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Taking Command Newsletter

State Issues May 2021

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

Alabama – HB 235 would authorize food service establishments to allow pet dogs in outdoor restaurant seating areas and sets out access, sanitation, and other requirements. It also specifies that emotional support animals are not service animals within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act and are prohibited from being inside a restaurant. HB 235 has passed in the House and in the Senate committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development. AKC GR and advocates are working to support this bill. Read more.

Alabama – HB 551 seeks to establish limitations and requirements for tethering a dog. A violation would be the crime of animal cruelty. HB 551 is assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. Read more.     

AlabamaSB 353, a bill supported by AKC GR, seeks to exempt gross proeeds from the sale or lease of detection dogs from rental, sales, and use taxes in Alabama, has been indefinitely postponed in the Senate. Read more.

Arkansas – HB 1152 allows the emergency transport of an injured police dog if there is no person requiring immediate medical attention or transport at the time, limit liability of the transporter, and allow a court to require the person that caused the injury to be responsible for costs of emergency transport. AKC GR supported HB 1152, which was enacted as Act 790. Read AKC GR’s alert on this bill.        

Arkansas – HB 1883, which was supported by AKC GR, guarantees the right to utilize a working animal. It also provides that an ordinance or resolution shall not be enacted by a municipality that terminates, bans, or creates an undue hardship relating to the job or use of a working animal or animal enterprise in commerce, service, legal hunting, agriculture, husbandry, transportation, ranching, entertainment, education, or exhibition. HB 1883 was enacted at Act 1091Read AKC GR’s most recent alert on HB 1883.

CaliforniaAB 702 would have required a breeder permit for anyone who breeds a dog in the state, including complying with numerous regulations, obtaining a business license, and only breeding dogs between 2 and 7 years of age. AKC issued numerous alerts to encourage Californians to join us in opposing this bill and had several meetings with the author’s office, and key committee members and staff.  The author pulled the bill from consideration and it will not be considered before January 2022.  AKC GR has issued a follow up alert to clubs with actions they can take to thank the committee and help AKC lay groundwork for 2022 advocacy and education.

ColoradoHB 21-1102 as introduced sought to regulate pet stores in the state and not allow any new pet stores to open. As introduced, the bill contained legislative findings claiming that rescues were a better answer for public safety, as pet stores import dogs from out of state.  AKC and its state federation succeeded in educating House members about the many inaccuracies with this statement and the problems that have surfaced regarding importation by rescues. As amended, the bill has addressed some concerns and removed these legislative findings.  The bill would also allow pet stores to continue to exist, so long as certain information is disclosed online and on all cages in the store.  The bill as amended was signed by the governor.

Colorado – A proposed 2022 ballot referendum would amend current animal cruelty laws and no longer allow certain humane animal husbandry practices, including artificial insemination.  It is possible that petitions will begin circulating this summer in support of the ballot initiative.  AKC and our state federation have joined livestock and other animal groups in opposing the proposal.  Read AKC’s blog for more information. 

Connecticut –HB 6318 would update Connecticut’s statutes to align with federal service animal definitions and requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It also would educate the public regarding the differences between service, emotional support, and therapy animals and raise awareness about the rights and responsibilities of these animal owners. AKC GR submitted testimony in support. The House passed the bill and it is now on the Senate calendar waiting for a vote.

Connecticut – HB 6504 would require a veterinary examination of animals brought into the state by animal shelters, among other helpful provisions. AKC GR issued an alert and testified in support of it. On April 14, 2021, it was added to the House calendar and a vote is pending.

Connecticut – SB 123 would increase the penalties for injuring or killing a police K-9 or volunteer search and rescue K-9. AKC GR supports the bill, and it was voted favorably by the Joint Public Safety Committee on March 4, 2021.  AKC GR posted an update urging supportive emails as the bill is now on the Senate calendar.

Connecticut – SB 923 would require the Connecticut Sentencing Commission to review the state’s animal cruelty laws and make recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly. AKC and the Connecticut Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (CFDRDO) are concerned that members of the commission do not have animal welfare experience. Testimony was submitted by AKC GR and CFDRDO, consistent with that of the Department of Agriculture, requesting collaboration with the department and subject matter experts. AKC GR had a phone call with the Executive Director of the commission to discuss the scope of such a review and secured a commitment to obtain input from animal welfare subject matter experts such as AKC and CFDRDO.  The bill has passed the Senate and is now on the House calendar for a vote. 

Delaware – AKC GR was contacted by Senator Trey Paradee for assistance with legislation to establish a certification/licensing program for groomers operating in Delaware. AKC GR provided Senator Paradee with information on the AKC S.A.F.E. Grooming Certification Program and draft legislation for the establishment of a certification/licensing program based on the program or a similar type of certification program. Senator Paradee is currently reviewing the draft legislation and working with the Attorney General to develop penalty language.  Due to other legislative issues relative to COVID-19, Senator Paradee will likely hold for introduction next session. 

FloridaSB 72, which provides certain protections to business entities from civil liability claims related to COVID-19, was enacted as Chapter 2021-1.

Florida – HB 45,which sought to prohibit pet stores from selling dogs and cats, died in the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee. Similar bill SB 1138 died in the Senate Agriculture, Commerce, and Tourism Committee. 

Florida – HB 47 / SB 216 sought to make the failure to report suspected animal cruelty grounds for disciplinary action for veterinarians, vet techs, and other “animal treatment provider employees” (which would include shelter personnel) and provide certain immunities from liability for good faith reporting. HB 49 / SB 218 sought to exempt from public records requirements (and from public oversight) all records containing reports of animal cruelty made by veterinarians, vet techs, and “animal treatment provider employees.” HB 47 and HB 49 were assigned to the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee. SB 216 and SB 218 had numerous committee referrals.  All four bills died in their respective committees. 

Florida – HB 177 / SB 650 sought to prohibit tethering a dog or cat unless the person is physically present with and attending the animal and it remains visible to the person at all times while tethered, with certain exceptions. HB 177 died in the House Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee. SB 650 passed unanimously in the Senate Agriculture Committee, then died in the Senate Community Affairs Committee. 

Florida –  HB 731 and similar bill SB 1122 sought to problematically define “adequate shelter” and make failure to provide adequate shelter an animal cruelty offense. HB 731 died in the House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee. SB 1122 died in the Senate Agriculture Committee. 

Florida HB 1003 / SB 1316, among other provisions, sought to provide for appointment of an advocate for the interests of an animal in certain court proceedings, at the discretion of the court. HB 1003 died in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee.  SB 1316 died in the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. 

FloridaHB 1405 / SB 1810 sought to create a program to provide care for retired law enforcement dogs. AKC GR supported this legislation as introduced. HB 1405 was reported favorably by the House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee, then died in the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. SB 1810 passed in Senate committees, then died in Senate Appropriations. AKC GR wrote letters of support for SB 1810. 

Florida – AKC GR requested amendments to SB 96, a child welfare bill that, among other provisions, requires certain cross-reporting of suspected child abuse, abandonment or neglect, and animal cruelty. The bill problematically included a provision that would have changed the definition of “animal husbandry” to exclude care of non-livestock animals. SB 96 was substantially amended and has passed in both chambers without the problematic animal husbandry definition.

Florida – SB 388 authorizes emergency transport of and allows a paramedic or EMT to provide emergency medical care to a police canine injured in the line of duty under certain circumstances and when no individual requires transport or care at that time. SB 388 has been transmitted to the governor for signature, and will go into effect on July 1, 2021. AKC GR thanks the sponsors of SB 388 and companion bill HB 697 for their work on this legislation during the current and prior sessions.

Georgia – HB 112 seeks to extend the applicability for one year of a 2020 Act, supported by AKC GR, that provides certain immunities from liability claims regarding COVID-19. HB 112 is now Act 175.  

GeorgiaHB 574 addresses disposition of fees related to licenses for pet dealers, kennels, stables, and animal shelters and creates a fund for reimbursement of certain expenses incurred by local governments. The current version of the bill does not include provisions to increase fees paid by licensees. The bill passed in both chambers and has been sent to the Governor. 

Illinois – House Bill 1711 seeks to ban the retail sale of pets in pet stores in the state, and to prevent any rescue affiliated with a breeder to source to a pet store. AKC GR and its state federation are opposing this bill, which limits pet choice and implies that a rescue is the best place to get a dog. HB 1711 has passed the House and is pending assignment in the Senate.  An identical bill was held in the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this session.  

Illinois – House Bill 3971 contains new regulations requested by the state department of agriculture for those defined as commercial breeders (those with 5 or more intact females).  AKC has been in contact with the sponsor to suggest some minor amendments to these reasonable regulations, which was considered in committee on April 13.

Illinois – Senate Bill 153 would provide a court-appointed advocate to represent the interests of animals in a case involving the injury, health, or safety of a dog or cat. AKC is opposing this bill, as there is the potential for legal confusion about who will be ultimately responsible for making decisions impacting animals if an advocate participates in a case. AKC GR has also asked for an amendment to protect the legal status of animals as property.  This bill passed the Senate and narrowly passed the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee on May 13.  Read more.

Illinois – Senate Bill 1672 as amended prohibits insurers of certain types of property liability insurance from denying or canceling a policy based solely on the breed owned by the policy holder.  In addition, all insurance companies impacted by the bill must file an annual report with the state that includes the list of breeds they will not insure.  The bill is pending in the Senate Insurance Committee.  

Louisiana – HB 177 would reenact provisions under current law that require public or private animal shelters to have a dog or cat sterilized prior to adoption or enter into an agreement with the adopter have it sterilized by a Louisiana licensed veterinarian. The bill additionally seeks to authorize certain students of veterinary schools, under certain conditions, to perform these sterilization procedures. HB 177 passed in the House and has been received in the Senate.

Louisiana – HB 223 seeks to define proper shelter for a dog as an upright, weather resistant structure with three walls, an opening, a roof, and a floor; free of waste and standing water; and of sufficient in size for an animal to stand in an upright position, turn around, and make normal posturing positions. It would exclude animal carriers, plastic crates, and other enclosures designed to provide temporary housing.  HB 223 was reported with amendments by the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice. It was scheduled for floor debate on 4/27, then returned to the calendar.

Louisiana – HB 231, among other provisions, seeks to amend provisions under current law that require the disposal of dogs seized in conjunction with an accusation of dog fighting and allows appointment of a custodian to individually assess each dog to determine of the dog is suitable for placement. HB 231 passed in the House and has been received in the Senate.

Louisiana – HB 409, which seeks to address campus safety and accountability and require reporting of certain abuses against a student, includes in the definition of stalking two or more acts of threatening a person’s pet. HB 409 passed in the House and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education.

Louisiana – HB 605, among other provisions, seeks to levy sales and use tax on veterinary services and animal boarding services. HB 605 has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Louisiana – SB 144 seeks to enact the crime of unlawful possession, transfer or manufacture of animal fighting paraphernalia. The bill, as currently amended, contains sufficient protections for the legal use of equipment defined as animal fighting paraphernalia and specifies that it does not prohibit the training of animals or the use of equipment in the training of animals for any purpose not prohibited by law. SB 144 passed in the Senate and has been referred to the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice. 

Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture has filed an omnibus bill, LD 103, that would allow it to employ any person considered necessary to assist in any response to a natural or man-made disaster affecting animals; appoint to the Animal Welfare Advisory Council a person who is a pet food supplier and an attorney with experience in the state court system; and change the rabies vaccination requirement for a dog over 3 months of age instead of 6 months. The bill also provides for the revocation of animal control officer certification if the officer refuses or intentionally fails to perform the officer’s statutory duties. AKC GR and the Maine Federation of Dog Clubs spoke to the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to express concerns with the rabies vaccination requirement at 3 months.  An amendment providing an additional 30 days after a puppy turns 3 months to get the initial rabies vaccination was adopted before the committee favorably released the bill.  Concerns exist among dog owners that getting timely veterinarian appointments is currently a challenge due to the pandemic. The bill has passed both the House and the Senate.

Maine – LD 1265 would remove the permission for hunting dogs to be at large; and prohibit hunting coyote at night or with dogs or bait.  AKC GR issued an alert and testified before the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in opposition together with sportsmen and women.  The committee voted unanimously the bill ought not to pass. 

Maryland – Cross-filed legislation entitled “Unattended Dogs in Extreme Weather” had been working its way through the House and Senate. HB 81 and SB 122 included exemptions for hunting, livestock herding, sledding, sporting, or training as supported by AKC GR in 2020. AKC GR attempted to work with bill sponsors to have acclimation added as an exemption for persons who are humanely acclimating their dogs to weather in order to perform certain tasks, but they refused. Additionally, AKC GR was seeking an amendment to ensure that dogs that cannot meet absolute temperatures listed in the bill are exempted by including the phrase: “or in accordance with the age, breed, general health, or condition of the dog and its ability to withstand the environment.” HB 81 passed the House as introduced and was assigned to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee where it received no further action. SB 122 was heard by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee but Senator Michael Hough asked that it be held pending amendments. AKC GR was working with Senator Hough to have SB 122 or HB 81, whichever one moved in the committee, favorably amended.  Neither bill was given further committee consideration before the end of the 2021 Legislative Session.  AKC GR will be working with Senator Michael Hough on having a bill introduced next session that excludes language related to temperature.

Maryland HB 293 and SB 200 are reintroductions of legislation from last session. As introduced last session, the bill sought to prohibit a person from sponsoring, conducting, or participating in certain organized contests that have the objective of hunting or killing certain wildlife for prizes or monetary awards. The bill would have negatively impacted field trials and other American Kennel Club sanctioned events. AKC GR and the Sportsmen Alliance worked to amend the bill to exclude lawful dog training or dog competition events. HB 293 and SB 200 were introduced this year with the amended language included. Both bills passed their respective chambers with different fine amounts.  A conference committee was held and a compromise on fine per animal amount was reached.  HB 293 was passed by both Chambers with the compromise and AKC’s amendment included and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Maryland – HB 1080 / SB 760 are cross-filed bills that 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. The bills limit costs to $15 a day per animal plus reasonable costs for necessary veterinary care and provides for forfeiture of the animal for failure to make the required payment. AKC GR has met with both the House and Senate sponsors to express concerns that the bills allow for the forfeiture of animals with no mechanism to have them returned to an individual who is found not guilty or has charges dropped. GR also provided written and oral testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in opposition of the bills as written at the House hearing on March 4 and at the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on March 10. Neither bill received anymore consideration from their respective committees prior to the end of the 2021 Legislative Session.

Maryland SB 103 is a reintroduction of legislation from last session which originally sought to regulate the Internet sales of animals by pet stores. The original language concerned many who use Facebook or other social media “brag” pages to showcase their dogs and puppies for sale.  AKC GR worked with the sponsor to have the bill amended and all references to Internet sales were removed. It further clarified that a pet store does not include situations where animals are sold at establishments where they were bred, and the buyer and seller are both present during the sale or transfer. SB 103 was introduced this session with the same amended language from last session. SB 103 has passed the Senate and has been assigned to the House Economic Matters Committee where it was amended to include a task force to studying the sourcing of pets used by pet stores and broker entities.  AKC representation would be included on the task force.  The bill passed both Chambers as amended and awaits the Governor’s signature.

MassachusettsHD 326 would authorize the emergency transport and treatment of police K-9s injured in the line of duty. AKC GR issued an alert asking Massachusetts residents to contact their lawmakers and request that they co-sponsor the bill. Representative Xiarhos’ office reports a resulting significant number of signatures. In addition, Senator Montigny has also re-filed the bill in the Senate, SD 1177.  Supporters are meeting virtually on May 17, 2021 to discuss a plan of action.

Minnesota – AKC supports both House File 568 and Senate File 952 that would allow certified emergency medical personnel to provide emergency medical care to injured police dogs. HF 568 was considered by the House Health Finance and Police Committee on March 12, and remains pending in the committee. SF 952 is currently on second reading after passing both the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee and the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Finance and Policy Committee. Click here for more information.

Minnesota – House File 1137 seeks to modify the membership of the state’s Board of Animal Health. Currently, the Board is comprised of five members appointed by the governor, three of whom are livestock producers and two who are practicing veterinarians licensed in Minnesota.  HF 1137 would expand the number of members to nine. Seven members would be regional members (with no two regional members residing in the same congressional district) and two would be at-large. The bill also requires that appointments to the board must achieve gender balance, and that members must be knowledgeable in animal agriculture, animal health, or pets and companion animals. Click here to read more.  

Minnesota – House File 2086 seeks to modify the use of certain traps used in hunting, and would require the reporting of pets or companion animals found caught in the traps. The bill has been referred to the Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee, but has not been scheduled for consideration. Concerned owners and enthusiasts are encouraged to contact their state representative and express their thoughts on the legislation. Click here for more information.   

Missouri – House Bill 365 and Senate Bill 107 would prohibit cities and counties – even those with home rule – from enacting any breed-specific laws. It would also make any current local breed-specific laws null and void. Local governments may still enact policies regarding dogs so long as they are not breed-specific. AKC and its state federation are supporting these bills.  House Bill 365 passed the House Local Government Committee on February 25 and is pending in the Senate Administrative Rules Committee. Senate Bill 107 passed the Senate Local Government Committee on March 3.

Missouri – House Bill 589 as introduced would make several changes to protect dogs and the rights of dog owners when animals are seized on suspicion of neglect or abuse. The purpose of the bill is to ensure that the accused are innocent until proven guilty, and to protect dogs that are seized and held during a trial. AKC and its state federation support this bill, which passed the House of Representatives and is currently pending a vote on the Senate.

Missouri –House Bill 647 would ensure that no local government enacts any regulation “that terminates, bans, or effectively bans by creating undue financial hardship, the job or use of working animals or an enterprise employing working animals.” As introduced, “working animal” is defined as “any animal used for the purpose of performing a specific duty or function including entertainment, transportation, education, or exhibition by for-profit and not-for-profit entities.” AKC and its state federation are supporting this bill, which was placed on the House floor calendar on May 3.

Nebraska – LB 139 would exempt persons from liability for COVID exposure unless there is evidence of gross negligence. As with LB 52, AKC GR is monitoring this bill for potential impact on AKC events. The bill had a public hearing in the Judiciary Committee on February 18. While it has not yet advanced, it is still listed as a priority bill for the session.  Read more.

New Hampshire – On February 3, 2021, AKC GR testified with NH DOGS in support of HB 249, which would authorize animal shelters to own or lease a facility rather than be required to own it. It also clarifies which exemptions apply to animal shelters for obtaining health certificates and requires that shelters contact the microchip owner of record before any transfer of the animal. The House Environment and Agriculture Committee amended and unanimously voted to favorably release the bill on February 18, 2021. Read AKC GR’s alert. It has passed the House and been sent to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and AKC GR testified in support.

New Hampshire – Prior to enactment of a 2019 law, a commercial breeder in the state who transferred fewer than 50 dogs in a year was not required to get municipal zoning authorization as a prerequisite for state licensure. However, in 2019, legislation was enacted that removed the state’s definition of commercial breeder and classified a person as a pet vendor if they transfer 25 dogs in a 12-month period. The 2019 change required all applicants for a pet vendor license to obtain municipal zoning authorization. As a result of this legislative change, several dog breeders that were previously licensed were not granted municipal zoning authorization and have been unable to obtain the state’s new pet vendor license. This has resulted in the violation of due process for those dog breeders. HB 250 seeks to address these issues by (1) raising the minimum transfer threshold to 35 dogs, and (2) “grandfathering” those breeders who were not previously required to petition local authorities for authorization before obtaining a state license so they will not need local authorization before applying to operate as a pet vendor. In early February, AKC GR and the New Hampshire Dog Owners of the Granite State testified in support of HB 250 in the House Environment and Agriculture Committee.  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee amended the bill by lowering the dog transfer threshold to 30 and voted it favorably. The bill passed the Senate on May 13. 

New Hampshire – To deter dog theft and illegal tampering with tracking dog collars, HB 338 would increase the penalty from a misdemeanor offense to a class B felony. AKC GR testified in support of this bill on February 10, 2021. In March, the committee released an amended bill that would increase the penalty each time an individual stole a dog from a criminal misdemeanor through a class A felony for a third offense. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard from AKC GR and others in support, then amended the House passed bill by increasing the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony after two offenses and preserving the penalty for illegally tampering with tracking dog collars.  The bill has been voted favorably by the Senate committee and NH DOGS is comfortable with this change.The bill passed the Senate on May 13. 

New Hampshire – Two amended bills regarding the creation of a state-wide animal records database continue to move. AKC GR and NH DOGS expressed concerns about HB 532 to the House Environment and Agriculture Committee when it considered the bill in late January. The committee favorably released an amended version of the bill that addressed AKC’s and NH DOGS’ concerns. HB 532 was later considered by the House Ways and Means Committee, during which AKC GR explained the rationale for the changes.  Read more about HB 532 here.  House Ways and Means worked with Representatives to insert the committee’s amended text in the House budget, HB 2, which has passed and been sent to Senate Finance.  Meanwhile, in early February, the Senate Finance Committee hosted a hearing on SB 127, an appropriations bill that also featured the unamended animal records database text of HB 532. During the hearing, AKC GR requested that the committee adopt the same changes as were made to the House bill. The Senate Finance Committee responded favorably to the requests from AKC GR, NH DOGS, and New Hampshire dog owners by adopting an amended version of SB 127 that largely reflects the acceptable animal records database text adopted by the House.  The Senate and House Finance Committees are now working on budget negotiations and will resolve the differences in text.  

New Hampshire – SB 17 would, among provisions, authorize municipalities to adopt ordinances permitting dogs outside at brew pubs. AKC supports this provision and submitted testimony on March 23, 2021, to the House Commerce and Consumer Protection committee.  The committee has an executive session scheduled for May 13, 2021 to vote on the bill. 

New Hampshire – SB 122 would, among other provisions, increase the penalties from a misdemeanor to a felony for a person who injures or kills; or allow their animal to injure or kill, a working service dog.  AKC GR submitted testimony in support. Subsequently, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary voted favorably to release an amended bill that preserves this section.  The bill has passed the Senate and is being reviewed by the House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.

New Hampshire – SB 110 would allow only a citizen given permission by law enforcement officer and with a witness present to open a motor vehicle and release an animal in heat distress.  These protections are the result of AKC GR’s advocacy with the bill sponsor and identification of concerns, such as theft, last session.  The bill was approved by the Senate, but the House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety has voted it inexpedient to legislate.

New Jersey – AB 1365 would prohibit the “harassing or taking” of wildlife at competitive events. The intent of similar legislation introduced in other states is to prohibit contests during which the goal is the killing of the most wildlife. However, the wording of AB 1365 could impact clubs offering AKC-sanctioned performance events in New Jersey, including those that offer sporting, hound, earthdog, and herding events. Due to AKC requesting clarifying amendments to AB 1365, the bill was pulled from an Assembly Agriculture Committee hearing in January, but could return.  Click here to read more.   

New Jersey – SB 975, which seeks to establish animal trunk fighting as an animal cruelty offense, was approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee in October, and has been further referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Read more.

 New Jersey – SB 2868 seeks to establish a courtroom advocates (aka, “Lawyers for Dogs”) program in the state. The bill features board language that will likely impact the legal classification of animals in the state. The bill has passed the Senate and has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. AKC is actively opposing SB 2868, and is working with a coalition of interest groups in opposition. Read more.

New York – As with previous sessions, dozens of bills impacting dog owners have been introduced in New York. AKC GR is reviewing these bills and has had meetings with the offices of both the Assembly and Senate Agriculture Chairs, where the majority of these bills have been assigned. Visit for the latest alerts and information.

New York – Assembly Bill 4075 prohibits insurers from refusing to issue, renew or cancel or raise premiums for homeowner’s insurance based on breed of dog (or mixed-breed) owned by the policyholder. The bill does allow for insurance companies to take these actions if any dog (regardless of breed) has been declared dangerous based on current law, so long as these actions are based on “sound underwriting and actuarial principles” that are reasonably related to actual or anticipated loss.  Residents are encouraged to call their Assemblymember in support of this bill.  Read more.

New York – Senate Bill 1130 and Assembly Bill 4283 would ban the retail sale of pets in pet stores in New York State.  AKC GR and its state federation are opposing these bills and have issued alerts, communications to both the Assembly and Senate, submitted an op-ed, and provided talking points for lawmakers supporting AKC’s position.  Both bills are pending in the Assembly Codes Committee and may be considered very soon.  Read more.  

North Carolina – The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board (NCVMB) has indicated the intention to have legislation filed in 2021 to require that third-party breeder services enterprises (e.g. artificial insemination) be operated only by licensed veterinarians. Available proposal language is vague and could restrict responsible breeders from performing or obtaining AIs on their dogs. It would also potentially impact breeders by closing down the three canine reproductive centers in the state that are not veterinarian owned. AKC GR is working with policymakers and impacted stakeholders in response to the NCVMB’s proposal.

North Carolina – House Bill 849 would prohibit pet leasing in the state.  As introduced, it includes a portion of AKC’s position statement on pet leasing.  It also includes exemptions requested by AKC GR for breeding, stud dogs, etc.  The bill was introduced on May 4 and assigned to multiple committees.

Oklahoma – Senate Bill 547 would remove the current requirement that commercial breeders (those who keep 11 or more intact females) provide an annual report to the state’s department of agriculture. AKC GR is monitoring this bill, which passed the Senate on March 2 and the House Wildlife Committee on April 8. Read more.

Pennsylvania HB 526 / SB 232 are reintroductions of legislation from last session that seek to increase dog license fees to increase funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. As proposed, the legislation changes the licensing requirement from 12 weeks to 8 weeks, but eliminates differentiation between intact and spayed/neutered. AKC GR and the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs met with Kristen Donmoyer, Director PA BDLE, regarding the proposed dog license fee increase legislation. 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.  After a press conference was held on the bill, AKC GR submitted an op-ed to the three news outlets – Allentown Morning Call, Easton Express Times, York Daily Record – which covered the press event for publication.  The Op-Ed has appeared in the Allentown Morning Call and a sister publication of the York Daily Record.  As a result of the Op-Ed, the bill’s main sponsors requested to meeting with AKC GR to discuss the AKC’s opposition to the legislation.  In the meeting and via follow up, AKC GR shared better alternatives to the bill and encouraged the sponsors to introduced enhanced consumer protection legislation that provides consumers with better information and protection from all sources of obtaining dogs, including rescues and shelters which are currently exempt from current Pennsylvania law.  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 is working with the sponsor of a bill introduced late last session, SB 1267, that seeks to a create a Task Force to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based plan for animal welfare laws through a collaboration between veterinarians, doctors, state agencies, and concerned legislators. The bill will likely be reintroduced prior to the Legislature’s summer recess.  AKC GR is working to ensure that AKC, the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, and a breeder based in Pennsylvania are included on the Task Force.

Rhode Island – SB 319 was introduced in May and would authorize an officer to hold an animal rescued from a motor vehicle for dangerous conditions up to 72 hours or until a court arraignment could be scheduled.  At the court hearing, permanent custody could be awarded to another.  AKC GR submitted written testimony noting that leaving an animal in an unattended motor vehicle may present a danger but, as an unintentional act it may not warrant the loss of one’s property rights without a proper trial and finding of guilt. 

Rhode Island – SB 308 would increase the fines and penalties for a violator of the animal cruelty laws when committed in the presence of a minor.

Rhode Island – SB 309 would amend the animal cruelty statute to add a new subsection banning ownership of animals for life if convicted of killing or torturing an animal.

Rhode Island – A late filed bill, HB 6283 would establish a process for the donation of unused medications for use by nonprofit, state and local facilities by owners of animals. 

Rhode Island – Re-filed from 2019, HB 5040 would establish an animal cruelty registry prohibiting offenders from owning animals in the future by requiring pet sellers and shelters to review the registry before transferring an animal. Violations would result in significant fines.  AKC GR joined the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union to testify at the February 9, 2021 hearing and expressed concerns that registries have been found ineffective at preventing animal cruelty, and instead and encouraged the committee to consider using more effective tools. The committee has held the bill for further study.

Rhode Island – On March 10, 2021, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on HB 5569, which would allow the district court to include pets in a temporary protective order for domestic violence victims. The family court has this authority already. AKC GR submitted testimony in support of this measure to protect pets from violence in domestic situations.  The committee has held the bill for further study. 

Rhode Island – HB 5577 would authorize court-appointed legal advocates for animals. Appointing lawyers for animals “in the interests of justice” implies animals have legal non-human rights. AKC GR issued an alert and testified in opposition to the bill. The House committee has retained the bill to review it further. On March 4, the Senate President introduced identical bill SB 534, and the Senate Minority Leader introduced another companion bill, SB 601. AKC GR developed a fact sheet, and Rhode Island dog clubs and members are contacting their lawmakers to express opposition to these bills.  AKC GR has reached out to other affected stakeholders such as the Department of Environmental Management, Attorney General and the Rhode Island Supreme Court.  After issuing an alert, AKC GR joined the Providence County Kennel Club President and Rhode Island Kennel Club Legislative Liaison testifying in opposition at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on May 6, 2021.  Also in opposition, are the RI American Civil Liberties Union and the RI court system.  Senate legal counsel has contacted AKC GR and a meeting with the Senate President, sponsor of S. 534, has again been requested.

Rhode Island – HB 5580, would authorize courts to use criteria for child custody disputes in awarding custody of a pet upon the dissolution of marriage. AKC GR submitted written testimony in opposition to courts using criteria governing child custody disputes for animals.  The committee has held the bill for further study.

Rhode Island – HB 5617 would place a lifetime ban on the possession of animals for anyone convicted of serious animal cruelty. Testimony was submitted for the March 3, 2021 hearing by the House Judiciary Committee noting the bill fails to address how the convicted would be monitored for the duration of their lifetime. The bill may also unintentionally remove a tool judges have to obtain agreement to engage in mental health counseling by a defendant whose conduct was the result of mental illness.  The committee has held the bill for further study.

Rhode Island – HB 5736 would ban tethering a dog outside for more than 30 minutes when the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. AKC GR testified in opposition before the House Judiciary Committee on March 9, 2021, because current law provides that animal control officers may address any weather situation where a dog might be at risk of harm. Adding specific temperatures to the law could diminish protections for any breed that tolerates only moderate climates and punish owners of breeds that thrive in lower temperatures.  The committee has held the bill for further study.

South Carolina  H 3066 would increase penalties for teasing, injuring or killing a police dog or horse. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. 

South Carolina  H 3067 would require that any second violation of the Chapter on Cruelty to Animals, which include violations under which no animal is harmed, would forfeit ownership of all animals and be prohibited from owning an animal for five years. It has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

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. Distinguishing characteristics would include “a broad or flat head with high set attentive ears and wide jaw, whip like tail that is thick at the base and tapered at the tip, strong and muscular shoulders with blades wide and sloping, well-muscled hind quarters, and almond shaped eyes.” H 4094 was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary, where it has appeared on the agenda but has not yet been considered.  Read AKC’s alert on HB 4094. 

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 CarolinaS 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 has 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 361 / SB 310 as, introduced, would have allowed governmental animal control agencies to enter abandoned property and dwellings without a warrant to rescue non-livestock animals. HB 361 was favorably amended to require a valid search warrant, judicially recognized exception to the warrant requirement, or the property owner’s consent, and passed in the House as amended. SB 310, unamended, failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Read AKC GR’s alert on HB 361.

TennesseeHB 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. SB 511 was sent to “General Sub” in the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee on March 17, 2021, which means the bill has been put “on hold” and is very unlikely to be considered again in 2021. The Tennessee legislative session lasts two years, and therefore the bills remain active until end of session in 2022. Read AKC GR’s legislative alert on SB 511 and update on the 3/17/21 action in committee. AKC GR will continue to monitor these bills. 

Tennessee – HB 726 sought to require the relative of a pet’s deceased owner to retrieve the animal from an animal control agency within seven days or else the animal would be considered abandoned. SB 726 failed in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. 

Tennessee HB 733 / SB 166 would amend the definition of aggravated animal cruelty. Both chambers concurred on HB 733, as amended 

TennesseeHB 803 / SB 903, among other provisions, would increase penalties for offenses against more than nine non-livestock animals. This type of legislation is sometimes referred to as “multiple spilled water bowls equal a felony” bills. HB 803 was deferred to the Special Calendar of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. SB 903 has been assigned to the General Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

TennesseeHB 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. Action was deferred on these bills until 2022.

Texas – House Bill 543 seeks to restrict political subdivisions in the state, including counties and municipalities, from imposing requirements that ban the use of working animals. AKC supports HB 543, which was considered by the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee on March 18. The bill remains pending in the committee. Click here for more information.   

Texas – AKC supports House Bill 604, which seeks to require animal shelters and releasing agencies, including animal rescue organizations, to scan an animal for a microchip as soon as practicable after the animal is placed in their custody. The bill has passed the House and is currently pending in the Senate Local Government Committee.  Click here for more information.   

Texas – Amended House Bill 652 would require animal shelters to provide notice to each person who adopts an animal from the shelter if the animal was or may have been exposed to a bodily fluid of another animal in the shelter that was diagnosed with bordetella, distemper, kennel cough, leptospirosis, parvovirus, or rabies, and the shelter learns of the exposure within 15 days before or after the owner acquires the animal.  The bill has passed the House.  Click here for more information on HB 652.

Texas – House Bill 873 and Senate Bill 474 are two of several tethering bills that have been introduced in the Texas Legislature in 2021. The bill seeks to rewrite the state’s current tethering law. AKC GR does not oppose HB 873 as substituted or SB 474 as favorably substituted by the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, and will continue monitoring developments with both. Click here to read more on HB 873.   

Texas – AKC supports House Bill 1677, which seeks to direct the State Preservation Board to establish a Texas Police Service Animals Memorial Monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol. A substituted version of the bill was approved full House on April 7 and is pending in the Senate Administration Committee.  

Texas – Amended House Bill 1818 seeks to limit pet stores that are located in counties of more than 200,000 residents to sourcing dogs from only: (1) an animal control agency, (2) an animal shelter, or (3) an animal rescue organization. The bill was approved by the House on April 28. AKC continues to oppose this bill. Click here for more information.   

Texas – SB 323 seeks to expand the scope of the state’s Licensed Breeder Program by reducing the threshold that qualifies a breeder to be regulated. Currently, a breeder must possess 11 or more adult intact female dogs or cats (in addition to other qualifications) to be subject to state regulation. SB 323 seeks to reduce that threshold to five or more adult intact females, which would make many more of AKC’s hobby breeders subject to state regulation. Additionally, the bill would eliminate the annual sales requirement that qualifies a breeder to be regulated. The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation would be required to review the fee amounts it currently sets for licensees and increase the amounts to cover the costs of administering the Licensed Breeders Program. While AKC’s lobbyist has indicated SB 323 will not advance, AKC GR is prepared to mobilize grassroots contacts to oppose SB 323 should it get any traction.

Vermont – HB 316 would clarify that a hunter training dogs or using dogs to hunt black bear must retain visual and verbal control over the dogs while hunting. This is in response to two serious bear hunting dog attacks of people hiking. It has been forwarded to the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife for review.  On March 30 and 31, 2021, the committee heard testimony from invited guests on this bill and three others with impact on hunting and sporting activities.  HB 167 would change the composition and role of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife board; HB 172 would ban bear hunting with dogs and create a nuisance wildlife trapping license and HB 411 would enact wildlife wanton waste restrictions.  AKC GR submitted written testimony to the committee in response to questions about dog owner liability during their deliberations and issued an alert to Vermont clubs.

Vermont – The House Agriculture Committee released HB 421, which would provide training and oversight for animal control officers. The House of Representatives voted favorably and sent the bill to the Senate for consideration on March 12, 2021. AKC GR supports the bill and worked closely with the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs to advocate the adoption of an amendment further narrowing the definition of “humane societies”.  AKC GR and the Federation are grateful to the Senate Agriculture and Forestry committee for adopting this amendment prior to passing the bill in the Senate.  On May 7, 2021, the House of Representatives agreed with the Senate’s version and passed it.

Washington – HB 1424 seeks to further regulate pet stores and commercial breeders.  As introduced, it would only allow pet stores currently operating in the state to sell dogs and cats, and they must obtain the animals only from breeders that meet certain requirements. The bill clarified that the definition of “pet store” does not include a person who sells dogs they have bred and raised. In addition, current law allows all USDA licensees to be exempt from the state’s limit of 50 dogs on a premises. This bill would only allow the exemption if a breeder has kept a license without interruption since January 2010. AKC GR expressed concerns with this bill. During a February 11 hearing in the Consumer Protection and Business Committee, a substitute was passed that would allow current pet stores to operate, but not allow any new pet stores to sell cats and dogs in the state. The bill has passed the House and Senate and was signed by the governor.

West Virginia HB 2561 seeks to change several areas of the current laws related to animal cruelty. It would add language that limits amount of time a dog can be outdoors when temperatures are below 32 degrees and above 85 degrees with no exceptions. The bill allows for seizure for violations and increases criminal penalties. Finally, the bill provides that a person in violation of this statute for a second time shall be added to a state-wide, publicly available, do not adopt or sell registry. The bill was assigned to the House Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee and did not receive a Committee hearing prior to the end of session on April 10.

West Virginia HB 2095 is comprehensive legislation seeking to enhance West Virginia’s animal welfare laws covering everything from the care of animals in shelters to the care of animals by private individuals.  The legislation would bring West Virginia law into alignment with reasonable, accepted animal husbandry and care laws and provide comprehensive laws regarding the care of animals by public shelters. The sponsor, Delegate Dianna Graves, agreed to offer AKC’s amendments to extreme weather and consumer protection and extended an offer to work with AKC on the hoarding issue and language during the interims and next session.  The bill passed the House with amended language.  While the bill did not make it to the Senate floor for a vote prior to the end of session on April 10, AKC GR will be working with the sponsor to have the bill reintroduced next session.