The following list highlights some of the AKC Government Relations’ (AKC GR) legislative successes through December 31, 2022. 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 2022, 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.
House Bill 2323 states that for the purposes of homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, the breed of dog may not be the sole consideration for underwriting or determining risk or loss, questionnaires or surveys regarding the presence of a dog on the premises, or findings that a dog is dangerous for the purpose of providing insurance coverage. AKC worked with the sponsor and a broad range of stakeholders to protect responsible dog owners in the state who are seeking to obtain insurance. AKC believes this is a good first step to protecting the rights of dog owners seeking home or renter’s insurance in the state. The bill was signed by the governor.
House Bill 2626 requires shelters to scan for a microchip when obtaining an animal and make reasonable efforts to locate the owner. The bill also amends several other requirements for animal shelters. AKC supported this bill, which was signed by the governor.
AB 1881 as introduced established a “Dog and Cat Bill of Rights”. The Assembly removed all references to the word “rights” in the actual code text and made other text changes at the request of AKC and local shelters. The amendments also clarified that the purpose is solely for education. AB 1881 ultimately failed on the Senate floor.
AB 1901 as introduced would have regulated all trainers in the state as boarding kennels, regardless of whether dogs are kept overnight. AKC, dog trainers, clubs, and many others expressed opposition to this proposal. The bill was ultimately amended to only require a trainer to disclose their name, address, and any civil judgements or cruelty convictions related to their training. This bill was signed by the governor and goes into effect on January 1, 2023.
Senate Bill 234 as introduced would have made significant changes to kennel and dog licensing laws. AKC GR understood the intent of the changes was to update and modernize processes, but issued an alert outlining concerns with the bill and expressed them at the Joint Environment Committee public hearing. In response, the committee chose not to advance SB 234, but amended HB 5295 to establish a working group at the Department of Agriculture to address concerns raised at the public hearing. AKC GR has been invited to participate. HB 5295 was signed into law on May 10.
Among other provisions, House Bill 5498 would have designated the shelter pet as Connecticut’s state pet. AKC GR posted information about the bill’s hearing. After hearing support and opposition to this provision, the Joint Government Administration and Elections Committee voted to place HB 5498 on the House consent calendar where it passed on April 28. The Senate did not take action on the bill prior to adjournment of the legislative session and the bill failed at the end of session on May 4.
Senate Bill 248 as introduced would have provided for damages of up to $15,000 in veterinary bills for injuries to a pet, the fair market value of a deceased pet, and up to $15,000 for emotional trauma (non-economic damages) suffered by the pet’s owner. AKC worked with a number of stakeholders to oppose this bill and request amendments. Ultimately, the sponsor, Senator Lopez, offered a substitute version that removed the non-economic damages language as well as the dollar limit recoverable for compensatory damages. The substitute version was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. AKC has thanked Senator Lopez for the substitute and continues to monitor the bill.
House Bill 253 sought to criminalize the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. The bill was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Senate Bill 172/House Bill 227 were “lawyers for animals” bills that, among other provisions, would have provided for the appointment of an advocate for the interests of an animal in certain court proceedings. SB 172 sought to provide that in certain civil or criminal court proceedings, the court may appoint, upon its own initiative or upon request of a party, an advocate to represent the interests of the animal, whether living or dead. HB 227 was withdrawn by the sponsor. SB 172 was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Senate Bill 226 establishes funding for the care of retired law enforcement dogs. AKC GR supported this legislation, which was enacted as Chapter No. 2022-188 and takes effect July 1, 2022. It passed unanimously in both the Florida Senate and House.
Senate Bill 420/House Bill 435 sought to increase penalties for certain crimes involving animals. House committee substitutes successfully deleted a problematic definition of animal husbandry opposed by AKC and animal advocates. Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Senate Bill 716/House Bill 307 sought to provide an exemption from public records requirements for records containing certain information pertaining to persons who have adopted an animal from an animal shelter or animal control agency operated by a local government. AKC was concerned that this could also hide pet trafficking under the guise of rescue by certain organizations from public oversight. Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Senate Bill 994/House Bill 849 among other provisions, sought to establish state licensure and regulation for pet stores; expand requirements and reporting for animal shelters and rescues, and preempt certain restrictions on pet stores and breeders. The Florida Association of Kennel Club and other advocates sought additional exemptions, which appeared in SB 994, for breeders who do not sell at wholesale. AKC GR closely monitored this legislation, which was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Senate Bill 1508/House Bill 1075 would have imposed significant limitations on tethering a dog, with certain exceptions. Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Senate Bill 1750/House Bill 1061 sought to expand the obligations of a pet vendor and certain breeders if a pet is found to have a health issue. It also would have increased record keeping requirements, placed limits on financial agreements for the sale of a pet, and pursuant to current consumer protection provisions for pet purchasers, remove the cap on reimbursement of veterinary costs (currently limited to the amount paid for the pet). Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Senate Bill 153 would have provided a court advocate to represent the interests of a dog or cat in cases involving the animal’s health, safety, or an injury. AKC abhors animal cruelty and strongly believes that those who harm animals should be held accountable. However, bills such as SB 153 implicitly establish rights for animals, but do nothing to improve the wellbeing of animals or enforce laws to protect animals. Moreover, changing the legal status of animals as property would ultimately hamstring the ability of owners, veterinarians, and government agencies to protect and care for dogs. This bill passed the Senate, but the House sponsor ultimately held it on the House floor, when he acknowledged that there were some concerns that still need to be addressed.
House Bill 3917 would have made a number of changes to the state laws regarding the care of animals that would have applied to every dog owner in the state, including specific requirements for outdoor shelters, when dogs may be outdoors, exercise requirements, and many other new regulations that were not in the best interest of all dogs in all circumstances. AKC and IFDCO joined the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association and others in meeting with the sponsor, who agreed to table the bill and work on a more effective and reasonable proposal.
House Bill 4641 would have made significant changes to when a dog may be forfeited to local animal control. Current law allows a court to consider ordering a person to forfeit animals to a shelter or animal control if there is a conviction of the state’s cruelty laws. In addition, the person convicted, as well as anyone residing in their household, may be prohibited from owning or possessing animals. Among other significant changes, this bill would have amended current law to instead allow for these orders on simply a violation. This includes offenses such as failing to provide proper food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. This change from convictions to violations is a significant shift that could have resulted in dog owners permanently losing their animals for offenses even if they are not convicted of a crime. This bill was held in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee.
Senate Bill 551 would have established a new Pet Animal Facilities Inspection Division within the Kansas Department of Agriculture specifically tasked with inspecting pet animal facilities that will include breeders licensed by the state, pet shops, boarding kennels, rescues, distributors, research facilities, and shelters. This includes inspections of both hobby and retail breeders. Hobby breeders are defined in current state law as premises where three, four or five litters and less than 30 dogs may be sold in a license year. A retail breeder premises is defined as premises that sells 6 or more litters and 30 or more dogs in a license year. The Secretary of Agriculture would appoint the new director. AKC GR communicated with the committee chair to discuss concerns raised by some local breeders following an AKC trip to Kansas in February. As a result of those conversations this bill was heard but not voted on and died as a result of missing a crossover deadline.
SB 125 sought to require owners of animals confiscated in conjunction with an accusation against the owner or caretaker to pay costs of impoundment for the animals, even if the owner was not the person accused, and even if an owner was found not guilty or charges were dropped. The provisions of the bill would have encompassed any alleged violation of a state or local animal cruelty law. Failure to pay would have been deemed abandonment, and the animal would be forfeited. The bill was amended to exclude livestock animals. SB 125 passed in the Senate, then died in the House Committee on Committees.
HB 71, a bill similar to SB 125, was filed late in the session. It sought to allow any agency that seizes an animal to petition the court to require the owner to pay the cost of care for the animal for the anticipated costs related to seizure and care of the animal. A person unable to pay would lose their animals, even with no finding of guilt. HB 71 did not advance.
HB 20 sought to redefine torture of a dog or cat and provide for penalties. A committee substitute that favorably clarified the bill and addressed some of AKC’s concerns was proposed in the House Judiciary Committee. Another amendment was filed on the House floor. The bill did not additionally advance prior to end of the legislative session.
HB 180 addressed civil liability immunity for damaging a vehicle when releasing pets in danger. AKC GR discussed amendments, which were favorably received, to strengthen the bill to ensure that safe care would be provided for a dog after being released from a vehicle. The bill died unamended in the House Committee on Committees.
House Bill 16 and Senate Bill 44 limit the amount of time a dog can be outdoors in 32 degrees or lower temperatures or 90 degrees or higher temperatures without “suitable shelter” or access to shade. AKC GR was successful in having exemptions for hunting, livestock herding or guarding, sledding, sporting, or training added to the bills. The bills were signed by the governor. While AKC continued to ask for additional amendments, we are pleased that the bills include the important exemptions.
Massachusetts – On July 11, the Massachusetts Senate suspended its rules and approved SB 2994. The bill included restrictions on the right to own and keep dogs. It also removed protections in current law for owners of personal kennels and the recognition in current law of keeping dogs for personal, non-commercial use. AKC GR issued an alert urging residents to contact the House of Representatives to express opposition. The response statewide with dog owners and breeders expressing concerns was significant. SB 2994 did not advance further before the legislature adjourned.
Massachusetts – The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture heard testimony on three bills to protect research animals, allowing adoption after health examination upon retiring from research activities. AKC GR supported HB 901 and HB 966, but noted that definitions for animal shelter and rescue in the bill were inconsistent with current law. The committee advanced the bill favorably. HB 901 was signed August 8 as Chapter 149 of the Acts of 2022.
Senate Bill 2573 (“Nero’s Law”) authorizes emergency transport and treatment of police K9s injured on the job. It was signed by the Governor on February 15, 2022.
Senate Bill 1099 would have significantly amended the current law that restricts how and when someone may tether or confine a dog. AKC agrees that no dog ought to be tethered with a pinch or choke collar. However, AKC opposed certain sections because (1) a pen or secure enclosure would be required to provide at least 100 square feet per dog regardless of size; and (2) the proposed definition of “outside and unattended” would prohibit outdoor kennel use for longer than 5 hours or from 10pm to 6am. On February 7, 2022, the Joint Judiciary Committee sent this bill to study order.
Senate Bill 581 would have inappropriately remove the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ authority to regulate privately-operated animal shelters and rescue organizations. In 2020, the agency adopted 13 pages of regulation to address sick, diseased and behaviorally challenged animals being re-homed by these organizations. AKC GR opposed the bill and it was sent to study order on February 3, 2022.
Senate Bill 1341 would have established non-economic damages for injury to a pet. AKC opposed the bill and the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee sent it to a study order on January 31, 2022.
House Bill 384 and its companion Senate Bill 230 would have banned the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops unless sourced from animal shelters or rescues. AKC GR testified before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in opposition to the bills, highlighting the elimination of consumer protections in these proposals. On February 3, 2022, the committee sent the bills to study order.
House Bill 917 would have undercut current regulations that require imported animals to be quarantined in an isolation room at a facility, instead of allowing the animal to be kept with a foster family. AKC GR expressed concerns that this may reduce compliance and increase the risk of communicable disease spread. The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on sent the bill to study order on February 3, 2022.
Senate Bill 585 would have unreasonably expanded the definition of “kennel” to a place where one or more dogs are bred on a residential property and require inspection, fees, and licensure. AKC GR submitted written testimony opposing the bill because it would contradict an ordinary person’s understanding that a kennel is a pack or collection of dogs on a single premise regulated by state law and municipal ordinances in Massachusetts. The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture sent the bill to study order on February 3, 2022.
House Bill 305, would have established state licensure for commercial boarding and training kennels and provide numerous regulations regarding care, group sizes, and housing, just to name a few. In addition, the state would approve required training programs regarding animal behavior, dog body language, and other subjects. Injuries to dogs or people would be reported to the state. Other types of kennels (including personal kennels) could be required in the future to obtain state licensure in addition to a municipal kennel license. AKC GR issued an alert, expressed concerns, and submitted recommended changes. The committee decided it will not advance the bill this session.
House Bill 4700 was introduced by the House Ways and Means Committee as the proposed state budget and more than 1,500 amendments were filed for consideration. Amendment #294 would have established an animal abuser registry with requirements easily evaded and serious penalties for transferring an animal to anyone listed. AKC submitted a letter expressing concerns with the text and the amendment was subsequently withdrawn by the sponsor.
HB 4703 and HB 4704 address the issue of animals being seized, and the payment of their care during impoundment. AKC issued an alert and drafted a letter to the committee expressing concerns with the underlying law. The bill has been amended to allow the court to consider the ability of the defendant to pay and ensure that if the owner is found not guilty, then the animals must be returned. However, it is unclear if this provision applies if a payment is missed during the trial. The bills passed the House but were ultimately held on the Senate floor.
House Bill 417 was an overreaching bill that would have provided for expanded dog bite penalties and liability. It also would have authorized civil actions, including treble damages and pain and suffering payments, to a dog bite victim. The bill died in committee.
New Hampshire – Representative Gallagher reached out to AKC GR for assistance with HB 1186, which mandates that emergency shelters allow individuals to relocate with their companion animals when ordered to evacuate. AKC GR testified in support of the bill’s intent and worked on an amendment to require emergency shelters make space for trailers or other pet accommodations on site. The Governor and signed it into law on July 1.
HB 1004 would have made failure to provide your contact information after a dog injures another person a misdemeanor crime. AKC GR and NH DOGS expressed concerns that although this bill was intended to promote responsible dog ownership, the text is vague and inconsistent with current state law. Without defining the term “injury”, the requirement to provide your contact information would be open to subjective interpretation. The bill would have also charged a dog owner with a misdemeanor for failure to provide their contact information to someone injured by their dog even when trespassing on their property. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted HB 1004 Inexpedient to Legislate on March 9.
HB 1308 would have banned beagle training and field trials. AKC GR worked with clubs and other organizations in opposition to this bill. The House Committee on Fish and Game and Marine Resources voted 18-to-1 at their January 25 work session that the bill was “Inexpedient to Legislate.”
House Bill 1310 would have prohibited hunters from discharging a firearm in the direction of a building, livestock, or pets within their eyesight. A first offense violation would have resulted in loss of hunting license, while a second offense would have removed hunting privileges in New Hampshire for life. Among other concerns, the bill failed to distinguish “pets” from “hunting dogs” that are routinely trained to safely hunt game while also serving as companion animals. AKC expressed these concerns at the House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety hearing and the bill was unanimously defeated.
Senate Bill 17, supported by AKC, authorizes dogs in outdoor dining areas under certain conditions The Governor signed the bill into law on February 26, 2022.
House Bill 1433 would have stricken sections of law that impose fines for the purposeful poisoning of a dog, and insert text in the animal cruelty statute making the negligent poisoning of animals a misdemeanor, and purposeful poisoning a felony crime; with an exception for poisoning rats and vermin. AKC GR submitted testimony together with New Hampshire Dog Owners of the Granite State (NH DOGS) noting concerns that these changes would remove from current law, the element of intent and that the changes would impose criminal liability for incidents of accidental animal poisoning. A pet may gain access to a potentially harmful or fatal substance and many toxins are common items in your home and yard. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted it Inexpedient to Legislate on March 9.
HB 1327 supported by AKC GR, would include diabetes in the conditions listed for eligibility for a service animal. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 20 as Chapter 26 of the Acts of 2022.
Assembly Bill 2401/Senate Bill 3607 sought to establish new dog-related rules, including overreaching requirements for “large dogs.” AKC opposes the targeting of a specific phenotypic group of dogs for additional regulation. A significantly amended version of A.2401 was adopted by the Assembly Agriculture Committee on June 21; however, the bill did not receive additional consideration during the 2020-2021 legislative session.
Senate Bill 2868 and Assembly Bill 4533 sought to establish a courtroom advocates (“lawyers for dogs”) program in the state. They featured broad language that will likely impact the legal classification of animals in the state. The bills added findings that justified providing animals certain policy protections and considerations traditionally reserved for humans and would have applied to all species of animals. AKC and a broad coalition expressed ongoing deep concerns about the direct impact of the bills, as well as the unintended consequences that would have likely resulted, throughout the legislative session. S.2868 passed the full Senate, but failed to gain further consideration by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Senate Bill 4058 and Assembly Bill 6099 sought to update the state’s tethering provisions and create new costs of care laws for dogs seized as part of a criminal or civil animal cruelty case. AKC expressed deep concerns with onerous cost of care provisions, and requested amendments to (1) better protect the constitutional, property, and contractual rights of dog owners; (2) to protect the interests of non-possessory co-owners, and (3) ensure that only medically necessary surgical procedures are permitted to be performed on a seized animal. S.4058 was passed by the Senate on the last voting day of the lame duck session, but neither S.4058 nor A.6099 were considered by the full Assembly prior to the end of the session.
Proposed, onerous amendments to the East Amwell Township animal ordinance would have given the township’s animal control officer significant powers to seize and euthanize broad range of animals without due process for animal owners. AKC GR worked with key constituents in opposition to the proposal, which was not voted on at the Township Committee’s meeting on May 12, 2022.
A. 9284/S. 8315 expands on a law passed in 2021 that states, “With respect to homeowners’ insurance policies…no insurer shall refuse to issue or renew, cancel, or charge or impose an increased premium or rate…based solely upon harboring or owning any dog of a specific breed or mixture of breeds.” This bill signed by the governor clarifies that homeowners’ insurers may also not exclude, limit, restrict, or reduce coverage based solely on breed. AKC was pleased to support this bill, which will go into effect in 90 days.
Senate Bill 8973/Assembly Bill 9296 clarify laws requiring animal control and police officers to seize dogs not on the owner’s property and are not identified or licensed, or pose a threat to public safety. These bills would allow the officer to return any dog with a current license to the owner if there is no probable cause that the dog is dangerous. The dog may be returned to the owner of record at the address provided on the license. AKC GR supported this legislation, which was signed by the governor in December and went into immediate effect.
Senate Bill 6870/Assembly Bill 6246 provide many new standards and requirements regarding the care of animals in New York shelters. The bills also outline new requirements for any dog or cat imported into the state for sale, resale, or adoption. Animals must be quarantined for at least 48 hours or until the animal is free of contagious disease as determined by a veterinarian. Dogs in the state for less than 14 days for exhibition are exempt, so long as they have a rabies vaccination and are under proper restraint by their handlers/owners. AKC supports these bills, which will protect public health and the health of dogs in the state. At AKC’s request, the governor signed this legislation, which will go into effect in three years.
Despite some last-minute procedural moves by the Senate, the Assembly did not consider Senate Bill 9445 or Senate Bill 1125, which would have banned the procedure known as “debarking” or bark softening. AKC opposed these bills, which restricted the rights of responsible dog owners to make viable, safe decisions on behalf of their pets in conjunction with their veterinarian.
Senate Bill 461, which would have banned ear cropping and tail docking, was introduced but never received a hearing. AKC GR met with key members and staff early in the session to explain our concerns. We thank the committee chair for not scheduling this bill for a hearing.
Several bills (including A. 4023, S. 4912/A.2601, and S.1360) would have revised the definition of “Pet dealer” to include hobbyists, or require licensing for all breeders. AKC met with key members in both the Assembly and Senate at the beginning of session to express our many concerns with the impact these bills would have on hobby breeders and exhibitors in the state. None of these bills were scheduled for a hearing.
Senate Bill 6027 would have allowed a person to receive damages for mental distress or emotional harm caused by the injury or death of a companion animal. Historically, compensation for non-economic damages is reserved only for humans. Changing this precedent could adversely impact the legal status of animals. AKC GR worked with numerous organizations and veterinarians in opposition to this bill. While it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2021, it was not brought up for consideration again during the 2022 session.
Numerous bills were introduced to regulate the keeping of dogs outdoors. AKC GR agrees that dogs should never be kept in conditions where their health and safety are at risk. However, as written, these bills used arbitrary guidelines that did not consider the needs, ability, training, or health of all breeds or individual dogs. AKC and the state federation have worked for several sessions on communicating with members the need for flexibility, rather than one-size-fits-all policies. We appreciated that none of these bills were brought up for hearings.
House Bill 725 would only allow ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal and debarking procedures to be performed by a veterinarian using proper anesthesia. The bill did not advance in 2022. AKC GR staff met with the sponsor to discuss the measure and secured a commitment for amendments should the bill be reintroduced in 2023.
House Bill 2993 would have prohibited tethering dogs outside in a number of humane ways including ways often used for training dogs. In March, AKC traveled to Oklahoma City for introductory meetings and while there we discussed HB 2993 with members of the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. The committee chairman confirmed he did not intend to hear the bill after those discussions, and it was held in committee.
Animal rights activists were collecting signatures to put a measure on the November 2022 ballot that would essentially ban all hunting, prohibit certain breeding practices including artificial insemination, and restrict training practices. Other provisions would dramatically impact farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and even pest control. On March 16, due to lack of support and sufficient signatures, it was pulled for 2022 and will not be on the ballot this year. It is now being put forward for the 2024 ballot as IP 3. AKC joined two broad coalitions to oppose the measure and coordinate on strategy and outreach and will continue to work with them. AKC GR has also joined the new Oregon Sportsmen Conservation Partnership to discuss legislative solutions to protect performance events and hunting in the state.
S. 2443 would have authorized forfeiture of any animal seized if the defendant is found guilty and fails to reimburse RISPCA within 30 days for the boarding and care of animals held pending court proceedings. AKC GR issued an alert noting the lack of protections for one who is found innocent and testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture requesting amendments. The committee proposed and adopted an amended S. 2443 responding to AKC concerns and the Senate passed the amended bill on May 17. An identical companion bill was then filed in the House as H. 8303. Both bills were voted favorably and sent to the Governor for consideration on June 23, 2022.
S. 2227 and H. 7678 would have authorized the court to appoint a student attorney or pro bono attorney in any civil or criminal case to represent an animal in the interests of justice. AKC GR and the Rhode Island ACLU and the Rhode Island kennel clubs opposed the bills. H. 7678 was held for further study. S. 2227 failed upon adjournment of the legislative session on June 23.
H. 6624 would have established an animal abuser registry that requires pet sellers to check the registry prior to transfer and face penalties for transferring an animal to a convicted abuser on the registry. This bill is a re-filed measure that AKC GR has previously expressed concerns with and did again to the House Judiciary Committee in early 2022. It was held for further study. A Senate companion bill, S. 2701 failed upon adjournment of the legislative session on June 23.
H. 7021 would authorize the emergency treatment and transport of a police K9 injured in the line of duty. AKC GR supports this bill. On June 23, both H. 7021 and its identical companion bill S. 3019 favorably and they were transmitted to the Governor for consideration.
H. 7088 would have amended the district courts’ domestic violence protections to include pets in protection orders. We applaud this effort, particularly given the complex dilemma involving pets and domestic violence situations. However, AKC GR is concerned about the use of the word “custody” in H. 7088 and recommended that the House Judiciary Committee reserve this legal term for children only. The bill failed upon adjournment of the legislative session on June 23.
H. 7573 would have created a legal process by which formerly cohabitating parties could seek from the district court a determination as to ownership of any pet. Because it would change the legal status of animals as property, AKC GR opposed HB 7573. The bill failed upon adjournment of the legislative session on June 23.
H. 7785 would authorize the director of the department of environmental management to establish quarantine zones for animals and would permit the examination of any quarantined animal therein. AKC GR submitted testimony in support of the measure and identical S. 2751. S. 2751 passed the Senate on May 3 and was signed by the Governor May 24.
S. 2121 was intended to protect the welfare of animals left unattended in motor vehicles by expanding law enforcement officers’ current authority to rescue an animal in distress. If enacted, an officer would have the authority to maintain custody of the animal for 72 hours or until a court hearing was scheduled where the court may refuse to return custody of the animal to the owner. AKC GR submitted testimony for the March 29 public hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing concerns that, as written, the bill violates due process protections governing personal property. The bill failed upon adjournment of the legislative session on June 23.
S. 2651 was filed to ban the import of large animals into the state for canned hunting activities by defining and prohibiting “captive hunting”. The definition expressly excludes the release of upland game birds for hunting, but AKC GR and the Northeast Beagle Gundog Federation had concerns that the text may unintentionally harm lawful beagle training and field trials with rabbits. Both AKC GR and the Federation submitted testimony with a recommendation to also expressly exclude these activities. The bill failed upon adjournment of the legislative session on June 23.
Senate Bill 2751 and House Bill 7785 authorize the director of the Department of Environmental Management to establish quarantine zones for imported animals suspected of harboring zoonotic disease. Preventing the spread of infectious disease from imported animals is a high priority and AKC strongly advocated passage of this measure. It was signed into law by the Governor on May 24, 2022.
House Bill 3067 sought to require that any second violation of the state law’s Chapter on Cruelty to Animals would have required forfeiture of ownership of all animals and a prohibition from owning an animal for five years. AKC GR opposed this bill because it contained excessive penalties and mandatory restrictions for certain offenses that do not involve the care and keeping of animals, and for violations of certain provisions that do not involve harm to an animal. The bill failed sine die at close of the 2021-2022 legislative session.
House Bill 4094 contained problematic findings about “pit bull” dogs and sought to restrict ownership of and require registration with an animal control agency of “fertile” pit bulls. These requirements would have applied to “American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers,” dogs displaying the physical traits of one or more of the breeds, or a dog exhibiting the distinguishing characteristics that conform to the standards established by the AKC for any of the breeds. AKC GR strongly opposed this legislation, issued an alert, and sent a letter of concern to subcommittee members. The bill did not advance during the two-year session.
Senate Bill 186 sought to create new language regarding dog training techniques and devices, and to delete certain exemptions under current law for hunting dogs. AKC requested a clarifying amendment to protect the training and use of dogs for herding; flock guarding; vermin control; tracking, trailing, or treeing; field work; and hunting. The bill did not advance during the two-year session.
Senate Bill 556 sought to make changes to laws that govern trapping. As introduced, this bill could have increased hazards for dogs whose owners participate in field trials, Coonhound events, hunting, and training for these sports, as well as hiking, wilderness camping, and other outdoor activities with dogs. Read AKC GR’s alert on S 556 as it was originally introduced. AKC GR recommended amendments to safeguard dogs, and the bill was favorably amended in committee. It passed in the Senate, but died in House committee.
House Bill 1646/Senate Bill 2013, also known as “Joker’s Law,” was enacted and takes effect on July 1, 2022. AKC supported this legislation, which helps protect certain working dogs by revising the offense of killing or severely injuring a police, fire, search-and-rescue, or service dog.
House Bill 2034/Senate Bill 2305 addressed unlawful restraint of dogs. AKC changed its position from “neutral” to “oppose” after an unfavorable amendment to HB 2034 was discussed, which would have removed practical exemptions to allow for safely tethering hunting and working dogs. Both bills failed in committees.
Senate Bill 1788 would have enacted engineering standards and additional vague requirements for providing shelter for dogs, and would have made some responsible dog owners’ effective and humane care practices illegal. AKC GR opposed this bill, which died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 2860/Senate Bill 2243 sought to make it an offense for a person to restrain a dog with a tether during a severe flooding or tornado warning or an evacuation order, regardless if the forecasted weather conditions occurred where the dog was tethered. AKC opposed these bills because they could have increased the risk of harm to a dog by prohibiting a person from “restraining” their dog to keep it safe and close by in conjunction with preparations to evacuate or while evacuating with the dog. Amendments were proposed and withdrawn, and ultimately this legislation failed in the Senate.
House Bill 547/Senate Bill 511 were overreaching dog breeder bills introduced in year one of Tennessee’s two-year legislative session. In 2021, SB 511 was sent in committee to “General Sub,” which meant the bill was on hold and unlikely to be considered again that year. Neither bill was considered in 2022.
House Bill 803/Senate Bill 903 were overreaching cruelty bills introduced in 2021. AKC worked with allied groups to point out inequities of the legislation. It was not considered in committees in 2021 or 2022.
House Bill 729 as amended, among many provisions, requires the development of a plan for the unification and improvement of state administrative functions relating to domestic animal welfare protections. Among the plan priorities is to ensure that domestic animals transported into Vermont from other jurisdictions meet health and safety standards. Governor Scott signed the bill into law on June 1, 2022.
The Nelson County Board of Supervisors approved Zoning Ordinance Amendments to amend the current definition of “Kennel” and its use in certain zoning districts to clarify that a kennel is a premises where the “primary use” is to breed dogs, etc. The amendment also removed existing by-right use in areas zoned for Agriculture or Service Enterprise. AKC GR spoke with the County to ensure that existing kennels, and kennels as a secondary use in conjunction with a dwelling (home occupation) remain permitted by-right, and would not be impacted by the changes.
Senate Bill 89 would have prohibited a pet shop from selling a dog or cat unless it has first been spayed or neutered. Given the concerns that sterilization at an early age can lead to serious health issues, AKC GR provided comments in opposition stated that the decision to sterilize an animal is an important decision that should be discussed by an owner in conjunction with their veterinarian. The sponsor offered to draft a substitute that would allow for the animal sterilized within 30 days after the animal reaches six months of age if the animal is not sexually mature. The sponsor ultimately agreed to have the bill held over for consideration during the 2023 session.
New zoning requirements for Fauquier County kennel permits have been approved after significant input from AKC GR and local hobbyists. Current law requires a zoning permit for any breeding activity. The amendment exempts from the definition of kennel “a person who breed not more than one (1) companion animal not more than one (1) time per calendar year”. This change brings the zoning ordinance in line with the exist County Code requirement for obtaining a dealer license. It also allows one litter as a by-right permitted use without the need for additional permitting. Additionally, it adds a streamlined Administrative Permit process that would permit up to 4 litters per calendar year for a one-time fee of $75 fee, remain valid as long as you continue to operate as approved, and serve as zoning approval for animal control. The County Board of Supervisors approved the amendments in March 2022.