The following list highlights some of the AKC Government Relations’ (AKC GR) legislative successes through October 12, 2020. These and other victories have been won in cooperation with AKC federations, clubs, and responsible dog owners and breeders around the country who continue to work tirelessly to promote positive canine legislation in their state and community.
To view all Legislative Alerts posted for your state in 2020, as well as the latest information on all bills being tracked by the AKC Government Relations Department, visit the 2020 Legislation Tracking page.
AB 2257 (previously AB 1850) addresses concerns raised by a law passed in 2019 that requires certain independent contractors to be treated as employees. The concern was raised that this could require clubs to provide benefits, workers compensation, etc. to judges contracted for local shows at great legal and economic expense. In response to these concerns, the AKC and other groups requested and supported an amendment included in the bill that clearly exempts competition judges from this law. The bill signed by the governor includes this important amendment. Read more.
AB 2152 amends a law passed in 2017 that prohibits pet stores from selling animals unless they are sourced from shelters and rescues. In particular, it addresses a concern whereby a small number of pet stores in the state were obtaining dogs from irresponsible breeders falsely identifying as rescues. As introduced, the bill stated that pet stores could not work with rescues affiliated with breeders in any way. This implied that no breeders should be involved in rescue work – negating the important and essential work done by many responsible breed rescues. AKC worked with the sponsor to amend the bill to instead state that rescues sourcing to pet stores may not breed rescue dogs. In other words, the version of the bill signed into law bans rescue organizations from breeding dogs, but no longer prevents breeders from being affiliated with a rescue. Read AKC’s blog for more information on this amendment.
Assembly Bill 2691 would have significantly regulated and restricted dog training in the state, and those who use dog training facilities. AKC GR communicated numerous concerns with the sponsor, who ultimately held the bill.
Senate Bill 1041 would have banned using dogs to hunt deer and made numerous false and inaccurate claims regarding hunting game in the state. This was another attempt to alter activities for which a dog was originally bred. AKC expressed concerns with this bill, which was ultimately held in committee.
HB 20-1084 would have only allowed pet stores to showcase dogs from shelters and rescues. It also contained four pages of inaccurate, broad, and offensive statements about dog breeders. AKC GR worked with its state federation, local pet stores, and AKC clubs to express numerous concerns with this bill, which died in committee.
SB 20-78 would allow restaurants to allow well-behaved, leashed dogs in their outdoor dining areas, so long as certain criteria are met. AKC and its Colorado federation are supporting this bill, which passed the legislature and was sent to the governor on March 17.
The Connecticut legislature has adjourned for the year and problematic bills that AKC GR drafted testimony on were not adopted.
HB 5368 would have established a task force composed of political appointees to study the use of breed of dog as an underwriting factor for homeowner’s insurance policies with no guarantee that the interests of dog owners would have been represented on the taskforce. It died upon adjournment.
SB 388 would have required the Connecticut Sentencing Commission review the animal cruelty laws in the state and other states and make recommendations, if any, to the legislature for changes to state laws. It died upon adjournment.
HB 5475 would have given cities and towns the local authority to further regulate and ban pet stores. It died upon adjournment.
SB 1084, which prohibits discrimination in housing provided to a person with a disability or a disability-related need for an emotional support animal, prohibits a health care practitioner from providing information regarding a person’s need for an emotional support animal without having personal knowledge of that person’s need for the animal, and prohibits the falsification of information or other fraudulent misrepresentation regarding the use of an emotional support animal. SB 1084 was enacted.
SB 48 would have subjected a veterinarian to disciplinary action by the Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine for declawing a cat when it is not necessary for therapeutic purposes. The bill died in committee.
SB 1082 authorizes a court in a domestic violence situation to award to the petitioner both temporary and exclusive care, possession, or control of an animal, except an animal owned primarily for a bona fide agricultural purpose or a service animal handled by the respondent. It also provides that courts may order the respondent to have no contact with the animal and enjoin the respondent from taking, transferring, harming, or disposing of the animal. AKC GR monitored this bill and supported it as amended.
SB 522, as originally introduced, sought to make it a criminal offense to allow a dog to be outside and unattended when the temperature is below 32 degrees or during a severe weather advisory/warning, even if the dog is never at risk or suffers no harm. An amendment to the bill recommended by AKC GR was included, in part, in a Committee Substitute. AKC GR requested, but did not receive, an additional clarifying amendment to provide for the protection of dogs while ensuring that charges would not be brought against an owner whose dog is not at risk. SB 522 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 363 / SB 186 would have provided that certain contracts for the sale or lease of a pet are unenforceable. AKC supports a ban on predatory pet leasing schemes that victimize potential owners, and recommended amendments to exempt the type of lease used by responsible breeders to preserve specific bloodlines and maintain genetic diversity. SB 186 was favorably amended; however, the bill died in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. Read more.
HB 1237 and SB 1698 would have set out requirements for where pet stores may source dogs and cats; provided for enhanced conditions and veterinary care for dogs and cats in pet stores, and replaced the current patchwork of local requirements for pet stores. As originally filed, this bill contained unacceptable definitions of breeders and other problematic provisions. AKC GR worked with stakeholders on an amendment that addressed these concerns. Both bills died in committees. Read more.
SB 1044, among other provisions, would have required veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty against a dog or cat to a law enforcement or animal control agency, and required certain other persons to report suspected animal cruelty to a veterinarian. The bill also provided certain exemption from liability for reporting suspected animal cruelty. AKC GR recommended that the bill be substantially amended. SB 1044 died in the Rules Committee.
SB 1048 would have allowed courts to appoint an animal advocate to pursue the “interests of an animal” in certain court proceedings; grant powers to such individuals; and required the Animal Law Section of the Florida Bar to maintain a list of attorneys and certified legal interns who are eligible to be appointed for such purposes. SB 1048 died in the Judiciary Committee.
SB 359, which was amended as the “Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act,” provides certain immunities for COVID-19 related tort claims that are not the result of gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm. It further establishes assumption of risk presumptions and sets out provisions whereby entities can provide notification of waiver of risk through the posting of specified signage and other methods. AKC GR encouraged support of reasonable liability protections that would benefit AKC clubs and animal-related businesses.
SB 338, among other provisions, would have increased the maximum pet dealer (breeder) license fee to $800 per year, required an applicant to provide a current criminal background check, and required licensed pet dealers and shelters to post surety with the state. As introduced, the bill would have lowered the threshold for breeder licensure; however, AKC and the Georgia Canine Coalition provided amendment language that includes maintaining current licensing thresholds, which was adopted by the Senate. SB 338 passed in the Senate but did not receive a hearing in House committee prior to end of session. Read the alert
House Bill 2163 and Senate Bill 2512 sought to limit the practices of surgical births, debarking, tail docking, and ear cropping by prohibiting an animal’s owner, and the owner’s employees, from performing these procedures. As worded, veterinarians who own animals would have been prohibited from performing these practices on their personal animals. AKC GR posted alerts and submitted testimony expressing concerns. The bills failed upon adjournment of the 2020 legislative session.
Broadly-worded Senate Bill 677 sought to further prohibit tethering practices. AKC GR posted alerts and submitted testimony expressing concerns of unintended consequences from the bill’s broad language. The bill failed upon adjournment.
SB 21 provides that a veterinarian who finds that an animal with which he or she has a veterinarian-client patient relationship has been abused, the veterinarian may make a report to the Office of the State Veterinarian and to law enforcement for any other animal owned by that person. AKC GR opposed the bill as originally introduced because it compelled the actions of a veterinarian, but worked to amend the measure to provide other reasonable assistance in reporting abuse cases. The measure was enacted.
SB 425would have allowed the confiscation of any animal on the premises where an arrest is made for dogfighting. AKC GR opposed the bill because it would have enabled confiscation of animal not involved in an offense and not owned by the accused. SB 425 did not advance in committee prior to end of session.
Acts 336 and 362 HB 826 and SB 425) grant certain liability protections for persons, businesses, and other entities from claims related to COVID-19 exposure. These protections are retroactive to March 11, 2020. AKC GR encouraged support of reasonable liability protections that would benefit AKC clubs and animal-related businesses.
HB 406 and SB 627 originally sought to address the issue of unattended dogs in extreme weather conditions. AKC GR was concerned that the legislation could impact dog shows, field trials, rally, agility, hunting, and other activities. AKC GR staff discussed concerns with the sponsor. As such, the sponsor agreed to exempt certain activities such as training, hunting, and sledding. It passed the House, but not the Senate prior to the end of session. The sponsor has reached out to AKC to work together for the 2021 session.
HB 863 as introduced sought to ban organized “hunting or killing contests”, to stop activities such as coyote hunting. AKC GR and sportsmen groups expressed concerns on the impact to hunting, field trial, and similar events. AKC GR staff met with the sponsor to discuss the bill, which was amended to clarify that it does not include “lawful dog training or dog performance competitions.” It passed the House but did not ultimately pass the Senate before the end of session. The sponsor has committed to including this amendment in the 2021 version of the bill.
SB 625 originally sought to regulate the Internet sales of animals by pet stores. This concerned many who use Facebook or other internet “brag” pages to showcase their dogs and puppies for sale. The sponsor spoke with AKC GR, and all references to Internet sales were removed. It further clarified for the first time in Maryland law that home-based breeders are not considered retail pet stores. It passed the Senate, but did not pass the House before the end of session. AKC GR has contacted the sponsor and asked that, if the bill is reintroduced in 2021, it include these amendments. Read more.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources announced June 4, 2020,it had finalized adoption of detailed regulations overseeing animal rescue and shelter organizations and updated regulations for pet shops. A public hearing with strong opposition from animal rights activists was held last April. AKC GR testified in support, submitted written testimony and at numerous grassroots advocacy presentations over the year, encouraged kennel clubs to email the Governor in support. The new rules require annual registration, basic sanitary conditions, core vaccinations prior to importation, record keeping; and adopters may return animals for a full refund of the adoption fee if a medical condition or behavior issue not disclosed is discovered by a veterinarian within 14 days of placement. The 330 CMR 30.00 details are here.
S.990 would have imposed unreasonable restrictions on tethering for dogs. AKC GR and its state federation expressed numerous concerns with this bill, which the Joint Judiciary Committee ultimately sent to study.
H. 1444 would have changed the legal status of pets. AKC GR and its state federation expressed numerous concerns with this bill, which the Joint Judiciary Committee ultimately sent to study.
H.1561 and H.3258 would have established non-economic damages for the loss of a pet. AKC GR and its state federation expressed numerous concerns with this bill, which the Joint Judiciary Committee ultimately sent to study.
H.2573 would have established tax credits to promote shelter adoptions. AKC GR expressed concerns with this bill, which was ultimately sent to study.
S.118 would have required licensure for all dog trainers in the state. AKC GR joined other organizations in expressing concerns with many of the provisions in this bill, which was ultimately sent to study.
S.504 would have established licensing for all dog breeders in the state. AKC GR and its state federation expressed numerous concerns with this bill, which was ultimately sent to study.
H.755 would have established oversight exemptions for importation of animals for rescue, shelter, foster, adoption or remote sale. AKC GR expressed numerous concerns with this bill, and it was ultimately sent to study.
House File 3369 and Senate File 3307 sought to limit consumer choice in the state by restricting the sources of animals sold in pet shops. AKC GR issued alerts and provided testimony in opposition to the bills, both of which failed upon adjournment.
House File 3584 and Senate File 3481 sought to create the Minnesota Companion Animal Board, which would have been given broad powers to regulate animal welfare in the state. Although they required that, “one “member must be a companion animal breeder”, the rest of the Board would have been comprised of 12 other members, most many of whom would not have the level of animal husbandry expertise and experience of breeders and sportsmen, nor will they have been directly impacted by the Board’s actions. AKC GR posted alerts and submitted testimony requesting the Board be required to have greater representation of licensed entities. The bills failed upon adjournment.
SB 2311 contains language supported by AKC GR to reenact provisions that allow certain emergency responders to transport a police dog injured in the line of duty for treatment if there are no persons requiring medical attention or transport at that time. These provisions had been scheduled to end on July 1, 2020. The bill, including the provisions supported by AKC, passed and was approved by the Governor.
SB 2723 gives the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks the authority to extend certain open hunting seasons that end on a Friday to 30 minutes after sunset on the following Sunday. SB 2723 was approved by the Governor and takes effect July 1, 2020.
SB 3049, as amended, provides certain protections from civil damages for injury or death related to COVID-19 to entities that attempt in good faith to follow applicable public health guidance. SB 3049 was signed by the Governor. AKC GR encouraged support of reasonable liability protections that would benefit AKC clubs and animal-related businesses.
AKC GR submitted testimony and spoke with Commissioner to NH Fish and Game in opposition to Voices of Wildlife petition to repeal regulations allowing beagle clubs to contain snow shoe hare for training and trials. At the Commission’s August board meeting, the petition was voted down.
HB 1234 swiftly incorporated multiple bills pending before COVID-19 shortened the legislative session. Included was the establishment of a state Animal Health Certificate Database to track any transfer of a dog, cat, or ferret by those required to submit health certificates to the Department of Agriculture. Although improvements to the original bill had been made, the text included in HB 1234 had limited sanctions for breaches of data confidentiality and other issues. Governor Sununu vetoed HB 1234 on July 28, 2020.
HB 1388 would prohibit the sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits by pet vendors. House Environment and Agriculture Committee recommended not to pass, and the House adopted the recommendation.
HB 1560 – created a class B felony for anyone who subjects an animal to “unnecessary suffering of any kind”. The House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety omitted the bill’s reference to criminal code for humans and made other changes adopted by the House. The bill was laid on the table in the Senate June 16, 2020.
SB 608 would authorize the public to take whatever action they believe necessary to rescue an animal subject to extreme temperature in a motor vehicle, free from legal liability. The bill was laid on the table with no further action taken.
HB 1381 and HB 1542 would have added dogs to the list of “victims” under a law that authorizes any person who believes it necessary to take independent action to rescue children and vulnerable adults due to possible extreme temperatures in a motor vehicle, to do so free of legal liability.
HB 1164 would have authorized the court to appoint a volunteer law student or lawyer as an animal advocate during prosecution for cruelty charges. House Committee on Judiciary recommended not to pass, and the House adopted the recommendation.
HB 1542 classifies dogs as victims, along with children and vulnerable adults by changing law to authorize any person to take any action to rescue them, without any liability, if they believe it necessary due to extreme temperatures in a motor vehicle. House Committee on Judiciary recommended not to pass and the House adopted the recommendation.
HB 1602 would have created an animal abuser registry. AKC GR expressed concerns that no evidence indicates their effectiveness in reducing animal cruelty and resources are better utilized to enforce the law. The House adopted the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety’s recommendation that the bill be inexpedient to legislate.
HB 1683 would have criminalized the cropping/docking, dewclaw removal or debarking of a dog. AKC GR worked with its state federation to oppose this bill, which was voted down.
HB 1389 would have criminalized leaving dogs outside and unattended in certain temperatures without considering breed differences. AKC GR and its state federation expressed numerous concerns and it was voted down.
AB 5680 would have prohibited tethering a dog outdoors between the hours of 11pm and 6am, unless the dog is being used for herding or protecting farm animals. It was unclear if this would include temporary tethering. The bill also included regulations for tethering at other times of day, including permitting tethering for up to three hours so long as that has been approved by animal control in writing. A supervised dog tethered for up to 15 minutes was exempt from this bill. While the AKC had no objection to some of the requirements for tethering outlined in this bill, much of it was arbitrary and did not take into account many humane situations in which a dog may be humanely tethered. AKC expressed concerns with this bill, which was ultimately held in the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
The Wildlife Resources Commission proposed an emergency rule regarding rabbit pens that could have negatively impacted the training of beagles for field trials. AKC GR communicated directly with the commission and assisted local clubs with their communications. The commission agreed to table the ordinance and work with local clubs to address concerns.
On June 22, 2020 Department of Environmental Management regulations for the temporary import of animals into the state for fair, exhibition or show become final. AKC GR and the Rhode Island Kennel Clubs worked closely with the State Veterinarian to ensure that the final rule creates a process for identifying any animal that may pose a risk of infectious disease and its removal, but without the proposed text that would have required a veterinarian on-site for the duration of the event and reporting to the agency the color of every entry.
The Smithfield town council considered a pet retail and “commercial establishment” ban on selling dogs or cats unless sourced from an animal shelter or rescue. This would have included, but not be limited to grooming or boarding facilities. On behalf of Providence County Kennel Club and Rhode Island Kennel Club, AKC GR submitted written testimony and spoke in opposition to the proposed ordinance with club members in attendance. The council adopted an amendment drafted by AKC GR and a member of the Providence County Kennel Club to instead prohibit the sale of dogs by commercial establishments in violation of state law, and adopt an express hobby breeder exemption from any restrictions.
SB 136 allows therapy dogs to accompany vulnerable witnesses when testifying in courts. Before the introduction of a certified therapeutic dog into the courtroom, the party desiring to utilize the dog shall, outside the presence of the jury, file a motion containing the pertinent information. AKC GR supported this bill, which became law.
SB 84 allows any person with certain disabilities, including certain psychiatric and mental disabilities, to be accompanied by a service animal especially trained for the purpose, without being required to pay an extra charge for the service animal. AKC GR supported this bill, which became law.
SB 8002/SB 8001, titled the Tennessee COVID-19 Recovery Act, provides protection from civil liability for loss, damages, injury, or death arising from COVID-19, unless a claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that there was gross negligence or willful misconduct. Among covered entities are individuals, corporations, and any legal entity whether for-profit or not-for-profit. The Act, signed on August 17, is effective immediately and will be automatically repealed on July 1, 2022. Certain claims filed, notified, or satisfied on or before August 3, 2020, are excluded. AKC GR alerted clubs of the new law.
HB 281 / SB 436 sought to regulate “pet stores” at the state level. AKC GR had requested that these bills be clarified so that individuals and breeders who sell a dog directly to a buyer are excluded from the definition of “retail pet store”. These bills did not advance in the 2019-2020 session.
HB 852 / SB 1277 sought to enhance aggravated animal cruelty penalties. A proposed 2019 amendment to the bill sought to direct a court to impose vastly increased penalties for any offense; expand confiscation to include animals, equipment, and property; 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. An amendment proposed in 2020 sought to authorize non-governmental “societies” to seize animals; require the seizure of animals when a person is taken into custody on an accusation of a violation of certain offenses involving animals; require that animals not subjected to alleged cruelty also be seized if is believed that they could be at risk of being the subject of some future offense; require that seized animals be placed in the custody of a specified list of entities that excluded veterinarians, co-owners, and boarding facilities; and require that any second or subsequent conviction for simple animal cruelty be a felony. AKC GR submitted letters of concern in 2019 and 2020 regarding the proposed amendments. HB 852 was taken off notice in subcommittee in May. Read AKC’s most recent alert.
HB 2543 / SB 2442 would have provided that if an animal control agency takes possession of an animal due to the death of the animal’s owner and the owner’s relative fails to retrieve the animal within seven days, it shall be treated as an abandoned animal. AKC GR requested, but did not receive, an amendment to HB 2543 to provide that a relative, co-owner, or other authorized person who contacts the animal control agency within seven days and states intent to retrieve the animal shall be granted additional time. Additional time could be conditioned upon payment of a reasonable and customary boarding fee to the impounding agency. Both bills failed to advance prior to end of session.
SB 6300/HB 2317 sought to equate animal and human pain, which could have resulted in numerous unintended consequences. AKC GR was a leader in a group of stakeholders who educated the sponsors and successfully had the “pain” language removed. AKC GR was also successful in amending a section regulating the type of anesthesia that must be used for tail docking or ear cropping, and in working to ensure provisions regarding allowing dogs outdoors consider the dog’s breed, age, and ability to handle the conditions. The bill with amendments recommended by the AKC is on the governor’s desk.
HB 2344/SB 6221 and HB 1640 and SB 5209 would have banned the sale of any pet at a retail pet store unless the animal is a dog or cat obtained from a rescue organization or an animal control agency. AKC GR expressed concerns with these bills, which ultimately did not pass.
AB 298 would have banned the sale of dogs and cats at pet stores, unless they originate from shelters or rescues. AKC GR expressed concerns with this proposal and recommended instead a comprehensive consumer protection law for all who sell animals in the state. The bill did not advance before legislative deadlines.