State Issues: News from the State Capitols
Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking. Visit the 2018 Legislation Tracking page and click on your state to get the latest updates on state bills monitored by the AKC.
California – Assembly Bill 1762 would require California State Parks to post on its website details of where dogs are allowed within the state park system. AKC GR has sent a letter supporting this measure, which has passed the Assembly and is now in the Senate.
California – Assembly Bill 1776 is a pilot project for San Bernardino County that will authorize specified emergency medical personnel to transport a police dog injured in the line of duty to an appropriate veterinary care facility. The bill also includes search and rescue dogs, passive alert dogs, and service dogs in its definition of injured dogs that can be transported. The bill also removed most civil liabilities from both emergency medical personnel and their agencies for harm incurred during transport. The bill has passed out of the Assembly and passed the Senate Health Committee on June 25.
California – Assembly Bill 1780 would give the State Public Health Officer the option to monitor reports of outbreaks of communicable diseases affecting only humans in other states that were caused by imported dogs or cats, and prohibit those animals from being imported into California. The bill passed the Assembly and is now in the Senate.
California – Assembly Bill 2362 would establish health and safety standards for mobile dog and cat transportation facilities by requiring transporters to meet certain conditions as to heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting in their transportation facilities. The bill would be applicable to public animal control agencies or shelter, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animal shelters, humane society shelters, or rescue groups that works with at least one private or public shelter, and to a public or private for-profit entity that uses mobile or traveling housing facilities for dogs and cats. This bill has passed out of the Assembly and will be considered by the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development on July 2.
California – Assembly Bill 2445 would require a pet store operator to maintain records documenting the health, status, and disposition of each animal for at least two years after the animal is sold, and make these records available to individuals. This bill is something of an extension of Assembly Member O’Donnell’s AB 485, a 2017 bill that required pet shops to only sell pets from unregulated and uninspected sources (i.e., shelters, rescues, and other similar organizations). AB 245 will also require a pet store operator to provide the adoption policies of the organization that supplied each animal. This bill was passed out the Assembly and passed the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development on June 19. It is now pending a vote by the full Senate.
California – Senate Bill 1024 would allow the court to order anyone convicted of certain animal abuse crimes to undergo a mental health evaluation. After the mental health evaluation, the court could then mandatory mental health counseling. Those convicted of animal abuse and ordered to undergo counseling would be required to pay for the counseling on a sliding scale. After being amended, the bill passed out of the Assembly and is now in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Delaware – Senate Bills 216 and 217 would have restricted tethering and charge someone with cruelty who keeps their dogs outside when the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit unless an outdoor shelter is provided. It also prohibited tethering for more than 30 minutes between the hours of 11pm and 6am. There were no exceptions for humane tethering, hunting, dog events, or other safe and humane activities where someone may temporarily tether a dog. AKC spoke with the sponsor and provided amendments to address concerns with these bills, which were ultimately held in the House Appropriations Committee.
Idaho – Senate Bill 1312 would increase penalties for any person who purposely injures or harasses a service dog or a service dog in training, or allows an animal to injure the service dog. The bill also defines what constitutes a service dog and what does not. The bill has been referred to committee.
Illinois – SB 2380, initiated by AKC’s Illinois federation and being supported by the AKC, would create shelter reporting requirements for the state that will provide essential data on exactly where and why animals are coming into Illinois shelters, and what happens to them once they are there. It has unanimously passed the full House and Senate. Read more about this legislation.
Massachusetts — Senate Bill 2331 (formerly Senate Bill 1155) would expand restrictions on dog breeders, establish fines for anyone who fails to license their kennel or require them to relinquish ownership of their dogs, and create regulations for those who own eight intact female dogs. The AKC has joined local dog owners and other organizations in testifying in opposition to these bills. SB 2331 was passed by the Massachusetts Senate on March 15. Read AKC’s legislative alert for more information on these bills.
Massachusetts – Senate Bill 2347 and House Bill 4565 (formerly Senate Bills 2332 and 1159) features many provisions, including increases in fines for violations of dog control laws and licensing and sales requirements. It also contains provisions that restrict insurance companies from canceling or covering based on the breed of dog kept on the insured premises. As SB 2332, the bill passed the Senate. The bill was renumbered as SB 2347 and the House Ways and Means Committee amended the bill in the form of House Bill 4565. HB 4565 passed the House in early June, but the Senate failed to concern in the House amendments. On July 17, conference members were appointment but have not yet met to consider the differences between the bills.
Massachusetts – House Bill 3212 seeks to create consumer protections for pet store purchasers, mandates extensive shelter record keeping requirements, and prohibits local pet store sales bans. AKC GR testified in support of this bill, which is currently under the cognizance of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Massachusetts – House Bill 4647 sought to provide tax credits for individuals who adopt certain dogs from a shelter. While appreciating the bill’s intent, AKC expressed concerns that H.4647 would result in unintended consequences, including incentivizing a larger number of out-of-state dog imports into Massachusetts for the express purpose of supplying shelters with animals. The Joint Revenue Committee considered HB 4647 on July 17. The bill was sent to study and no further action is anticipated.
Michigan –Senate Bill 741 would prohibit local governments from enacting or enforcing policies that regulate dogs based upon its breed or perceived breed. AKC supports this bill, which has passed the Senate and is pending in the House Local Government Committee.
Michigan –House Bills 5916 and 5917 would regulate pet stores and allow them only to source animals from shelters, rescues, or qualified breeders. AKC GR and its Michigan federation are working with stakeholders on clarifying amendments. The bills have passed the House Agriculture Committee and are pending a vote by House.
Montana –The state is considering a proposal that would ban the use of all state lands for dog field trials and testing. Although the state legislature is not in session this year, the legislature’s Environmental Quality Council is discussing the proposal on July 26, which could lead to this legislation being introduced in the 2019 session. The public comment period has ended and AKC GR is conferring with local dog clubs and stakeholders to oppose this initiative. Read more about this proposal and what you can do.
New Jersey – Assembly Bill 781 would establish a process for recovering the cost of caring for domestic companion animals involved in animal cruelty investigations. The AKC is concerned that A781 does not require courts to consider whether the defendant is able to pay, and also that costs are a lien against the animal until all payments have been made. To ensure that individuals are not erroneously deprived of their property, the AKC recommended that A781 be amended to require courts to determine a defendant’s ability to pay. The bill was amended in line with AKC’s recommendation. It passed the Assembly on June 21 and is pending in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
New Jersey – Assembly Bill 2318 and Senate Bill 1860 seeks 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 an owner if an animal was not actually in danger or to protect owners from liability if an animal escapes or harms someone as a result of being removed from the vehicle. An amended version of A2318 was passed by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on May 17. An original version of S1860 passed the Senate Economic Growth Committee on May 31. S1860 was subsequently amended twice on the floor of the Senate in late June before being passed unanimously on July 1.
New Jersey – Senate Bill 1209 would prohibit a person from performing or causing to be performed, the declawing or flexor tendonectomy procedure by any means on a cat or other animal unless the procedure is deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose by a licensed veterinarian. Those found to violate this provision would be guilty of a disorderly persons offense, which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a term of imprisonment of up to six months, or both. A violator would also be subject to a civil penalty of between $500 and $2,000. The AKC expressed concerns to the Senate Economic Growth Committee that S.1209 may impact the valid, humane, and common veterinary procedure of dewclaw removal on dogs, and requested the bill be amended to specifically provide an exception for that procedure. The bill passed that committee and was re-referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
New Jersey – Introduced on July 1, S 2820 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 is 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 is already working with grassroots leaders and key contacts to oppose S 2820 should it gain any traction. The bill has been referred to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. It is not scheduled for a hearing.
Ohio – House Bill 263 and Senate Bill 182 would allow dogs in outdoor eating establishments with permission from the business owner. AKC is supporting this bill, which would allow responsible dog owners more opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities with their well-behaved pets. HB 263 has passed the General Assembly and is pending action by the governor.
Ohio – HB 539 would declare the Labrador Retriever the State Dog. AKC GR is working with the sponsor in support of this measure, which has passed the House State and Local Government Committee.
Rhode Island – As introduced, House Bill 7045 would have removed performance-based exceptions for hunting and sled dogs that currently appear in the state’s tethering law. The AKC expressed concerns that H.7045 was unreasonable and failed to respect the purposes for which hunting and sledding breeds are kept and how they may be humanely acclimated to environmental conditions prior to doing the work for which they were bred. The bill was amended to allow for such tethering of hunting, herding, and sled dogs if previously approved by law enforcement officials. HB 7045 passed the House in early April, and a companion bill, Senate Bill 2055, has also passed both houses in late June. Both bills were signed into law by Governor Raimondo on July 2, 2018.
Rhode Island – House Bill 7615 would protect homeless persons in possession of a service animal, as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), from being denied access to any homeless shelter in violation of the ADA or the state or federal Fair Housing Practices Act. AKC expressed support of this bill, which was also enacted on July 2, 2018.
Washington – HB 2822 aligns the definition of a “service dog” with the ADA and makes it a civil infraction to misrepresent a pet as a service dog. AKC provided testimony to both houses in support. The bill passed both houses and has been delivered to the Governor.
Washington – Senate Bill 6076 would specifically define behaviors that constitute animal abuse and animal sexual abuse. AKC GR is aware of the legislation and tracking it.
Washington – Senate Bill 6623 would have required pet shops to sell only cats or dogs obtained from an animal shelter, dog pound, or rescue. It also required pet shop to spay or neuter all dogs sold and to maintain for records documenting the source of the dog or cat sold. AKC GR expressed concerns with the bill as introduced and provided more reasonable alternatives. The bill did not make it out of committee before the legislature adjourned.
Washington – Senate Bill 6624 required any facility that uses dogs for research and receives public funding or has a tax-exempt status to offer any research animal slated for euthanasia to a rescue organization. AKC recommended changes that recognized that the owners of the animals and their current adoption partners should have first refusal to make re-homing decisions for any animals they are working with. This bill did not make it out of committee before the legislature adjourned.