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Legislative Successes

Legislative Successes

The following list highlights some of the AKC Government Relations’ (AKC GR) legislative successes through July 23, 2019.  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 2019, as well as the latest information on all bills being tracked by the AKC Government Relations Department, visit the 2019 Legislation Tracking page.

U.S. Congress

H.R. 4577/H.R. 302 establishes a working group to develop a domestic canine breeding network to produce high-quality explosives detection canines and to modernize behavioral, technical and medical standards for these canines. AKC aided with drafting this measure and is working with members of Congress to advance it. AKC worked with stakeholders to place this measure into the 2018 Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill. The measure has passed Congress and was signed into law in early October. AKC GR is monitoring implementation of the breeding network and other aspects of the initiative.

H.R. 2 (the “Farm Bill) authorizes federal funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees implementation of the federal Animal Welfare Act and other federal animal-related regulations programs.  AKC, together with NAIA, successfully advocated for placing language in this measure that would require the government to track the number of dogs and being imported into the U.S. and their health status. AKC also supports the Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS – H.R. 909/S. 322), which was has also been added to the measure. PAWS adds federal protections for the pets that are harmed as part of the commission of a crime of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence. It also creates a program to provide grants to shelters to allow for certain victims to shelter with their pet.

Alabama

SB 10, a measure supported by AKC GR which penalizes the misrepresentation of a service animal, passed in both chambers and has been delivered to the governor.

Connecticut 

HB 5386 prohibits pet stores from sourcing dogs or cats from anywhere but animal welfare organizations.  AKC GR has expressed numerous concerns.  The bill was amended to require that the state Department of Agriculture research and report on the impact of a similar law recently enacted in California to assess to consumer satisfaction, enforcement problems for regulatory agencies and harm to business owners.  Despite heavy pressure to pass the original bill text, the bill did not advance prior to the close of the session.

SB 594 bans the predatory leasing of pets by finance companies.  AKC GR worked with the bill sponsor and committee to amend the bill prior to release from committee to clarify the ban would not apply to leasing of purebred dogs for breeding or exhibition, or for working animals trained and utilized to perform tasks such as service, guide or law enforcement.  The bill was signed into law on June 19th as Public Act 19-82.

Delaware

SB 139 as introduced would prohibit dogs from being outside for 15 minutes if there is a weather advisory, if the dog is unattended and not within sight of the owner – even if the dog is in the owner’s yard At the request of the AKC, the House Health and Human Services Committee struck this language.  As amended, the bill states that when a weather advisory has been issued, a dog may not be left out in conditions where its health and safety are at risk.  AKC and sportsmen groups are still asking for amendments to clarify that a dog may be off-leash when not on private property if participating in a field trial, hunt test, etc.  The bill as amended will likely be considered in the 2020 legislative session. Read the alert. 

Florida

HB 1409 sought to regulate commercial dog breeders and dealers. This bill contained numerous problematic and arbitrary provisions not based in sound science or accepted animal husbandry provisions. AKC GR provided analysis and talking points to Florida advocates who are worked to keep this bill from receiving a committee hearing. HB 1409 did not advance in the House Commerce Committee.

Indiana

Senate Bill 533 would require that any dog or cat being imported from a foreign county into Indiana be accompanies by a certificate of veterinary inspection or health certificate.  AKC supported this bill, which became law on April 18. Read the alert. 

Iowa

House File 738 (formerly House Study Bill 227) would make numerous changes to the state’s commercial breeder laws.  While some changes are positive, such as rewriting the definition of commercial breeder, so it no longer includes hobbyists, many provisions require further clarifications and changes.  AKC and local clubs submitted a number of suggested amendments to the bill, which was ultimately held in the House Ways & Means Committee. Read more about this legislation.

House File 737 (formerly House Study Bill 114) rewrites a number of the state’s cruelty laws.  As introduced, it had several unclear provisions, including making it unclear who is permitted to perform tail docking and dewclaw removal.  Another section states that if a person cannot afford the costs of veterinary care, they must transfer ownership to someone who can. It is unclear how this would impact situations when an owner may choose in conjunction with a veterinarian to make the dog as comfortable as possible, but to forgo extensive and expensive treatments. AKC and local clubs provided testimony and amendments to the sponsor and committee. Several changes requested were incorporated to address the most concerning parts of the bill, but some questions remain.  The bill was ultimately held in the House.

Senate File 369 (formerly Senate Study Bill 1075) as introduced provides clarifying changes regarding penalties for animal abuse and mistreatment.  Local kennel clubs have requested amendments to ensure that animal wardens permitted to handle abuse cases do not extend to third parties.  AKC contacted the sponsor to offer expertise and assistance.  The bill was ultimately held in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 4.

Kentucky

SB 67 establishes the crime of sexual offenses against animals and includes exceptions for accepted animal husbandry, artificial insemination, and conformation judging procedures as were recommended by AKC GR in response to bills filed in previous sessions. AKC GR worked with the Kentucky Houndsmen Association on an amendment that ensures protections for animals while not requiring the forfeiture of abused animals that are not owned by the offender. SB 67 has been signed by the Governor. Read the alert. 

Maine

LD 1049 extends the puppy health warranty of no hereditary or congenital defects to 5 years for breeders, but not shelters or rescues.  AKC GR, the state federation, and parent club members successfully had this provision removed from the bill.  The revised text signed by the Governor provides a purchase price remedy for health problems identified within the first year of purchase. Read the alert. 

Maryland

House Bill 501 as introduced would have amended the state’s tethering laws and ban dogs from being tethered outdoors for more than 30 minutes when the temperature is below 32 or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  AKC offered amendments to address concerns and provided talking points to local clubs and sportsmen.  AKC and its state federation also talked extensively to members of the House about concerns when hosting an event at the Maryland State Capitol in Annapolis to urge them to amend the bill.  The committee held a public hearing but ultimately decided to not allow the bill to advance.  Read more

HB 135 and SB 152, as introduced could have caused an owner to permanently lose ownership of their animals when they are suspected of cruelty – even if they are ultimately found not guilty – if they miss even one payment for the care of their animals during any trial and appeals.  All concerns expressed by the AKC, its federation, and local clubs were addressed in amendments.  The bills passed both chambers and await final action.  It was signed by the Governor and becomes law on October 1. Read the alert. 

Montana

As introduced, Senate Bill 320 would have required those who were accused of cruelty to pay for the cost of the animals during an ongoing trial, and if one payment was missed, the local animal shelter could have sold the animal.  AKC reached out and expressed concerns to the committee.  As passed by the House on April 13, the bill was significantly amended to address the majority of the AKC’s concerns, including allowing the owner to get the animal back if they are ultimately found not guilty. The bill passed both chambers of the Legislature and was signed into law by the governor.

HB 29 revises bird hunting laws in the state to ensure field trials and hunt testing with dogs do not occur in sensitive bird nesting areas. This bill came about when out of state groups held field trials on state land during nesting seasons. AKC GR contacted numerous Montana organizations that lobbied legislators. As a result of these efforts, the bill was amended and allows for field testing and hunt trials so long as they don’t interfere with nesting. The bill passed with near-unanimous votes in both houses of the legislature and was recently signed into law by the governor.

Nevada

Assembly Bill 165 would have allowed animal owners to collect non-economic damages for the death or injury of a pet. AKC GR was a member of a coalition that lobbied against the bill, which was successfully defeated in committee.

New York

As introduced, A. 722 would have prohibited all “contests” in which wildlife are killed or captured.  After hearing concerns from the AKC, its state federation, and numerous local clubs, the sponsor reached out to AKC GR to work on amendments.  It was amended to address AKC’s concerns, including exemptions for canine performance events and only applying the prohibition to contests where the object is to kill the most game.  The bill was left pending in the Assembly at the end of session but could be reconsidered in 2020.

A.6298/A.6299/S.4234/S.593 would have prohibited pet stores from selling dogs or cats unless they were sourced from shelters and rescues. AKC and numerous stakeholders expressed significant concerns with these bills that would have limited pet choice and consumer protection.  None of the bills received a hearing. Read the alert. 

S. 3828, supported by the AKC, provides reasonable clarifications to some of the care standards for animals kept by pet dealers. Pet dealers are defined in New York as those who sell more than 9 dogs in a year.  However, those who sell fewer than 25 that were bred and raised on their property are exempt.  This bill passed the Assembly and Senate and will likely be sent soon to the governor. Read the alert. 

Over 200 bills with the potential to impact dog owners were introduced in New York in 2019.  AKC GR issued numerous legislative alerts, directly reached out to key committee chairs and legislators, and assisted the state federation and local clubs with talking points and advocacy.  No negative bills were passed before adjournment and AKC GR continues to work in the interim to address concerning bills that could be considered in 2020. Read the alert. 

North Dakota

HB 1259 would make it an infraction (maximum fine $100) to knowingly make a false claim that a pet is a service animal in an attempt to gain admission to a public place or obtain a reasonable housing accommodation. AKC supports this bill, which was signed by the governor. Read the alert. 

Ohio

In January 2019, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) began interpreting a nearly 10-year old definition of “pet store” to include all who sell dogs in face-to-face transactions.  AKC sent an open letter to ODA outlining the error of their interpretation and asking they immediately reverse this action.  AKC GR met with key legislators in Columbus to discuss options for protecting hobbyists and home-based breeders.  As a result of these discussions, an amendment was included in the state budget and approved in July 2019 that clarifies that a pet store does not include home-based breeders or those who sell fewer than 40 dogs in a year. Read the alert.

Oklahoma

SB 950 would allow pet stores to operate in the state and prevent municipalities from passing laws to limit pet store sourcing.  The sponsor agreed to AKC’s requested amendment that clarifies a “pet store” does not include a person who sells dogs they have bred and raised on their premises.  The bill passed the Senate but was ultimately held in the House.

Oregon

When introduced, SB 723 as introduced, would have prohibited any hunting contest that used birds or animals and offered prizes. This language would have detrimentally affected dog hunt testing and field trials. Government Relations submitted comments that were included in the amendments that narrowed the bill’s focus solely to coyote hunting contests. The bill was ultimately held in a House committee. Read the alert. 

SB 439 would have prohibited confining of game birds or animals at hunting clubs and preserves, which would have significant effect on the hunting operations at these businesses and, by extension, the dog events that are frequently held at these locations. AKC GR submitted written testimony for multiple committees, did extensive analysis, issued numerous legislative alerts, and worked with the state federation and local hunting and field trial organizations on this bill.  The bill ultimately died in committee.

HB 2804 was introduced as a pet shop bill that would restrict retail pet stores from selling cats, rabbits and dogs unless they have come from rescue groups, humane societies or local animal services. We submitted a letter in opposition and worked with NAIA to stop this bill. The bill was amended in committee into a service animal bill, which died in committee when the legislature adjourned.

Rhode Island

The Cumberland Town Council proposed a dog breeder permit/license that allows breeding only in areas zoned for kennels unless a special permit is acquired.  Violations of the ordinance would result in a $500 penalty.  In response to AKC and the Providence Kennel Club’s concerns, the proposal has been continued for further discussion with the agreement to work cooperatively with AKC GR.  The council has tabled the issue in its entirety. Read the alert. 

Tennessee 

HB 852 sought to enhance animal cruelty penalties. An amendment was discussed in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee that, among other extensive provisions, would direct the court to impose vastly increased penalties, including imprisonment and significant fines, for any offense; expand the confiscation of animals to include other equipment and property based on an accusation; 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 operating in the state or in a county. These proposed increased penalties did not distinguish between a correctible issue such as a spilled water container that does not result in harm to an animal. and heinous acts of animal torture.  The subcommittee deferred the bill to Summer Study.

HB 1190, a measure supported by AKC GR which penalizes the misrepresentation of a service or support animal, was enacted as Public Chapter 236 and becomes law on July 1, 2019.

Texas

SB 476 would permit businesses to allow patrons to bring dogs to their outdoor dining areas if they choose, so long as certain standards are met.  AKC GR supported this bill, which was signed by the governor.

Virginia

House Bill 1625 originally clarified laws regarding outdoor shelter laws, but was significantly amended in the Senate Agriculture Committee to include unreasonable tethering laws and a provision that will allow local governments to pass new, stricter laws on basic standards of animal care including food, water, exercise, and veterinary treatment.  A conference committee removed the problematic language and once again clarifies requirements for what constitutes “adequate shelter”.  The amended bill was signed by the governor on March 18 and will be enacted on July 1. Read the alert. 

Senate Bill 1025 sought to regulate tethering, and also allowed localities to pass their own, stricter laws regarding the care of animals.  At the request of the AKC, its state federation, and numerous clubs and sportsmen, the bill was amended to address the majority of concerns and passed.  The governor requested some problematic amendments, and the AKC and its federation communicated concerns to the General Assembly, who voted on April 3 to reject these changes.  Read more about this legislation.

Washington

HB 1026 will prohibit local jurisdictions from passing breed-specific laws unless certain exemptions exist, such as an exception for a dog that has passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test or a similar training. AKC GR expressed support for this first step in prohibiting breed-specific laws in Washington. It passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by the governor. Read more about this legislation.

SB 5209 would have required all dogs and cats sold in retail businesses to have come from rescues, animal shelters or humane societies. AKC GR and other stakeholders expressed concerns with this measure.  The bill failed upon adjournment of the legislature. Read the alert.