The following list highlights some of the AKC Government Relations’ (AKC GR) legislative successes through March 31, 2021. 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 2021, as well as the latest information on all bills being tracked by the AKC Government Relations Department, visit the AKC Legislative Action Center at www.akcgr.org.
In February, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture adopted new regulations implementing changes in law made back in 2011 and 2017 requiring oversight of the state’s animal shelters and animal importers. These new rules provide standards for buildings and premises; ventilation and temperature; and animal care requirements, including staffing requirements, enclosure size and design standards, rules for feeding and access to clean water, cleaning requirements, and access standards. The rules also provide updates for commercial kennels (limited to boarding kennels, grooming facilities, and veterinary kennels that provide boarding and grooming for nonmedical purposes), pet shops, and training facilities.
Senate Bill 1, among other provisions, would protect any “person” (including but not limited to individuals, associations, etc.) from civil liability for damages or injury “resulting from exposure of an individual to coronavirus.” This includes premises owned or managed by a person, and activities managed, organized, or sponsored by a person. AKC supported this bill, which could provide protections for shows and events in the state. The bill was signed by the governor.
On March 1, 2021, the House Municipal and County Government considered HB 467, which would amend the “Use Taxation” law so that “open space land” would not apply to “any farm land or forest land used to harbor non-native, non-domesticated animal species”. AKC GR and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation testified that some facilities where dog owners train with non-native birds (i.e., pheasants) would be negatively impacted. The committee voted the bill inexpedient to legislate. Read AKC GR’s alert on this issue.
Two bills regarding rabies vaccinations were considered by the House Environment and Agriculture Committee on February 17, 2021. AKC GR issued an alert that HB 322 would require a color photo of a dog, cat, or ferret to be attached to its rabies vaccination certificate and HB 367 would require rabies antibody tests after vaccination and allow rabies titers in lieu of rabies vaccination for dogs with a reaction to initial vaccination. After hearing concerns about cost and adequate protection, including testimony from AKC GR and NH DOGS, the committee voted unanimously to reject both bills.
AKC GR worked closely with NH Beagle clubs to express concerns about HB 118, which would change the qualifications for commissioners appointed to the NH Fish and Game Commission. Instead of sporting clubs providing nominees for appointment, the bill would authorize “participating organizations,” defined as organizations with wildlife or conservation experience, to nominate individuals. The House Fish and Game Committee decided at public hearing on February 1, 2021 that the bill was not ready and has retained it. No further action on HB 118 will take place this year.
As introduced, House Bill 1580 contained unclear tethering provisions that could have resulted in unintended consequences impacting responsible dog owners and outdoor dog events. AKC expressed concerns with the bill. After discussions with the sponsor, he agreed to hold the bill and work with AKC, clubs, and sportsmen in the interim on developing a tethering proposal that addresses concerns of cruelty without harming responsible owners.
On January 25, 2021 the town council of Tiverton, RI adopted changes to its dogs “at large” and nuisance ordinance. AKC GR worked closely with the sponsoring councilwoman to first provide a warning and AKC materials on how to stop barking dogs before issuing fines in violation of disturbing the peace. The council also adopted AKC’s suggested edits clarifying those instances when a dog may properly be off an owner’s property and off leash and therefore not subject to penalties.
House Bill 1046, which limits liability for certain exposures to COVID-19, was signed into law by Gov. Noem on Thursday, February 18, 2021.
As introduced, House Bill 420 would have banned the retail sale of pets at pet stores, unless they were sourced from a shelter or rescue. The definition of “pet store” was so broad it could also have encompassed home-based breeders and hobbyists. AKC GR expressed concerns with the bill, and issued an alert to Utah clubs. The bill was tabled for the year and did not move prior to adjournment on March 5.
HB 2109 originally sought to expand the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services by adding an at-large member who is expert in companion animal welfare who is employed by a releasing agency in the Commonwealth. AKC GR, its state federation, and others expressed concerns and asked for an expansion to ensure all animal welfare experts were represented. A substitute bill offered would removed the provision and instead required that at least one of the congressional district appointees to be a veterinarian licensed and currently practicing in the Commonwealth. The bill ultimately failed in subcommittee.
Senate File 24 sought to address the issue of caring for animals seized on suspicion of cruelty. AKC expressed significant concerns with Senate Bill 24, which could have caused someone to permanently lose ownership of their animals if they fail to pay for care – even if they are found not guilty. The Senate Agriculture, State, Public Lands, & Water Committee tabled this bill and it will not advance.