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Legislative Successes

Legislative Successes

The following list highlights some of the AKC Government Relations’ (AKC GR) legislative successes through April 19, 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.

Florida

HB 253 sought to criminalize the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. The bill was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

 SB 172/HB 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 HB 227 was withdrawn by the sponsor. SB 172 was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

SB 420/HB 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 Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration. 

SB 716 / HB 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 Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration. 

SB 994 / HB 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. 

SB 1508/HB 1075 would have imposed significant limitations on tethering a dog, with certain exceptions. Both bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration. 

SB 1750/HB 1061 sought to expand the obligations of a pet vendor and certain breeders if a pet is found to have a health issue, increase record keeping requirements, place 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.  

Kansas

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.  The bill was heard on Thursday, March 17.  AKC GR has been in communication 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 not voted on and died as a result of missing a crossover deadline.

Maryland

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.  HB 16 passed the House on February 28 and is pending in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.  SB 44 was approved by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 1.  While AKC has continued to ask for additional amendments, we are pleased that the bills continue to include the important exemptions.

Massachusetts

 SB 2573, Nero’s Law authorizing emergency transport and treatment of police K9s injured on the job was signed by the Governor on February 15, 2022.  The law takes effect 90 days later.

SB 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.

SB 581 would 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.

SB 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.

HB 384 and its companion bill, SB 230 would have banned the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops unless sourced from animal shelters or rescues.  AKC GR testified at the November 17, 2021, public hearing highlighting the elimination of consumer protections in these proposals and requesting the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture vote “No”.  On February 3, 2022, the committee sent the bills to study order.

HB 917 would 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 in written testimony 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.

SB 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 on sent the bill to study order on February 3, 2022.

HB 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 has decided it will not advance the bill this session.

Mississippi

HB 417 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 Jersey 

A.2401/S.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.

S. 2868 and A. 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. S. 2868 passed the Senate but failed to receive further consideration in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. 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.

S.4058 and A.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.

New Hampshire

HB 1004 would make 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 is 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. Second, the bill would charge 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.

The House Committee on Fish and Game and Marine Resources voted 18-to-1 at their January 25 work session that HB 1308 was “Inexpedient to Legislate”.  As a result, the bill banning beagle training and field trials will not advance out of committee.

HB 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 on January 26, at which the committee unanimously voted the bill down.

HB 1433 would strike sections of law imposing 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 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.

SB 17 authorizing dogs in outdoor dining areas under certain conditions was held over from 2021 and recently sent to Governor Sununu’s desk.  He signed it into law on February 26, 2022.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma HB 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. The bill has remained pending in committee and will be officially dead on April 22nd.

Oregon

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.

Tennessee

SB 1788 failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill 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.    Read more.

Virginia

SB 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.