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State Issues September 2019

State Issues September 2019


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.

California – A group of animal rights activists has filed a lawsuit against the California Fish and Game Commission, challenging their ruling allowing the use of treeing switches and GPS collars on hunting dogs. While the Commission’s decisions were primarily directed at hounds and climbing game (bears, mountain lions, and bobcats, all of which are illegal to hunt in California) the lawsuit could potentially have implications for all dog activities where a GPS collar is used, such as upland bird and waterfowl hunting or even hiking.  AKC GR is researching the lawsuit and gathering more information

NOTE: California’s legislature adjourned Sept. 13. The governor has 30 days to sign or veto all legislation sent to him.

California – AB 588 will require any animal shelter, rescue organization or humane society to disclose the history of any dog over four month of age that has bitten a human. This bill has passed out of the Assembly and is now in the Senate.

California- SB 281 would establish a joint powers authority that would manage, develop or dispose of the real property in San Francisco known as the Cow Palace. This bill is apparently dead for 2019, but could be revised for 2020, the second year of the two-year legislative session. While the impetus for this bill is to prevent gun shows, the sale of this venue would also affect dog shows and other animal events that are held each year at the site. AKC GR is monitoring this proposal.

California – AB 1125 will create the Animal Control Officer Standards Act and require the California Animal Welfare Association (CAWA) to establish and maintain training standards to certify animal control officers.  AKC GR is closely monitoring this bill.

California – SB 64 would prohibit a public animal control agency, shelter, or rescue group from releasing a dog or cat to an owner, or adopting out, selling, or giving away a dog or cat to a new owner, unless the dog or cat is microchipped. The bill unanimously passed the Senate and is now in the Assembly.

California – Identical bills AB 1553/SB78 will make changes to California law by replacing “animal pound” with “animal shelter,” and other similar language changes. AB 1553’s author says the changes are necessary to update “language to reflect how we treat and speak of our animals in the 21st century.” Both bills have passed out of the house of origin. While the changes are not substantive, AKC GR is closely monitoring both bills.

ConnecticutSB 594 bans the predatory leasing of pets by finance companies.  AKC GR worked with the bill sponsor and committee to amend the bill prior to release from the committee to clarify the ban would not apply to the leasing of purebred dogs for breeding or exhibition, or for working animals trained and utilized to perform tasks such as service, guide or law enforcement.  The bill was signed into law on June 19th as Public Act 19-82.

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 the next session.  AKC GR has been included as a member of the workgroup and will attend monthly meetings this fall.

Iowa – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) has announced that proposed regulations regarding animal care and kennels will be released for public comment in early October.  IDALS has already reached out to the AKC and local kennel clubs for feedback in anticipation of the upcoming rule.  AKC GR will be providing more information on this proposal and how to submit comments as soon as it is available.

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 this fall and AKC GR is attending all meetings.

Massachusetts – Several animal bills have been heard by three joint committees in September.  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 Massachusetts dog clubs has been significant.

Massachusetts  –  On July 22, 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 dog rescues bring into the state, and an allowance for the state to inspect foster homes if needed.   This bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture 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. A.781 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. AKC GR recommended that courts be required to determine a defendant’s ability to pay.  The bill 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 A2318 was passed by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and an amended version of S1860 is pending in the full Assembly.

New Jersey – Multiple bills (A3044 /S2514/A3048) would regulate professional groomers.  The bills were introduced in response to the deaths of dogs while in the custody of professional groomers. A3044 has been amended per AKC’s request to exclude mandatory licensing for grooming of dogs for the purpose of exhibition at a show or other competitive event.  AKC is also working on amendments to require a training course on basic health and safety standards prior to licensing.  Read our legislative alert.

New Jersey – S2820 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 remains 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 has worked with grassroots leaders and key contacts to oppose S2820 should it gain any traction. The bill has been referred to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. It is not scheduled for a hearing.

New Jersey – Similar to proposals in other states, recently-introduced S3541 seeks to prohibit harassing or taking of certain wildlife at competitive events and establishes penalties.  The bill has been assigned to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee but has not been scheduled for consideration. AKC GR continues to monitor this legislation, though grassroots leaders have reported that this bill will not be considered.

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 on June 25th, 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 October.

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 “pet seller” definition proposed.  The bill sponsor has agreed to accept amendments by the Senate to distinguish hobby breeders from pet sellers under the Act.  Despite active push back on the bill from the RI ACLU and mental health groups in the state, the Senate Judiciary committee recommended passage, but the bill was then defeated on the Senate floor.  AKC GR will work with legislative supporters to amend this bill prior to the re-filing deadline.

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 that the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee pass an amendment to the bill that, among other extensive provisions, would direct the court to impose vastly increased penalties, including imprisonment and significant fines, for any offense; expand the confiscation of animals to include other equipment and property based on an accusation; 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 operating in the state or in a county. These increased penalties do not distinguish between a correctible issue such as a spilled water container that does not result in harm to an animal, and heinous acts of animal torture. AKC GR wrote a letter of concern to the subcommittee, which deferred the bill to Summer Study. HB 852 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on October 14, 2019.

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 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, which is pending in the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.