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News from the State Capitols

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

California – AB 1881 as introduced established a “Dog and Cat Bill of Rights”.  While the bill only required that the list be posted at shelters and rescues, AKC joined many organizations in expressing significant concerns about putting “rights” of animals in law and the implications this has for changing the legal status of animals in the state.  The Assembly Business and Professions Committee amended the bill on April 26 to remove all references to the word “rights” in the actual code text. Instead, while the author may call it the “dog and cat bill of rights”, the actual chapter will now be called “Dog and Cat Welfare”.  The amendments also clarify that the purpose is solely for education. AB 1881, as amended, passed the Assembly and passed the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development, Judiciary, and Appropriations Committees.  It ultimately failed in the Senate.

California – AB 1901 as introduced would have regulated all trainers in the state as boarding kennels, regardless of whether dogs are kept overnight.  AKC, dog trainers, clubs, and many others expressed opposition to this proposal and worked to educate the committee and author of the many problems should this bill pass.  As such, the author agreed to remove all the requirements and instead require certain disclosures when a trainer starts with a new client. This includes providing the goals of the class, training philosophy, and whether or not the trainer is certified. It does not mandate that a trainer be certified in order to teach classes. The bill was signed by the governor and goes into effect on January 1, 2023.

California – AB 1648 would require anyone who has a city or county kennel license to also have an animal disaster preparedness plan.  As passed by the Assembly, there are no specific instructions or guidelines for what should be included in this plan. AKC understands the purpose of this bill and amendments is to allow local officials to act quickly to help animals in case of a disaster situation.  The bill is pending with the governor.Read more.

California  AB 2723 would amend current law regarding microchipping when a dog is adopted from a local shelter.  As amended by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, when a shelter or rescue transfers ownership of a dog, they must provide information including microchip company information, if the dog has a current microchip number, and any other information needed so the new owner can register themselves as the primary contact on the microchip.  In addition, before transferring or selling a dog, the shelter or rescue much document and keep records of all efforts made to contact the microchip’s primary contact, if the dog is microchipped. The bill is pending with the governor.

California  AB 2380 would prohibit a person from obtaining a loan in order to purchase a dog or cat if the loan is offered, arranged, or facilitated by a merchant or retailer. The bill is pending with the governor.

 California  SB 971 as amended requires that public housing financed by the state allow residents to own or maintain “common household pets”. A refundable deposit may be required, but landlords may not require a monthly fee to keep the animal. Considerations may be made to limit the number of animals based on the unit’s size and prohibitions on potentially dangerous or vicious dogs. The landlord may not place restrictions based on an animal’s size or weight, but may have leashing, nuisance or liability insurance requirements. The bill was signed by the governor.

Connecticut – Established in Public Act No. 22-54, the Department of Agriculture has convened a workgroup to explore a state-wide dog license portal.  In addition to the Conference of Municipalities, the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association and the Town Clerks Association, AKC and the Connecticut Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners are discussing provisions for the pre-use testing of the portal by each category of intended users and any implementation plan for consideration by the General Assembly next year.

Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has hired Ronda Steciuk as the new Animal Welfare Program Director.  At the September Animal Welfare Advisory Council, members provided an update on a dog license subcommittee’s discussion regarding a statewide online renewal portal and the need for legislation to implement changes.  AKC is monitoring the subcommittee’s work.

Michigan – House Bills 4703 and 4704 address the issue of animals being seized, and the payment of their care during impoundment. As introduced, the bills amend current law and clarify that the owner or possessor may request a hearing within 14 days to determine if the requirement to pay is justified and the cost is fair and reasonable. AKC issued an alert and drafted a letter to the committee expressing concerns with the underlying law. Numerous amendments were adopted by the House, including allowing the court to consider the ability of the defendant to pay and ensuring that if the owner is found not guilty, then the animals must be returned. However, it is unclear if this provision applies if a payment is missed during the trial. The bills passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 14 and are pending consideration by the full Senate.

 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 was also amended to create a two-year initial term for the program. The bill still fails to explicitly state that animals are to be considered property under New Jersey law. AKC GR and our representatives in New Jersey, along with allied animal interest groups, continue to oppose A.1965. Click here for more information.

New Jersey – As introduced, Senate Bill 333 sought to prohibit persons convicted of criminal animal cruelty offenses from owning domestic companion animals and from working or volunteering at animal-related enterprises.  AKC expressed deep concerns with section 2 of the bill, which would have allowed a court to order (1) the forfeiture of any animal owned by an animal cruelty offender and (2) the transfer of such animal to the custody of an animal shelter. In effect, the section failed to protect the property interests of co-owners not in possession of a dog at the time of the offense.  A significantly amended version of S.333 that addresses AKC’s concerns unanimously passed the Senate on May 26, 2022.  The bill is now under the cognizance of the Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee.

New Jersey – Senate Bill 981 seeks to add troublesome “cost of care” provisions that could be used to erroneously 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. Despite conflicts with provisions in amended S.333, the bill was approved unamended by the Senate; and has been assigned to the Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee. AKC GR and our representatives in New Jersey continue to work with sponsors of the legislation to address concerns.

 Oregon – Gun control advocates have collected enough signatures to place a measure on the November 2022 ballot (Ballot Measure 114) that will require new registration, background checks, training requirements and other measures to purchase and own firearms.  AKC issued an informational notice so those using certain firearms for performance events would be aware of the changes should the measure pass in November.  Numerous sporting groups are opposing the measure.

Oregon – Animal rights activists are once again collecting signatures to put a measure on the ballot that would essentially ban all hunting, prohibit certain breeding practices including artificial insemination, and restrict training practices. Other provisions would dramatically impact farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and even pest control.  The initiative was pulled for 2022 and is now being put forward for the 2024 ballot as Initiative Petition (IP) 3.  AKC is working with two broad coalitions to oppose the measure. AKC GR has also joined the new Oregon Sportsmen Conservation Partnership to discuss legislative solutions to protect performance events and hunting in the state.  Read more.

Pennsylvania  SB 907 would establish the Animal Welfare Board to review existing state laws and regulations related to the keeping and handling of animals. The Board is to be comprised of individuals representing various stakeholder organizations and representatives from the PA Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General’s office.  Due to several meetings and conversations with the sponsor’s office, the board will also include a representative from the American Kennel Club, the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, and Northeast Beagle Gundog Federation.  The bill passed the Senate on June 20 and has been referred to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. Read more.

PennsylvaniaSB 1289 is entitled the “Dog Law Modernization Act”.  This bill removes the increased license fees for intact animals and also updates kennel licensing and dangerous dog laws.  In addition, rescues will have an increased license fee based on the number of dogs in their network in the state, as well as reporting and other requirements.  AKC GR has had numerous discussions with the sponsor’s office and the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement regarding the language to ensure it is as fair and reasonable as possible.  The bill passed the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on June 22 and is pending consideration by the full Senate.  Read more about this bill.