Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking.
Seven state legislatures and the District of Columbia are currently in session, and two state legislatures are in special session. AKC Government Relations is currently tracking more than 1,500 local, state, and federal issues. The following are highlights of current legislation around the country:
California – AB-781 would require a county to update its emergency plan to designate emergency shelters able to accommodate persons with pets on or before July 1, 2024. The bill passed unanimously out of the Legislature and was signed into law by the governor. AKC looks forward to the implementation of AB-781.
California – AB-1215 is a positive bill that would set up a program for state administered grants to assist pets of individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness and for domestic violence survivors and their pets when accessing the shelter system. Although the bill passed unanimously out of the Legislature, it was vetoed by the governor due to its potential cost. AKC looks forward to supporting similar legislation in the future.
California – AB-554 would clarify animal cruelty enforcement. AKC thanks Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (46th District) and the Assembly Judiciary Committee for the proposed amendment to the bill to ensure Californians’ right to due process is respected. The amended bill passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee. However, due to inaction in the full Assembly, the bill will not advance this year but may be reconsidered in 2024. Read more.
California – SB-89 brings California definitions of stalking in line with federal law, including to making harming or killing pets a stalking offense. Although the bill unanimously passed the Senate, the Assembly Public Safety Committee defeated the bill for the year. AKC is working with the bill author’s office and expects the bill to be taken up again in early 2024. AKC supports this bill.
Florida – HB 941/SB 942 supported by AKC, removes an exemption from state law that allowed certain local governments to continue banning/restricting dog breeds. It also authorizes public housing authorities to adopt policies related to dogs provided that such requirements are not specific to a dog’s breed, weight, or size. SB 942 took effect on October 1, 2023.
Florida – HB 1047/SB 1300, supported by AKC, seeks to increase protections for police canines, fire canines, search and rescue canines, and police horses. HB 1047 took effect on October 1, 2023.
Massachusetts – SB 1056 would, among other provisions, require a minimum of 100 square feet per dog for outdoor enclosures and ban the kenneling of any dog outside unattended for more than 5 hours or from 10pm to 6am. AKC opposes the measure as introduced. Read more.
Massachusetts – In response to dog injuries and deaths at dog day care facilities, HB 2019 and SB 1309 have been re-filed as “Ollie’s Law” and would impose requirements such as staffing ratios for boarding, training, dog day care, breeding and personal kennels. They would authorize animal control officers to inspect and tell you how many dogs you are allowed to own and enforce a new “personal breeder kennel” license for anyone with more than 4 intact female dogs over 6 months who transfers any offspring. Personal breeder kennels and commercial breeder kennels would be held to the same future regulations. They have been referred to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee which held a public hearing on September 26. More details are available in AKC’s alert.
Massachusetts – HB 314 would provide consumer protections at dog day care businesses and is supported by multiple animal welfare organizations, including AKC. It has been referred to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee which held a public hearing on it on September 26.
Massachusetts – SB 1311 would eliminate from current law text that exempts from pet shop licensure any person selling, exchanging or otherwise transferring the offspring of their personally owned animals. It has been referred to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee which held a public hearing on September 26. Details are in AKC’s alert.
Massachusetts – HB 2102 and SB 1059 would expand the current model of issuing civil fines for neglect of dogs to other domestic animals and send fines collected to the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund instead of the General Fund. The bills have been referred to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and were discussed at s public hearing on September 26.
Massachusetts – SB 876/HB 1367 would prohibit housing authorities and certain housing agreements from discriminating against tenants based upon the size, weight or breed of dog owned. They also prohibit insurance companies from discriminating based upon dog breed and have been referred to the Joint Committee on Housing. AKC submitted supportive testimony for the September 27 public hearing.
Michigan – House Bills 5039, 5040, and 5041 would prohibit counties, cities, villages, and townships from enacting any breed-specific law or regulation. The localities would still be permitted to pass laws regarding dogs or dog owners. AKC supports these bills, which were recently assigned to the House Agriculture Committee.
Montana – SB-280 institutes a low-cost licensing system for bird dog training on game birds not raised in captivity. It has overwhelmingly passed the Senate and House and was signed by the governor.
New Hampshire – HB 37 is a re-filed measure that would establish a committee to study best practices for companion animal groomers.The House Environment and Agriculture Committee has retained the bill and asked the Department of Agriculture post an educational bulletin on standards for responsible groomers. The committee held a work session on September 12 and agreed to draft an amendment in for consideration on October 24.
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 has been amended to create a two-year initial term for the program. However, AKC GR is concerned that the bill still fails to explicitly state that animals are to be considered property under New Jersey law.
New Jersey – Assembly Bill 2354 and Senate Bill 981 sought to add troublesome “cost of care” provisions that could be used to improperly 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. S.981 was approved unamended by the Senate in March 2022. One year later, the Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee separately amended the bills prior to being passed by the full Assembly. S.9891 was signed by Governor Murphy on July 26. AKC continues to strongly oppose the new law due to ongoing constitutional concerns and the lack of protections for non-possessory co-owners, and will continue to express these concerns during the regulatory process.
New Jersey – Senate Bill 1803 seeks to prohibit declawing procedures from being performed on cats and other animals unless deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose by a licensed veterinarian. AKC opposes this measure because it may prohibit common and accepted animal husbandry practices from being performed on dogs. The bill was approved by the Senate Economic Growth Committee and has been rereferred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
New York – S. 4099/A. 2917 makes certain hunting competitions illegal. As written, however, both bills contain important amendments requested by the AKC to protect training and performance events. The bills have passed the legislature and will soon be sent to the governor for consideration. Read more.
Ohio – House Bill 277 would provide tax credits to landlords who allow tenants to keep companion animals without charging a nonrefundable fee or additional rent. In addition, to qualify for the tax credits, the landlord may not have any breed-specific policies on the rental units. This bill was introduced in an effort to address shelter population concerns in Ohio. AKC supports HB 277, which is pending in the House Ways and Means Committee.
Oregon – SB-696 appropriates money to the Department of Justice out of General Fund to fund animal cruelty focused attorneys within the department’s Criminal Justice Division. Although the bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it will not advance this year.
Oregon – HB-3571 establishes immunity from prosecution for theft and civil liability for nonprofit animal rescue entity that takes possession of, keeps and disposes of a cat or dog if the person who transfers the cat or dog to the animal holding agency believes the cat or dog to be lost, stray or abandoned. The bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee (with proposed amendments) but will not advance this year. AKC continues to monitor this issue.
Pennsylvania – SB 746 and its companion HB 1322 seek to update the Commonwealth’s Dog Law. Even though AKC participated in a stakeholder meeting ahead of the formal introduction, both bills contained language not included in the stakeholders’ agreed to draft that removed an existing provision providing an exemption from licensing and health certification requirements for dogs entering the Commonwealth temporarily to participate in dog events. Further, the legislation changed the provision of a veterinarian issued health certificate to an interstate certification of veterinarian inspection. AKC GR was successful in securing an amendment to reinstate this important exemption. SB 746 passed the Senate and currently sits in the House Appropriations Committee. AKC GR continues to monitor for any action on either bills.
Pennsylvania – SB 785 establishes a new Animal Welfare Board empowered to review existing laws and regulations related to the keeping and handling of animals and make recommendations for changes. Unlike a short-focused Task Force, this Board would continue until such a time that legislation was passed to eliminate it, thereby, allowing it to provide review and recommendation to any law or regulation established going forward. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
South Carolina – H 3238, among other provisions, seeks to require a person, on a second conviction for animal cruelty offenses, to forfeit all animals and to not own an animal for up to five years, regardless of the nature or severity of the offense. The AKC supports full enforcement of fair and reasonable animal cruelty laws and appropriate penalties for abusers; however, the scope of H.3238 is overreaching. It is referred to the House Committee on Judiciary, and carries over to year 2 of the 2023-2024 session.
South Carolina – H 3682 and similar S 456 seek to eliminate necessary protections under current law regarding the award of costs of care for a confiscated animal. H 3682 was minimally amended and passed in the House. The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources positively amended H 3682; however, significant concerns remain with the bill as last amended. H 3682 is pending a second vote in the Senate. These bills carry over to year 2 of the 2023-2024 session. View AKC’s most recent alert on S 456.
South Carolina – H 3247, a bill supported by AKC, seeks to increase penalties for maltreating a police K9. It is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. It carries over to year 2 of the 2023-2024 session.
Vermont – The Animal Cruelty Investigations Advisory Board was created by the Vermont General Assembly within the Department of Public Safety to advise the Governor, the general assembly and the Commissioner of Public Safety on issues involving the cooperation and coordination of all agencies that exercise animal welfare responsibilities. The president of the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs serves on the board and recent meetings have focused on drafting legislation to consolidate state agencies’ animal welfare oversight responsibilities and to regulate animal shelters and rescue organizations. AKC anticipates legislation will be filed for consideration next year.