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. AKC GR expressed concerns to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture at the November 17, 2021 public hearing, noting that a formal advisory board with permanent members chaired by a shelter and rescue coordinator is not necessary for the state agency to function effectively. The bill advanced favorably from committee on February 3, 2022.
Massachusetts –SB 585 would unreasonably expand the definition of “kennel” to a place where one or more dogs are bred on a residential property and require inspection, fees, and licensure. AKC GR submitted written testimony opposing the bill at the November 17, 2021 public hearing because it would contradict an ordinary person’s understanding that a kennel is a pack or collection of dogs on a single premise regulated by state law and municipal ordinances in Massachusetts. The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture sent the bill to study order on February 3, 2022.
Massachusetts – HB 305, referred to as “Ollie’s Law, would establish state licensure for commercial boarding and training kennels and provide numerous regulations regarding care, group sizes, and housing, just to name a few. In addition, the state would approve required training programs regarding animal behavior, dog body language, and other subjects. Injuries to dogs or people would be reported to the state. Other types of kennels (including personal kennels) could be required in the future to obtain state licensure in addition to a municipal kennel license. AKC GR issued an alert and testified expressing concerns with the bill at the public hearing in July. AKC GR also submitted recommended changes. The committee has decided it will not advance the bill this session.
Massachusetts – SB 2672 was released favorably on February 10, 2022, by the Joint Judiciary Committee as a re-write of nine bills. AKC GR issued an alert summarizing before testifying at the May 19, 2021, public hearing. The bill would insert domestic animals and livestock into the civil fine structure for lack of adequate shelter or sanitation for dogs. Civil fines collected would be forwarded to the Homeless Fund that provides money for ACO training and the state spay/neuter program. It also provides the court with great latitude in deciding how long the offender will be prohibited from owning animals, including exceptions if an offender can prove they are capable of caring for animals or have sought required counseling. AKC GR is monitoring this bill.
Michigan – House Bills 4703 and 4704 address the issue of animals being seized, and the payment of their care during impoundment. As introduced, the bills amend current law and clarify that the owner or possessor may request a hearing within 14 days to determine if the requirement to pay is justified and the cost is fair and reasonable. AKC issued an alert and drafted a letter to the committee expressing concerns with the underlying law. Numerous amendments were adopted by the House in November, including allowing the court to consider the ability of the defendant to pay and ensuring that if the owner is found not guilty, then the animals must be returned. However, it is unclear if this provision applies if a payment is missed during the trial. The bills have passed the House and are pending in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
Minnesota – House File 208 seeks to create a Companion Animal Board as the primary authority for regulating companion animals. The Board will be given broad powers to regulate animal welfare in the state. Although it requires that one “member must be a companion animal breeder”, the rest of the Board would be comprised of 12 members, most of whom will not have the level of animal husbandry expertise and experience of breeders and sportsmen, nor will they be directly impacted by the Board’s actions. The AKC has expressed opposition to the bill. Click here for more information.
Mississippi – HB 417 would have provided for expanded dog bite penalties and liability. It also would have authorized civil actions, including treble damages and pain and suffering payments to a dog bite victim. The bill died in committee.
Mississippi –SB 2022 seeks to allow a court to include a pet in a protection order in a domestic abuse situation. AKC GR supported this bill as introduced, which died in committee.
Missouri – House Bills 1588 and 1657 and Senate Bill 697 would prohibit municipalities from enacting breed-specific laws. AKC sent alerts in support of the bills and to encourage residents to call and oppose discussed amendments to add mandatory spay/neuter to these bills. AKC also submitted written testimony and the federation testified before the committee. No attempts to amend the House bills were approved, and the bills are now pending in the House Rules Committee. SB 697 was considered by the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee on March 2.
Missouri – House Bill 2204 is similar to bills introduced in previous sessions that would make reasonable amendments to the state’s cruelty laws to ensure the protection of the welfare of animals and the property rights of owners when animals are seized in conjunction with a trial regarding animal cruelty. AKC and its federation support this bill, which passed the House Agriculture Policy Committee on February 15 and is pending in the House Rules Committee. Read more.
New Hampshire – SB 368 has been filed at the request of the Commissioner for the Department of Agriculture and Markets to address challenges enforcing the licensed pet vendor requirements. It would provide authority to seize animals maintained by a pet vendor and housed in the licensed portion of a premise if, within 30 days of license revocation, the animals have not been transferred to another person. AKC GR and NH DOGS raised constitutional issues among other problems at the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources public hearing held on January 11, 2022.
New Hampshire – HB 1004 would make failure to provide your contact information after a dog injures another person a misdemeanor crime. AKC GR expressed concerns that although this bill is intended to promote responsible dog ownership, the text is vague and inconsistent with current state law. First, HB 1004 does not define the term “injury”, leaving the requirement to provide your contact information open to subjective interpretation. Second, it would charge a dog owner with a misdemeanor for failure to provide their contact information to someone injured by their dog even when trespassing on their property. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee considered the bill on January 28, 2022.
New Hampshire – Representative Read has filed HB 1107 to establish a committee that would study whether legislation should be proposed to prohibit discrimination or to add protection for pet owners and pets under property leasing and landlord-tenant laws. AKC GR submitted testimony in support of the measure for the January 12, 2022 public hearing.
New Hampshire – Representative Gallager reached out to AKC GR for assistance with his bill, HB 1186. It would mandate that shelters allow individuals to bring their companion animals with them when ordered to evacuate due to a declared emergency. After discussion with the Disaster Animal Response Team manager, AKC GR learned that although four emergency trailers across the state can be deployed, there are significant gaps in the emergency response plan. AKC GR testified in support of the bill’s intent on January 25, and is working with the committee on appropriate amendments to the bill.
New Hampshire – HB 1433 has been introduced as a “housekeeping” bill that would strike sections of law imposing fines for the purposeful poisoning of a dog and inserting text in the animal cruelty statute making the negligent poisoning of animals a misdemeanor and purposeful poisoning a felony crime; with an exception for poisoning rats and vermin. AKC GR submitted testimony for the January 28 hearing noting concerns that these changes would remove from the current statute the element of intent and impose criminal liability for incidents of accidental animal poisoning. A pet may gain access to a potentially harmful or fatal substance and many toxins are common items in your home and yard. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is reviewing testimony received.
New Hampshire – HB 1327 supported by AKC GR, would include diabetes in the conditions listed for eligibility for a service animal. On February 16, 2022, it was voted “ought to pass” by the House Committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs.
New Hampshire – SB 17, which authorizes dogs in outdoor dining areas under certain conditions was held over from 2021 and recently sent to Governor Sununu’s desk. He signed it into law on February 26, 2022.
New Jersey – Assembly Bill 1965 seeks to provide for an advocate in cases involving animals, and is a reintroduction of legislation considered in the 2020-2021 legislative session. Like its predecessor, A.1965 initially featured troublesome findings, which were removed by the Judiciary Committee. A.1965 was also amended to create a two-year initial term for the program. The bill still fails to explicitly state that animals are to be considered property under New Jersey law. AKC GR and our representatives in New Jersey, along with allied animal interest groups, continue to oppose A.1965.Click here for more information.
New Jersey – As introduced, Senate Bill 333 sought to prohibit persons convicted of criminal animal cruelty offenses from owning domestic companion animals and from working or volunteering at animal-related enterprises. AKC expressed deep concerns with section 2 of the bill, which would have allowed a court to order (1) the forfeiture of any animal owned by an animal cruelty offender and (2) the transfer of such animal to the custody of an animal shelter. In effect, the section failed to protect the property interests of co-owners not in possession of a dog at the time of the offense. A significantly amended version of S.333 was approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Monday, March 14, which addresses AKC’s concerns.
New Jersey – Senate Bill 981 seeks to add troublesome “cost of care” provisions that could be used to erroneously deprive individuals of their property by mandating forfeiture if they fail to pay assessed costs for care of seized animals, regardless of whether the individual is found not guilty. The bill was approved unamended by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Monday, March 14, and features provisions that are in conflict with amended S.333, which the same committee approved. AKC GR and our representatives in New Jersey continue to work with sponsors of the legislation to address concerns.
New York – A.4283/S. 1130, opposed by AKC, would prohibit retail pet stores from selling any dogs or cats. Instead, they would only be allowed to “showcase” animals available for adoption from a shelter, rescue, or adoption agency that has no affiliation with breeders. As such, they would no longer be required to provide background information on the dogs or provide consumer protection for sales. The bills also imply that reputable breeders should not be involved in rescue work. In 2021, AKC issued numerous alerts, submitted written testimony, had meetings with lawmakers, and submitted op-eds in opposition. The bills passed the Senate and two Assembly Committees, but were ultimately held in the Assembly Rules Committee. In 2022, the bills have been assigned again to the respective Agriculture committees. AKC GR met with the Senate bill sponsor and staff for the Senate Agriculture Chair to discuss concerns.
New York – Assembly Bill 9284 and Senate Bill 8315 would further expand and clarify the new law prohibiting insurance companies from denying or canceling coverage based solely on the breed of dog owned by the homeowner. These bills would state that insurance companies may not raise premiums for homeowners insurance based solely on the breed of dog at the home. AKC supports these bills, which passed committees and are pending votes in the Assembly and Senate. Read more.
New York – A. 8859 would prohibit companies offering renters insurance from denying or canceling coverage based solely on the breed of dog owned by the renter. This would expand the new law passed in 2021 that protects homeowners. AKC supports this bill, which has been referred to the Assembly Insurance Committee.
New York – A. 6246 seeks to further regulate animal shelters, including licensing, inspections, and standards of care for animals. The bill passed the Assembly Agriculture and Codes Committees and is pending in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. Its companion bill S. 6870 is pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Oklahoma – House Bill 2993 and Senate Bill 1326 would regulate and prohibit tethering in the state under certain circumstances. At this time neither bill has received a hearing and are pending in their respective committees.
Oklahoma – Senate Bill 1223, supported by AKC, would make it a misdemeanor for anyone without a disability or anyone that is not trained to assist those with a disability to misrepresent an animal as a service dog to gain special treatment or benefits. The bill was recommended as do pass from the Senate Public Safety Committee this week and just this week passed the Oklahoma Senate. The bill will now be considered in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Oklahoma – House Bill 2993 and Senate Bill 1326 would regulate and prohibit tethering in the state under certain circumstances. At this time neither bill has received a hearing and are pending in their respective committees.
Oregon – Animal rights activists have been collecting signatures to put a measure on the November 2022 ballot that would essentially ban all hunting, prohibit certain breeding practices including artificial insemination, and restrict training practices. Other provisions would dramatically impact farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and even pest control. On March 16, it was pulled for 2022 and is now being put forward for the 2024 ballot as IP 3. AKC is working with two broad coalitions to oppose the measure.
Pennsylvania – House Bill 2047 will enhance the punishments for breeders who abuse animals and make it more difficult for them to game the system when they lose their licenses. The bill would change the first violation for the mistreatment of dogs under their care from a summary offense to a misdemeanor. The maximum fine would also double. Additionally, the legislation would prevent any immediate family member of the offender from obtaining a license as well as anyone who resides at the same residence. The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. AKC GR will continue to monitor the bill, which is not scheduled for a hearing.
Pennsylvania – HB 142 would exempt certain Dog Law revenues from being transferred into a separate account. Since 1988, all fines, fees and costs collected by the Pennsylvania judicial system in excess of the amount collected from the same sources during Fiscal Year 1986-87 are deposited into the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account. This includes certain monies that would otherwise be used to fund operations of the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement has been operating at a deficit because the licensing fees it receives do not generate enough revenue to fund operations. HB 142 would exempt from transfer approximately $200,000/year in fines, court fees and costs received under the Dog Law. HB 142 passed the House and is now in the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
Pennsylvania – HB 526 / SB 232 are reintroductions of legislation from last session that seek to increase dog license fees to provide additional funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. As proposed, the legislation changes the dog licensing requirement from 12 age weeks to 8 weeks but eliminates differentiation between intact and spayed/neutered dogs. AKC GR and the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs met with the Bureau director regarding the proposed legislation. AKC GR was recently contacted regarding alternate language for the licensing requirement and recommended that it be kept at the current three months of age or older or upon transfer to a new owner, whichever comes first. Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement and the bill sponsors have indicated that they agree to the change. Both bills are in their respective chamber’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. AKC GR will continue the monitor these bills.
Pennsylvania – SB 234 seeks to establish a retail pet store ban in favor of showcasing shelter and rescue dogs for adoption. AKC GR met with the Senate staff to discuss the legislation and offer better alternatives than an outright ban. In both the meeting and follow up, AKC GR encouraged the sponsors to introduce enhanced consumer protection legislation that provides consumers with better information and protection irrespective of the source of dogs, including rescues and shelters which are currently exempt. AKC GR will continue to monitor the bill, which is pending in committee and likely will not be scheduled for a hearing or any committee action in the foreseeable future.
Pennsylvania – AKC GR has been working with State Senator Gene Yaw, on legislation to establish the Animal Welfare Board to review existing state laws and regulations related to the keeping and handling of animals. The Board is to be comprised of individuals representing various stakeholder organizations and representatives from the PA Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General’s office. Prior to the introduction of the bill, AKC GR met with the Senator’s staff to provide further suggestions to ensure appropriate stakeholders and experts are included on the board. As such, we suggested that the board include two members representing the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, ensuring that a kennel license holder was represented, and that an American Kennel Club representative was included. Further, to ensure the impact that we believe this Board could have, we suggested that it meet more frequently than the timeframe mentioned in the original draft. All of AKC GR’s suggestions have been included in the final draft which is now SB 907 and has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. AKC GR will continue to work with Senator Yaw’s office to encourage fast track passage of this legislation.
Rhode Island – SB 2227 has been re-filed by the Senate Minority Leader for consideration. This bill would authorize the court to appoint a student attorney or pro bono attorney in any civil or criminal case to represent an animal in the interests of justice. AKC GR and the Rhode Island ACLU will again testify in opposition to this bill as it would change the property legal status of animals and provide non-human legal rights instead.
Rhode Island – HB 6624 would establish an animal abuser registry that requires pet sellers to check the registry prior to transfer and face penalties for transferring an animal to a convicted abuser on the registry. This bill is a re-filed measure that AKC GR has previously expressed concerns with and did again via telephone to the House Judiciary Committee on January 25, 2022. It has been held for further study.
Rhode Island – HB 7021 would authorize the emergency treatment and transport of a police K9 injured in the line of duty. AKC GR supports this bill. It is scheduled for public hearing on February 3, 2022 before the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Rhode Island – H. 7088 would amend the district courts’ domestic violence protections to include pets in protection orders. We applaud this effort, particularly given the complex dilemma involving pets and domestic violence situations. However, AKC GR is concerned about the use of the word “custody” in H. 7088 and recommended on January 25, that the House Judiciary Committee reserve this legal term for children only.
Rhode Island – H. 7087 would create a court procedure for pets in divorce and separation proceedings based on the best interests of the animal. Long-standing legal traditions in the United States provide that pets are considered the legal property of their owners, under which their care and treatment is ensured. Last session, AKC GR worked with the bill sponsor to amend the predecessor bill by replacing “custody” with “possession or ownership”. AKC GR testified in support of H. 7087 to the House Judiciary Committee.
Rhode Island – HB 7360 would amend the definition of “domestic violence” to include (v) Coercive control of another, which is a pattern of behavior that in purpose or effect unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty; including committing or threatening to commit cruelty to animals that intimidates another. AKC GR submitted testimony in support of HB 7360 at the House Judiciary hearing on February 16, 2022. The sponsor has since withdrawn the bill to work on it further.
Rhode Island – HB 7305 would add the general agent of the Rhode Island society for the prevention of cruelty to animals and any special agents appointed by the society while enforcing any of the laws of this state in relation to cruelty of animals to the definition of peace officers. This is to clarify the role of these agents and AKC GR will monitor the bill.
Rhode Island – HB 7572 is a re-filed bill that would prohibit a person convicted of killing an animal or of unnecessary cruelty to animals amounting to torture from owning or exercising control of an animal for life. Violators would be subject to a fine of one thousand dollars ($1000) for each violation.
Rhode Island – HB 7573 would create a legal process by which formerly cohabitating parties could seek from the district court a determination as to ownership of any pet. Because it would change the legal status of animals as property, AKC GR opposes HB 7573.
South Carolina – H 3066 seeks to increase penalties for teasing, injuring or killing a police dog or horse. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.
South Carolina – H 3067 seeks to require that any second violation of the Chapter on Cruelty to Animals, which includes violations under which no animal is harmed, would require forfeiture of ownership of all animals and a prohibition from owning an animal for five years. H 3067 has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.
South Carolina – H 4094 contains problematic findings and seeks to restrict ownership of and require registration of fertile pit bull dogs with a governmental animal control agency. These requirements would apply to “American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers,” dogs displaying the physical traits of one or more of the listed breeds, or a dog exhibiting the distinguishing characteristics that conform to the standards established by the AKC for any of the breeds. AKC GR issued an alert and sent a letter of concern to subcommittee members. H 4094 appeared on the agenda of the House Special Laws Subcommittee, but was not considered during the 2021 session. It could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.
South Carolina – S 186 would remove certain exemptions for hunting dogs under state cruelty laws while protecting the use of recognized and responsible training techniques and devices. S 186 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
South Carolina – S 378 would increase penalties for teasing or injuring police dogs and horses, and provide that a person convicted must pay restitution for costs of restoring or replacing a police animal and complete 500 hours of community service. S 378 passed in the Senate and has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.
South Carolina – S 556 seeks to make changes to certain laws that govern trapping in the state. As introduced, this bill could have increased hazards for dogs whose owners participate in field trials, Coonhound events, hunting, and training for these sports, as well as hiking, wilderness camping, and other outdoor activities with dogs. The bill was favorably amended in committee to address certain concerns. It passed in the Senate and was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. Read AKC GR’s alert on S 556 as it was originally introduced.
Tennessee – HB 1646/SB 2013 seek to make it an offense to knowingly and unlawfully cause serious bodily injury to or kill a police dog, fire dog, search and rescue dog, service animal, or police horse without the owner’s effective consent. AKC GR supports this legislation, which continues to advance.
Tennessee –HB 1967/HB 1778 would provide that a county or municipality shall not adopt, enact, or enforce rules, regulations, resolutions, or ordinances relating to a specific breed of domesticated animal. While AKC GR supports this legislation in principle, concerns have been communicated that the bill is captioned to allow amendments that could affect eight sections of state law. AKC GR continues to monitor these bills
Tennessee – HB 547/SB 511 would require any person who, during a twelve-month period, possesses or maintains ten or more intact female adult dogs for the primary purpose of selling their offspring as household pets, to register with the Department of Commerce and Insurance. Registrants would be subject to inspections biennially and at the discretion of the commissioner, and rules and fees would be set by the commission. Registrants could not participate in organized or home-based dog rescue activities. AKC GR worked with sportsmen’s groups to oppose the bill, distributed information and talking points at Nashville-area dog shows, and met with key Senators prior to committee consideration. The bill was sent to “General Sub” in the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee, which means it has been put “on hold.” The Tennessee legislative session lasts two years, and therefore the bills remain active until the end of the 2022 session.
Tennessee – HB 1322 / SB 948 would require law enforcement agencies to annually report statistics and policies regarding police canine units to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) commission and require the POST commission to develop and implement state guidelines for the training, care, and use of police canine units for law enforcement purposes. AKC GR will continue to monitor this legislation.
Tennessee – A problematic amendment to HB 2034 was adopted by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on February 23. The amendment deleted several performance exceptions that would have allowed for safety tethering a dog, including while hunting, in a public recreational area, or during agricultural activities. The subcommittee retained the bill for further consideration, and it is on the subcommittee agenda for March 16, 2022. Read more about this bill.
Tennessee – SB 1788, failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would have enacted engineering standards and additional vague requirements for providing shelter for dogs, and would have made some responsible dog owners’ effective and humane care practices illegal. Read more about why AKC opposed SB 1788 as introduced.
Tennessee – HB 2860 / SB 2243 seek to make it an offense for a person to restrain a dog with a chain, cord, tether, cable, or similar device when a severe flooding or tornado warning, or a mandatory or voluntary evacuation order, is in effect for the geographic area where the dog is located. The bills are written so broadly that they could increase the risk of harm to a dog by prohibiting a person from “restraining” their dog to keep it safe and close by in conjunction with preparation to evacuate or during an evacuation with the dog. AKC GR sent a letter of concern and issued an alert on HB 2860, which is on the agenda of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee for March 16.
Texas– AKC continues to closely monitor developments on local issues in Texas. Thanks to these efforts AKC was made aware of the development of ordinances that could ban the retail sale of dogs at pet stores in multiple cities. New Braunfels and Dallas were considering a new ordinance related to sales at pet stores and the AKC submitted letters early on in the process urging them not to implement an outright prohibition on the sales of dogs at pet stores and those recommendations were well received by the city councils.
Utah – House Bill 175 would add a person’s pet to domestic violence protection orders and prohibit a person from taking, injuring, or threatening to injure a pet owned by the person possessing the protection order. This bill has passed both chambers.
Utah – House Bill 476 could protect dog shows, working dogs, and pet choice in the state. It protects “animal enterprises”, which is broadly defined as a “commercial or academic enterprise” that uses or sells animals for profit or exhibition, among many other uses. This includes animal competitions and exhibitions. It would also protect “working animals”, which includes animals “used for a specific function in commerce”, including education or exhibition. These broad terms would seem to protect working animals, including livestock guardian dogs, and animals used in exhibition or competition that generate commerce in the state. The bill would also protect legitimate retail pet stores from being shut down or restricted. This would have protected pet choice and consumer protection in the state. It passed the House but was held in the Senate.
Utah – Senate Bill 165 makes numerous changes to provisions regarding the care of animals, while allowing for “good animal husbandry practices.” Changes include clarifications regarding proper shelters, and a definition of adequate care, taking into consideration an animal’s species, age, and physical condition. The bill had a hearing in the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Agriculture Committee, but was ultimately held in committee.
Vermont – HB 504 would mandate the drafting of a report on which entities have what responsibilities for animal issues in the state and outline the consolidation of responsibilities under one entity that would provide uniform standards. The Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board submitted a report to the legislature last year and plans to work with this legislation to advance recommendations in their report. AKC GR and the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs plan to be involved.
Vermont – SB 155 would reorganize public safety services within the Executive Branch and create the Agency of Public Safety to oversee functions, including provision of administrative support to the Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board. Last session, Vermont charged this board with providing training and certification to animal control officers in the state. AKC GR supports this work.
Vermont – HB 250 would impose a strict liability standard for injury caused by domestic dogs. More than 30 states have this standard. The House Committee on Judiciary is reviewing the measure.
Vermont – HB 622 would require the Office of Professional Regulation to license service dog trainers that provide service dog training services to individuals with a disability. AKC GR is monitoring this bill.
Washington, D.C. – Proposal B 24-0560, known as the “Animal Care and Control Omnibus Act” would institute bond for care in the District, wherein an owner could potentially lose their dogs if they do not pay boarding and other costs of care during an ongoing investigation – even if they are ultimately found not guilty. It would also ban the retail sale of pets at pet stores, unless the dogs are sourced from shelters or rescues. This would limit pet choice and consumer protection and makes the clear statement that shelters and rescues are the best place to obtain an animal. AKC has expressed concerns with both of these provisions. The proposal was considered by the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on February 28. Comments were accepted until March 14. Read more.