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Taking Command Newsletter

State Issues November 2018

Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking. Visit the 2018 Legislation Tracking page and click on your state to get the latest updates on state bills monitored by the AKC.

Assembly Bill 1762 would require California State Parks to post on its website details of where dogs are allowed within the state park system. AKC GR sent a letter in support of this measure, which has passed out of the Assembly and the Senate and has been enrolled.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 1776 is a pilot project for San Bernardino County that will authorize specified emergency medical personnel to transport a police dog injured in the line of duty to an appropriate veterinary care facility. The bill also includes search and rescue dogs, passive alert dogs, and service dogs in its definition of injured dogs that can be transported. The bill also removed most civil liabilities from both emergency medical personnel and their agencies for harm incurred during transport. The bill has passed out of the Assembly and the Senate and has been enrolled.

CaliforniaAssembly Bill 2362 would establish health and safety standards for mobile dog and cat transportation facilities by requiring transporters to meet certain conditions as to heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting in their transportation facilities. The bill would be applicable to public animal control agencies or shelter, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animal shelters, humane society shelters, or rescue groups that works with at least one private or public shelter, and to a public or private for-profit entity that uses mobile or traveling housing facilities for dogs and cats. This bill has passed out of the Assembly and the Senate and has been enrolled.

Florida – Florida voters approved a new state constitutional amendment that will phase out commercial dog racing in the state in connection with wagering. The new amendment only applies to those who are approved by the state to conduct racing operations related to gambling and does not affect AKC events or lure coursing competitions or events. AKC-sanctioned events do not allow wagering and are not subject or conducted pursuant to those laws.  Prizes received for placements in competitive events are not the proceeds of a wager. Read more about the amendment here.

Idaho Senate Bill 1312 would increase penalties for any person who purposely injures or harasses a service dog or a service dog in training, or allows an animal to injure the service dog. The bill also defines what constitutes a service dog and what does not. The bill has been referred to committee.

MassachusettsSenate Bill 2331 (formerly Senate Bill 1155) would expand restrictions on dog breeders, establish fines for anyone who fails to license their kennel or require them to relinquish ownership of their dogs, and create regulations for those who own eight intact female dogs. The AKC has joined local dog owners and other organizations in testifying in opposition to these bills. SB 2331 was passed by the Massachusetts Senate on March 15 but did not advance further. Read AKC’s legislative alert for more information on these bills. The incoming Senate President is the bill sponsor of this proposal and AKC anticipates further action.

Massachusetts – House Bill 3212 seeks to create consumer protections for pet store purchasers, mandates extensive shelter recordkeeping requirements, and prohibits local pet store sales bans. AKC GR testified in support of this bill, which is currently under the cognizance of the House Ways and Means Committee. 

Michigan – Senate Bill 741 and House Bill 6295 would prohibit local governments from enacting or enforcing policies that regulate dogs based upon its breed or perceived breed. AKC supports these bills, which are both pending in the House Local Government Committee.

MichiganHouse Bills 5916 and 5917 would regulate pet stores and allow them only to source animals from shelters, rescues, or qualified breeders. AKC GR and its Michigan federation are working with stakeholders on clarifying amendments. The bills have passed the House Agriculture Committee and are pending a vote by House.

Michigan – House Bill 6301 amends several portions of the animal control law, including provisions that may remove the requirements for individual dog and kennel licenses.  AKC GR is closely reviewing this proposal, which is pending in the House Local Government Committee.

New Jersey – Assembly Bill 781 would establish a process for recovering the cost of caring for domestic companion animals involved in animal cruelty investigations. AKC GR is concerned that A781 does not require courts to consider whether the defendant is able to pay and that costs are a lien against the animal until all payments have been made. To ensure that individuals are not erroneously deprived of their property, AKC GR recommended that courts be required to determine a defendant’s ability to pay.  The bill as amended passed the Assembly and is pending in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

New Jersey – Assembly Bill 2318 and Senate Bill 1860 seek to provide immunity from civil and criminal liability for those who rescue an unattended animal from a motor vehicle under inhumane conditions.  The AKC expressed concerns that the bills failed to provide any recourse for the owner if an animal was not actually in danger, or to protect owners from liability if an animal escapes or harms someone because of being removed from the vehicle.  An amended version of AB 2318 was passed by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and an amended version of SB 1860 unanimously passed the Senate in July.

New Jersey – Senate Bill 1209 would prohibit the declawing or flexor tendonectomy procedure by any means on an animal unless the procedure is deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose by a licensed veterinarian. Those in violation could be fined, imprisoned, or both.  AKC GR requested the bill be amended to specifically provide an exception for dewclaw removal. The bill passed one committee and was re-referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

New Jersey – Multiple bills (A3044 /S2514/A3048) designed to regulate professional groomers have been introduced in response to media reports regarding the deaths of dogs while in the custody of professional groomers. AKC GR is working with the sponsor of A.3044 and its companion bill, which currently has been amended, per AKC’s request, to exclude grooming a dog for a dog show or other competitive event from the definition of pet groomer.  Additional amendments are expected. AKC is also working with other legislators and key stakeholders on legislative language to require that professional groomers pass a training course on basic health and safety standards prior to licensing.  A.3044 passed the Assembly in late October and awaits committee assignment in the Senate. Read our legislative alert.

New Jersey – S 2820 seeks to direct the New Jersey Department of Health to develop standards and to adopt rules and regulations for the “appropriate” breeding of dogs in both commercial and residential settings. The bill also seeks to prohibit the breeding of dogs if a person does not have a current USDA license for dog breeding.  Violations would result in the forfeiture of any dog and its offspring in the person’s possession and civil penalties of up to $2,000. The AKC is deeply concerned with this bill’s extremist provisions and its lack of understanding of the practical availability and necessity of federal licensing.  AKC GR has reached out to the sponsor and is already working with grassroots leaders and key contacts to oppose S 2820 should it gain any traction. The bill has been referred to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. It is not scheduled for a hearing.

Ohio –
HB 539 would declare the Labrador Retriever the State Dog.  AKC GR is working with the sponsor in support of this measure, which has passed the House State and Local Government Committee.

Pennsylvania – The governor issued a press release calling on the legislature to pass more legislation protecting animals.  Listed in the press release were Senate Bill 1154 limiting pet store sourcing and House Bill 1216, which allows first responders to remove animals from vehicles if they are believed to be at risk.  The Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs issued a statement in response and AKC GR is closely monitoring and commenting on animal legislation moving through the General Assembly

Pennsylvania – Senate Bill 1154 would restrict pet stores to only sell dogs from shelters and rescues.  AKC GR and the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs are working to express concerns to the Senate and to promote Senate Bill 54, which is a positive consumer protection bill that would be a much more effective solution.  The bill is pending on the Senate floor.

Pennsylvania – House Bill 1216 allows law enforcement officers, animal control officers, humane society officers, and emergency responders to enter a vehicle without liability for damage to remove an animal if it is believed the dog or cat is in imminent danger of suffering harm if not removed immediately.  The first responder must make an effort to find the owner prior to entry and take steps to ensure the well-being and safety of the dog or cat.  Notice must be left with the reason for entry, name of the person and their employer, a telephone number, and the location where the dog or cat may be retrieved if possible.  The first responder will not be immune from liability if the actions constitute gross negligence, recklessness or willful misconduct.  The bill also clarifies that someone is committing an offense of neglect if a person fails to provide for the basic needs of each animal to which they have a duty of care, including necessary sustenance and water, access to clean and sanitary shelter and protection from the weather, and necessary veterinary care.  HB 1216 also penalizes those who harm service, guide or support dogs. The governor signed this bill on October 24 and it will go into effect at the end of December 2018.

Pennsylvania – House Bill 2723 would prohibit pet leasing, where a contract to transfer ownership is contingent upon making payments over a period of time prior to the transfer of possession.  The bill was referred to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on October 17.

WashingtonHB 2822 aligns the definition of a “service dog” with the ADA and makes it a civil infraction to misrepresent a pet as a service dog.  AKC provided testimony to both houses in support. The bill passed both houses and has been delivered to the Governor.