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News from the State Capitols

Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking. Visit the 2019 Legislation Tracking page and click on your state to get the latest updates on state bills monitored by the AKC.

Connecticut – AKC GR has learned that the state department of agriculture has compiled draft regulations overseeing the animal importers and shelters.  The proposal is awaiting the scheduling of a public hearing by the Secretary of state’s office.  AKC GR will forward an alert when the proposal becomes public.

Connecticut – Representative Abercrombie has convened a workgroup regarding service dogs in anticipation of legislation for next session. AKC GR has been included as a member of the workgroup and is attending monthly meetings this fall.

Iowa – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) posted extensive proposed regulations on animal welfare for public comment. AKC GR and local kennel clubs were in contact with IDALS staff throughout the open comment period and provided extensive written comments. The regulations are expected to be finalized prior to the start of the 2020 legislative session in January.

Maine – LD 1311 prohibits pet stores from selling dogs and cats and defines “animal rescue organization” as an entity with no affiliation to “breeders”.  AKC GR expressed multiple concerns and an initial committee vote resulted in an “ought not to pass”.  The committee reconvened a week later to reconsider and issued a divided report, but with a majority voting ought not to pass.  To neutralize opposition, proponents amended the bill to eliminate the “anti-breeder” language and grandfather current pet stores in allowing them to sell dogs and cats but, prohibit future pet stores from selling dogs or cats. The bill was quickly adopted and has been sent to the Governor.  AKC GR has sent a letter expressing opposition to the bill and requesting a veto.  In an unusual move, the Governor has held the proposal and has five days after the next session convenes to make a decision.

Maine LD 1442 would authorize courts to appoint a volunteer lawyer or law student as an advocate in the interests of justice for any animal subject to cruelty.  AKC GR and the Maine Federation submitted testimony noting that the bill raises many constitutional and procedural issues as drafted. Due to a highly publicized animal cruelty case and despite the Judiciary committee issuing a Divided Report on the bill and The Federation and AKC GR meeting in the Sen. President’s office to express concerns, the bill has been sent to the Governor for approval.  AKC GR has sent a letter to the Governor expressing concerns about this policy change.  In an unusual move, the Governor has held the proposal and has five days after the next session convenes to make a decision.

Massachusetts – 2018 passage of SB 2646, PAWS II, established a special commission to study and report on the feasibility and cost of mandating that employees and contractors of the Department of Children and Families, employees and contractors of the Department of Elder Affairs and investigators for the Disabled Persons Protection Commission report known or suspected animal cruelty, abuse and neglect.  The commission is also an animal cruelty registry. A report with possible legislative recommendations is expected soon and AKC GR is attending all meetings.

Massachusetts – Several animal bills have been heard by three joint committees.  AKC GR has issued alerts and testified in support of HB 3657 prohibiting the misrepresentation of a service animal; SB 595, HB 1037 and HB 1038 preventing discrimination against dogs based on breed, weight or size in insurance policies and public housing; and SB 947 permitting sporting dog training areas in the state.  AKC GR has issued alerts and testified in opposition to SB 989, and SB 990 which would ban outdoor kennels and restrict tethering to 15 minutes.

Massachusetts – Multiple animal bills that would increase regulation of breeders and pet stores; restrict the number of dogs owned and regulate dog daycare facilities were heard by the Joint Municipalities Committee in June. AKC GR issued a legislative alert, testified with local breeders, and submitted testimony expressing concerns. AKC GR is working with the bill sponsors to re-draft some of the proposals to address negative and unintended consequences.

Massachusetts – HB 2573 offers tax credits to promote the adoption of dogs and cats from shelters.  AKC GR has submitted testimony indicating concerns with this concept.

Massachusetts – The Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security considered Nero’s bill on July 18th.   The measure would allow EMTs to treat and transport law enforcement K9s injured in the line of duty.  AKC GR issued an action alert and testified in support of the measure.  Grassroots support from the Massachusetts dog clubs has been significant.

Massachusetts  –  The Joint Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee took testimony from a crowded hearing room on SB 175 banning the retail sale of cats and dogs at pet shops and SB 118 requiring licensure for dog trainers.  AKC GR provided testimony expressing serious concerns with these measures and has an upcoming meeting with the House Committee Chair together with an AKC breeder of merit.

Michigan – Senate Bill 419 seeks to license and regulate rescues in Michigan. New provisions include requiring certain vaccinations and veterinary certifications for any rescues bringing dogs into the state, and an allowance for the state to inspect foster homes if needed. AKC requested a clarifying amendment to ensure that those who breed dogs may also participate in rescue activities. A public hearing was conducted on October 31, during which time the AKC federation testified and AKC’s written testimony was publicly acknowledged and addressed by the sponsor.  A substitute draft is being circulated and AKC GR is closely monitoring this issue.

New Jersey – Assembly Bill 781 would establish a process for recovering the cost of caring for domestic companion animals involved in animal cruelty investigations. Per AKC’s request, the bill has been amended to ensure that courts consider whether the defendant is able to pay before ownership would be forfeited. The bill is pending in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

New Hampshire – SB 77 requires the court to hear an animal cruelty case within 14 days and requires a defendant convicted of animal abuse to pay for the care and treatment of the animals seized.  AKC GR and its state federation obtained numerous amendments before the bill was attached to another measure on hemp farming and signed by the Governor.

New Hampshire – SB 161 eliminates the current definition of “commercial breeder” and labels anyone who transfers more than 25 dogs in 12 months as a “pet vendor” requiring licensure and inspection.  Strong objections to the flaws in this draft and the process of adding it to the budget as a procedural move have been expressed.  The governor vetoed the budget and sent it back to the legislature for changes. AKC GR and the NH federation of DOGS regret the provision was included in the final budget negotiated by the Governor.

New Hampshire – HB 513 authorizes certified therapy dogs during court proceedings involving children or intellectually disabled persons.  AKC GR supports this bill, and at a committee work session, a Concord Police Department Officer was there to talk about the department’s use of an AKC Certification Program for their “Court Dogs”.  This bill is scheduled for a favorable executive session in soon.

Pennsylvania – SB 44 would only allow pet stores to sell dogs from shelters or rescues, in an effort to combat a perceived problem with disreputable breeders.  AKC is working with the state federation and Senate Judiciary Committee on alternatives, including promoting a positive consumer protection bill already introduced.  The bill is pending in committee and AKC continues to communicate with the sponsor and the committee, and work with the federation and breeders to express concerns.

Rhode Island – H. 5113 establishes and maintains an animal cruelty conviction registry and requires all pet sellers to check the registry prior to transferring ownership of animals.  AKC GR submitted testimony outlining concerns with accurate identification of animal purchasers and the broad proposed “pet seller” definition. The bill was defeated on the Senate floor but is likely to resurface. AKC GR recently contacted the bill sponsor and has requested amendments to this bill prior to the re-filing deadline. These amendments are under consideration.

Rhode Island – The Senate President has established a commission relative to dangerous dogs with a goal of updating state law. AKC GR has shared with the Chairwoman AKC’s expertise in this area and offered to be a resource. 

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

Tennessee – HB 852 / SB 1277 seek to enhance animal cruelty penalties. The sponsor of HB 852 requested an amendment to the bill that would direct the court to impose vastly increased penalties for any offense; expand confiscation to include animals, equipment, and property; limit a citizen’s right to appeal a bond for care award; and further enable the awarding of seized property, fines and fees to non-governmental organizations. These increased penalties do not distinguish between a correctable issue such as a spilled water container that does not result in harm to an animal and heinous acts of animal torture. AKC GR submitted letters of concern. The sponsor withdrew the bill but may refile in the next session. 

Vermont – The session has closed without passage of any onerous bills. An advisory council with a seat that includes the VT federation is researching how to best regulate animal shelters and rescues in the state, which currently have no oversight.

Wisconsin – AB 298 and SB 478 would prohibit anyone from selling, transferring, or offering for sale a dog from a pet store, unless the animal is from a licensed shelter or rescue in the state.  AKC and local clubs are expressing concern with this bill.  AB 298 is pending in the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety and SB 478 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Local Government, Small Business, Tourism, and Workforce Development.