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Legislative Successes

Legislative Successes

The following list highlights some of the AKC Government Relations’ (AKC GR) legislative successes through June 6, 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.

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.

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.

 

Maryland

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.

Montana

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.