The following list highlights some of the AKC Government Relations’ (AKC GR) legislative successes through March 31, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HB 1388 would have banned outright the sale of dogs, cats, ferrets and rabbits in pet shops. AKC GR expressed numerous concerns with this bill, which was voted down.
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 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.