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News from the State Capitols

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

Ten 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 1,444 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.  This bill has passed the legislature and is pending with the governor AKC supports this bill.

California – AB-1215  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. This bill has passed the legislature and is pending with the governor. AKC supports this bill.

 California – AB-742 would prevent the use of police canines for the purpose of arrest, apprehension, or any form of crowd control. AKC recognizes the value of highly trained working K9s for a wide variety of jobs including detection, search and rescue, and other public safety functions. The measure passed two Assembly committees, but did not advance in the full Assembly, and it will not advance this year.

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. Read more.

California – SB-89 brings California definitions of stalking to be in line with federal law, including 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.

California – AB-1518 seeks to expand on previous bills to increase awareness and education about the value of service dogs. The bill has passed the Assembly Business and Professions Committee but was prevented from advancing by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. AKC looks forward to supporting similar legislation in the future.

Delaware – HB 124 would prohibit owners from allowing dogs to bark continuously for more than 15 minutes, or intermittently for more than 30 minutes per day.  After discussions with the sponsor, the bill was amended to exempt dogs engaged in any lawful activity including training, hunting, performance events, etc.  AKC continued to express concerns about the likelihood of neighbor disputes, and the inability of animal control to be able to consider cases on an individual basis.  Further, AKC GR has pointed out that this bill seeks a statewide solution to a local nuisance issue.  HB 124 was ultimately held in the House Appropriations Committee when the first half of the two-year session ended on June 30, 2023, but could be voted out of the Committee during the second session which starts in January 2024.

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 was signed by the Governor and takes effect on October 1, 2023.

Florida – HB 1047/SB 1300, supported by AKC, increase protections for police canines, fire canines, search and rescue canines, and police horses. HB 1047 was signed by the Governor as Chapter No. 2023-110 and takes effect October 1, 2023.

Florida HB 7063 among numerous other provisions, establishes sales tax holidays in 2023 for purchases of supplies necessary for the evacuation of household pets. Necessary supplies must be noncommercial purchases, subject to price limitations, which include pet foods, portable kennels/carriers, pet beds, and other items. The bill was signed by the Governor as Chapter No. 2023-157.

Georgia – HB 217 is an animal fighting bill that contains potentially problematic prohibitions on possessing, purchasing, or selling “fighting related objects.” AKC and the Georgia Canine Coalition seek clarifying language so that the use of treadmills and other common dog training, conditioning, and physical therapy “objects” cannot be misinterpreted. The bill is assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee and carries over to the 2024 session.

Georgia – HB 573 seeks to restrict sales and transfers of pets on roadsides, parking lots, and certain other public areas. It is assigned to the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and carries over to the 2024 session.

Georgia – SB 142 seeks to problematically expand the definition of “dangerous dog” to include any dog that “demonstrates a propensity for domination or aggressive behavior as indicated by any of the following types of conduct:  (i) Unprovoked barking, when people are present; (ii) Aggressively running along fence lines when people are present; or (iii) Escaping confinement or restraint to chase people.” Among other requirements, the owner of a “dangerous dog” would be required to provide proof of liability insurance in the amount of $500,000 specific to bodily injury or property damage caused by the dog. This overreaching bill has 36 co-sponsors. It is assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee and carries over to the 2024 session.

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 and a public hearing is expected on September 26. AKC will issue an opposition alert once details are confirmed.

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 and a public hearing is expected 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 and a public hearing is expected on September 26. AKC will issue an opposition alert once details are confirmed.

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. These re-filed bills would not require a pen or secure enclosure of 100 sq feet per dog, but in this session, they insert the problematic word “guardian” when referring to owners and keepers. The bills have been referred to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and a public hearing is expected on September 26. Read more.

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 and a public hearing is scheduled for September 27.

Michigan – House Bill 4838 seeks to restrict pet stores from only sourcing dogs from shelters and rescues.  While AKC and the state federation oppose this measure, we do appreciate that the bill clarifies the definition of “pet shop” does not include home-based breeders and hobbyists.  The bill has been assigned to the House Government Operations Committee.  In addition, several municipalities are seeking to pass measures on this issue and AKC is working with local clubs and other stakeholders to address concerns.

Montana – SB-280 institutes a low-cost licensing system for bird dog training of 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. At a February 7 public hearing, lawmakers expressed a desire to ensure animals’ safety and groomer compliance with best practices without having to create a state occupational license. The House Environment and Agriculture Committee retained the bill and requested the Department of Agriculture post an educational bulletin on standards for responsible groomers. The committee held a work session on September 12 where it was agreed that an amendment be drafted with this directive and considered in October.

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.

New Jersey – Assembly Bill 2354 and Senate Bill 981 seek 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. 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.

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.

Nevada – AB-86 revised animal cruelty laws in the state. AKC worked extensively with the sponsor to ensure that the revision protected responsible dog owners. The bill advanced out of the Assembly but stalled in the Senate. AKC supports the spirit of this proposal and looks forward to supporting it in a future session.

Nevada – SB-190 revised provisions relating to immunity from civil and criminal liability for certain actions taken to protect or remove a child or pet from a car. The bill unanimously passed the Senate but stalled in the Assembly. It will not advance this year.

Nevada –SB 331 This bill requires cities and subdivisions to designate at least one emergency shelter in their jurisdiction that can accommodate people and their pets. People not being able to find a place for their pets during an emergency is one of the biggest barriers preventing people from taking refuge when needed. AKC has testified in support of the proposal. The governor has signed it into law.

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.

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-2915 ends the sale of dogs and cats while exempting stores that currently sell such pets until September 1, 2028. The bill has passed out of the House and the Senate and was signed by the governor. AKC continues to have concerns over the erosion of consumer protections with the limitation of pet store sales of dogs and cats.

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.  The General Assembly has recessed for the summer.

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.  During the development of the legislation, AKC GR and a representative of the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs had conversations with the sponsor to confirm representation by the American Kennel Club, the state federation, a breeder, and sportsmen.  The bill was assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on June 14, 2023.

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, 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.

 Tennessee – HB 467/SB 568, pursuant to a divorce, annulment, or alimony action, would allow a court to provide for the ownership or joint ownership of any pet or companion animal owned by the parties, taking into consideration the well-being of the animal. HB 467 failed in the Children & Family Affairs Subcommittee of House Civil Justice Committee. SB 568 passed in the Senate. These bills carry over to year 2 of the 2023-2024 session.

 Tennessee – HB 991/SB 836 seek to prohibit an insurer of homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, or insurance that covers a manufactured or mobile home from making certain changes to or refusing to issue a policy based solely on the specific breed or mixture of breeds of a dog that lives or is cared for on the property. AKC supports breed-neutral legislation. HB 991 is assigned to the House Insurance Subcommittee. SB 836 is assigned to the General Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. These bills carry over to year 2 of the 2023-2024 session.

 Tennessee – HB 1320/SB 835 seek to criminalize restraining a dog with a chain, cord, tether, cable, or similar device under certain weather forecasts and during evacuation orders. A person would not be subject to prosecution unless the person previously received a warning citation. The bills do not consider that forecasted conditions may not occur where the dog is kept, or that tethers can be used to safely restrain a dog prior to or during an evacuation. HB 1320 is referred to the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. SB 835 was referred back to the General Subcommittee of Senate Judiciary Committee. Both bills carry over to 2024. View AKC’s most recent alert on these bills. 

 Texas – The Texas Licensed Breeder Advisory Committee met on September 1 to propose rules in response to the enactment of SB 876. The law went into effect on September 1st and requires someone that owns 5 or more intact dogs and is engaged in the business of breeding those dogs to secure a state license. Breeders with between 5 and 11 intact dogs have until January 21, 2024, to comply. AKC is requesting updates through rules to clarify who the law applies to and to ensure small scale breeders can comply with the law.

Texas – HB 2063 went into effect on September 1 and requires boarding kennel operators to inform clients in writing if their animals will be left unattended and without sprinkler systems.

Texas – The Texas’ Licensed Breeders Advisory Committee met on Friday, September 1, 2023.  The committee discussed how it will proceed with rule development to incorporate provisions of Senate Bill 876, which was enacted in June and expands the Texas’ Licensed Breeders Program to regulate those that own and/or breed five or more intact females.  It remains unclear how this law will be interpreted by TDLR.   As it did with the recent Texas Commission on Licensing and Regulation meeting, AKC provided public comment to the Committee, requesting an opportunity to work with it and the Commission to clarify to whom the new law applies to and to update regulations to ensure small scale breeders can comply with the law. For more information on SB 876, please view our past alerts. 

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. 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.

Washington – HB1012  provides state funding to localities for warming and cooling centers so people and their pets will be safe during extreme weather events. The bill passed overwhelming out of the House but stalled before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The AKC strongly supports the intent of this bill and looks forward to supporting similar legislation in the future.

Washington – HB-1234 lowers the threshold for an owner’s animals to be seized due to animal cruelty accusations. As currently constructed, the bill does not guarantee the return of animals in the event an owner is found free of any animal cruelty. AKC does appreciate the bill amendments that could return money paid for boarding an animal during judicial proceedings and attorney’s fees if the owner is found innocent. The bill was unanimously passed by the House and Senate and has been signed by the governor.

Washington – HB-1424 originally ended dog and cat sales at all pet stores in the state; the bill has now been amended to allow pet stores to continue to sell dogs and cats if they source animals from USDA licensed breeders and adhere to state and local regulations. AKC appreciates these amendments; however, AKC is concerned with another amendment that would remove the exemption for number of intact dogs allowed if a breeder was USDA licensed before January 1, 2010, thereby subjecting them to the state’s ownership limit law. The amended bill has passed both chambers and was signed by the governor on May 1.

Washington – HB-1634 would end the practice of insurance companies discriminating against specific breeds of dog when writing insurance policies. The bill did not make it out of its house of origin by the March 8 deadline and will not advance this year. AKC supports this bill and looks forward to working on a future version.