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Legislative Successes

Legislative Successes

The following list highlights some of the AKC Government Relations’ (AKC GR) legislative successes through July 13, 2021.  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 2021, 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.

Arkansas

HB 1883, which was supported by AKC GR, guarantees the right to utilize a working animal. It also provides that an ordinance or resolution shall not be enacted by a municipality that terminates, bans, or creates an undue hardship relating to the job or use of a working animal or animal enterprise in commerce, service, legal hunting, agriculture, husbandry, transportation, ranching, entertainment, education, or exhibition. HB 1883 was enacted as Act 1091Read AKC GR’s most recent alert on HB 1883.

California

Assembly Bill 702 would have regulated every breeder in the state.  AKC met extensively es with the author and key committee members and staff, activated local clubs and hobbyists, coordinated meetings for clubs with their Assembly members, submitted alternative language, and partnered with key stakeholders in opposition, including California animal shelters. The bill was held in committee, with reports stating that no member was going to vote for it.  It has been tabled until 2022 and the author and committee have committed to work with AKC on alternative solutions in the interim. AKC GR has issued a follow up alert to clubs with actions they can take to thank the committee and help AKC lay groundwork for 2022 advocacy and education.

Colorado

HB 21-1102 as introduced sought to regulate pet stores in the state and not allow any new pet stores to open. As introduced, the bill contained legislative findings claiming that rescues were a better answer for public safety, as pet stores import dogs from out of state.  AKC and its state federation succeeded in educating House members about the many inaccuracies with this statement and the problems that have surfaced regarding importation by rescues. As amended, the bill has addressed some concerns and removed these legislative findings.  The bill would also allow pet stores to continue to exist, so long as certain information is disclosed online and on all cages in the store.  The bill as amended was signed by the governor.

Connecticut

In February, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture adopted new regulations implementing changes in law made back in 2011 and 2017 requiring oversight of the state’s animal shelters and animal importers.  These new rules provide standards for buildings and premises; ventilation and temperature; and animal care requirements, including staffing requirements, enclosure size and design standards, rules for feeding and access to clean water, cleaning requirements, and access standards.  The rules also provide updates for commercial kennels (limited to boarding kennels, grooming facilities, and veterinary kennels that provide boarding and grooming for nonmedical purposes), pet shops, and training facilities.

Among its many provisions, HB 6504 Regarding Animal Welfare, closes a loophole in the definitions for “animal importer” and “animal shelter”, effectively requiring a veterinary examination of animals brought into the state by animal shelters.  The bill also updates fine amounts for violations.  In addition, it allows towns to sign mutual aid agreements for temporary animal control officers when personnel are out on leave; and requires regional pounds to comply with municipal pound construction, maintenance, and sanitation standards.  The American Kennel Club and Connecticut Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (CFDRDO) supported this bill, which was filed by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.  The bill is now Public Act 21-90.

If passed, HB 6542 would have allowed each city and town to create and enforce its own obligations and restrictions on state-licensed pet shops, including mandates that shops source pets only from animal shelters and rescues.  AKC opposed the measure and issued an alert outlining the reasons why.

SB 923 would have charged the Connecticut Sentencing Commission with reviewing state animal cruelty laws and their penalties, studying trends in this area of law, and making recommendations for legislation.  However, to establish a balanced perspective, both the Connecticut Department of Agriculture and AKC expressed the need for animal welfare experience and input during this process.  The bill did not get a vote in the House of Representatives before the session adjourned and has failed.

SB 458 would have established a state license for companion animal breeders.  After AKC met with the bill sponsor and provided her with research on the existing oversight authority for anyone selling more than two litters a year, the senator decided not to push for adoption of the bill this session.

The city of Stamford’s Legislative and Rules Committee made significant improvements to a proposed tethering ordinance over the past six months after receiving input from American Kennel Club Government Relations (AKC GR) and other stakeholders.  On August 2, 2021, the full board of representatives adopted a final measure that is intended to simply prevent dog owners from leaving dogs outside and unattended on a tether for long periods of time.  Details can be reviewed here.

Florida

SB 72, which provides certain protections to business entities from civil liability claims related to COVID-19, was enacted as Chapter 2021-1.

AKC GR requested amendments to SB 96, a child welfare bill that, among other provisions, requires certain cross-reporting of suspected child abuse, abandonment or neglect, and animal cruelty. The bill contained a problematic provision that would have changed the definition of “animal husbandry” to exclude care of non-livestock animals. SB 96 was substantially amended and has passed in both chambers without the problematic definition.

Georgia

HB 112 seeks to extend the applicability for one year of a 2020 Act, supported by AKC GR, that provides certain immunities from liability claims regarding COVID-19. HB 112 is now Act 175.

Illinois

In May 2020, a proposal was introduced by the Chicago City Council that supposedly sought to close a loophole in their pet store ban to stop irresponsible sellers from misrepresenting themselves as rescues to avoid regulation while accessing new markets. It also would have required hobby breeder to obtain a pet facility license (requiring on site staff and locations only in non-residential areas).  For the past year, AKC and our state federation met with key council members, submitted written testimony, activated local breeders, submitted an op-ed to local media, and testified in council hearings.  As a result, all language regulating hobby breeders was removed from the final proposal passed by the council in May 2021.

S. 153, opposed by AKC and IFDCO, is similar to bills introduced in other states in an effort to alter the legal status of animals and provide them with rights, including individual representation, traditionally reserved for children and other people lacking legal capacity.  AKC issued written testimony and alerts and worked with the federation, who testified in person in the committee hearings.  It passed the Senate has been held on the House floor and has not been scheduled for a vote.

Indiana

Senate Bill 1, among other provisions, would protect any “person” (including but not limited to individuals, associations, etc.) from civil liability for damages or injury “resulting from exposure of an individual to coronavirus.”  This includes premises owned or managed by a person, and activities managed, organized, or sponsored by a person.  AKC supported this bill, which could provide protections for shows and events in the state.  The bill was signed by the governor.

Maryland

HB 293 and SB 200 are reintroductions of legislation from last session. As introduced last session, they sought to prohibit a person from sponsoring, conducting, or participating in certain organized contests that have the objective of hunting or killing certain wildlife for prizes or monetary awards. This would have negatively impacted field trials and other AKC sanctioned events. AKC GR and the Sportsmen Alliance worked to amend the bill to exclude lawful dog training or dog competition events. HB 293 and SB 200 were introduced this year with the amended language included. HB 293 was passed by both Chambers with AKC’s amendment included a compromise regarding fines and became law on June 1.

HB 1080 / SB 760 sought to authorize the filing of a petition against an owner or custodian for reasonable costs of caring for a seized animal, including the provision of food, water, shelter, and medical care. The bills limited costs to $15 a day per animal plus reasonable costs for necessary veterinary care, but also provided for forfeiture of the animal for failure to make the required payment. AKC GR met with the sponsors to express concerns that the bills allow for the forfeiture of animals with no mechanism to have them returned to an individual who is found not guilty or has charges dropped. GR also provided written and oral testimony in opposition of the bills during public hearings. Neither bill received further consideration from their respective committees prior to the end of the session.

SB 103 is a reintroduction of legislation from last session which originally sought to regulate the Internet sales of animals by pet stores. The original language concerned many who use Facebook or other social media “brag” pages to showcase their dogs and puppies for sale.  AKC GR worked with the sponsor to have the bill amended and all references to Internet sales were removed. It further clarified that a pet store does not include situations where animals are sold at establishments where they were bred, and the buyer and seller are both present during the sale or transfer. SB 103 was introduced this session with the same amended language. It was further amended to develop a task force including AKC representation to study the sourcing of pets used by pet stores and broker entities.  The bill became law on June 1.

Maine

LD 1265 would remove the permission for hunting dogs to be at large; and prohibit hunting coyote at night or with dogs or bait.  AKC GR issued an alert and testified before the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in opposition together with sportsmen and women.  The committee voted unanimously the bill ought not to pass.

Massachusetts

The Town of Marshfield scheduled several dog-related proposals for a vote at special town meeting in October 2020. They included encouraging adoption of a breeder and kennel license program. After AKC GR issued an alert and local advocates and breeders began to contact town officials, a decision was made to remove the breeder license proposal from the agenda to work on it further before re-introducing it in spring 2021. At the town’s spring meeting, there was no breeder license proposal included on the warrant.

Nebraska

LB 139 and LB 52 as introduced would exempt persons from liability for COVID exposure unless there is evidence of gross negligence. The bills were merged and amended to state that no person may seek recovery for exposure or potential exposure relating to COVID if the act or omission in question was in substantial compliance with federal health mandates.  The bill was signed by the governor on May 25 and goes into immediate effect.

Nevada

The governor has signed Senate Bill 103, which prohibits homeowners and renters insurance providers from canceling coverage or raising premiums based solely on the breed of dog owned by the policyholder.  The insurance company may still take action if the dog is known or has been declared to be dangerous or vicious as defined in state law.  The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2022.

New Hampshire

On March 1, 2021, the House Municipal and County Government considered HB 467, which would amend the “Use Taxation” law so that “open space land” would not apply to “any farm land or forest land used to harbor non-native, non-domesticated animal species”. AKC GR and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation testified that some facilities where dog owners train with non-native birds (i.e., pheasants) would be negatively impacted. The committee voted the bill inexpedient to legislate.

House Bills 322 and 367 sought to further regulate vaccinations. AKC GR issued an alert that HB 322 would require a color photo of a dog, cat, or ferret to be attached to its rabies vaccination certificate and HB 367 would require rabies antibody tests after vaccination and allow rabies titers in lieu of rabies vaccination for dogs with a reaction to initial vaccination. After hearing concerns about cost and adequate protection, including testimony from AKC GR and NH DOGS, the House Environment and Agriculture Committee voted unanimously to reject both bills.

AKC GR worked closely with NH Beagle clubs to express concerns about HB 118, which would change the qualifications for commissioners appointed to the NH Fish and Game Commission. Instead of sporting clubs providing nominees for appointment, the bill would authorize “participating organizations,” defined as organizations with wildlife or conservation experience, to nominate individuals. The House Fish and Game Committee has retained it and no further action will take place this year.

A 2019 law classified a person as a pet vendor if they transfer 25 dogs in a 12-month period. It required all license applicants to obtain municipal zoning authorization, including those who were not previously required to get such authorization.  As a result of this legislative change, some breeders that were previously licensed were unable to obtain a new license, resulting in a violation of due process for those breeders.   AKC and the NH federation drafted HB 250 which addressed these issues by (1) raising the minimum transfer threshold to 35 dogs, and (2) “grandfathering” as licensees those breeders who were not previously required to petition local authorities for authorization. The bill is currently pending House concurrence on minor Senate amendments to the bill.

With the support of AKC GR and NH DOGS, among other stakeholders, H. 338 was signed into law July 29, 2021, making the tampering or removal of a dog’s collar or microchip a misdemeanor crime.  It also increases the penalty for stealing a dog, from a misdemeanor to a class B felony, for anyone guilty of multiple offenses.  These changes, effective January 1, 2022, are expected to act as a deterrent to the theft of dogs in order to sell them for profit and to the obstruction of legitimate working and hunting dogs.

Two bills containing amended language regarding the creation of a statewide animal records database advanced this session. After AKC GR and NH DOGS expressed concerns about HB 532, a positively amended version of the bill was incorporated into House Budget Bill HB 2. The Senate Finance Committee adopted the amended language in their appropriations bill. The House and Senate conference committee budget bill included the positive text supported by AKC GR and NH DOGS. HB 2, as amended, was signed into law by the Governor on June 25, 2021.

New Jersey

House Bill 1175 limits liability related to COVID-19.  This bill, supported by AKC, was signed by the governor on April 23.

Assembly Bill 1365 would have prohibited the “harassing or taking” of wildlife at competitive events.  This would have impacted all clubs offering AKC-sanctioned performance events in New Jersey, including those that offer sporting, hound, earthdog, and herding events.  AKC voiced strong opposition to A.1365, and it was pulled from committee consideration.

New York

S. 6027 would allow a person to receive damages for mental distress or emotional harm caused by the injury or death of a companion animal.  AKC provided written testimony and issued alerts in opposition.  This bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, but was ultimately held and did not advance.  It could be reconsidered in the 2022 session.

A. 4283/S. 1130, opposed by AKC, would prohibit retail pet stores from selling any dogs or cats. Instead, they would only be allowed to “showcase” animals available for adoption from a shelter, rescue, or adoption agency that has no affiliation with breeders.  As such, they would no longer be required to provide background information on the dogs or provide consumer protection for sales.  The bills also imply that reputable breeders should not be involved in rescue work.    AKC issued numerous alerts, submitted written testimony, had meetings with lawmakers, and submitted op-eds in opposition.  The bills passed the Senate and two Assembly Committees, but were ultimately held in the Assembly Rules Committee.  The bills could be considered again in 2022.

Oklahoma

As introduced, House Bill 1580 contained unclear tethering provisions that could have resulted in unintended consequences impacting responsible dog owners and outdoor dog events.  This bill passed committee, but after discussions with the sponsor, he agreed to hold the bill and work with AKC, clubs, and sportsmen in the interim on developing a tethering proposal that addresses concerns of cruelty without harming responsible owners.

Rhode Island

The town council of Tiverton adopted changes to its dogs “at large” and nuisance ordinance.  AKC GR worked closely with the sponsoring councilwoman to first provide a warning and AKC materials on how to stop barking dogs before issuing fines in violation of disturbing the peace.  The council also adopted AKC’s suggested edits clarifying those instances when a dog may properly be off an owner’s property and off leash and therefore not subject to penalties.

Refiled from 2019, HB 5040 seeks to create a statewide animal cruelty registry. The intent of the bill is that offenders listed on the registry would be prohibited from owning animals because the bill would require all pet sellers and shelters to check the registry before transferring an animal, with significant fines for violations. AKC GR and the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union expressed significant concerns with the bill at a House Judiciary Committee Hearing. AKC noted specific concerns with the ineffectiveness of registries at preventing animal cruelty and the ease at which cruelty violators would be able to evade the registry, and encouraged the committee to consider more effective means. The committee held the bill for further study and no action was taken before adjournment.

The House Judiciary Committee considered testimony on HB 5569, which seeks to allow district courts to include pets in temporary protective orders for domestic violence victims. While family courts already have this power, AKC GR submitted testimony in support of this measure to further protect pets from violence in domestic situations. The committee held the bill for further study, and no action was taken before adjournment.

 HB 5577 would authorize court-appointed legal advocates for animals. AKC GR issued an alert and testified in opposition to the bill before the House Judiciary Committee, which retained the bill for further review. The Senate President introduced SB 534 and the Senate Minority Leader introduced SB 601, companion bills to HB 5577. AKC GR developed a fact sheet for constituents and contacted potentially impacted governmental stakeholders, including the Department of Environmental Management, Attorney General, and the Rhode Island Supreme Court. AKC GR, AKC clubs in the state, and the RI ACLU testified in opposition and met with lawmakers and staff. A commitment was made by the Senate President to not move forward with the bills as introduced, and no action was taken before adjournment.

 In marriage dissolution cases, HB 5580 would authorize courts to use the same criteria used in awarding the custody of a child for awarding the possession of a pet. AKC GR submitted written testimony in opposition to courts using criteria governing child custody disputes for animals.  In the final days of the session, AKC GR issued an alert regarding elimination of the word “custody” and use of the words “possession” or “ownership” instead.  The bill sponsor, Representative Charlene Lima, agreed to the changes and an amended bill was adopted in the House on July 1, 2021.  The Senate did not take up the bill before adjournment.

 HB 5617 would place a lifetime ban on the possession of animals by anyone convicted of serious animal cruelty. AKC expressed concerns that the bill could take away an important discretionary tool judges have to obtain agreement by a defendant to engage in mental health counseling to determine whether the conduct was the result of mental illness, and, if so, to order treatment. Moreover, as introduced, the bill did not address how a convicted person would be monitored for compliance for the duration of their lifetime. The House Judiciary Committee has held the bill for further study, and no action was taken before adjournment.

 HB 5736 seeks to ban tethering a dog outside for more than 30 minutes when the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees. Current law provides animal control officers with discretion to address any weather situation where a dog might be at risk of harm. Because adding specific temperatures to the law could diminish protections for a breed that tolerates only moderate temperatures and punish owners of breeds that thrive in lower temperatures, AKC testified in opposition to HB 5736 before the House Judiciary Committee. The committee retained the bill for further study, and no action was taken before adjournment.

 

SB 319 would authorize an officer to hold an animal rescued from a motor vehicle for up to 72 hours or until a court arraignment could be scheduled. Additionally, after a hearing, a court could order that the owner permanently surrender physical possession and ownership of the animal. AKC GR submitted written testimony expressing concerns with SB 319’s potentially onerous impacts. No action was taken before adjournment.

South Dakota

House Bill 1046, which limits liability for certain exposures to COVID-19, was signed into law by Gov. Noem on February 18, 2021.

Tennessee

Senate Bill 511 sought to create a new commercial breeder licensing program similar to a program that was allowed to sunset in 2014 due to its ineffectiveness.  AKC GR provided direct advocacy with key Tennessee lawmakers, provided action alerts and testimony in opposition, and worked with Tennessee residents to express their opposition as constituents. The Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee considered the bill and did not advance it.

Texas

Senate Bill 323 would have expanded the state’s licensed breeders program to include many hobby breeders by reducing the thresholds for ownership and sales that currently exempt many hobby breeders. AKC presented strong, sustained opposition to SB 323, which resulted in the measure not being scheduled for committee consideration.

At the request of both the House and Senate sponsors, AKC was pleased to support House Bill 604, a common-sense measure aimed at protecting the rights of owners of lost and at-large dogs.  The bill requires animal shelters, releasing agencies, and animal rescue organizations to scan an animal for a microchip as soon as practicable after the animal is placed in their custody.  AKC also supported this legislation during the 2019 Texas legislative session.  The bill was signed into law by Governor Abbott on Mary 26, 2021, and becomes law on September 1, 2021.

House Bill 1083 sought to provide for the quick termination of ownership rights in animals that are impounded by an animal shelter.  AKC expressed strong, sustained opposition to HB 1083, which did not advance.

House Bill 1818 attempted to limit the sources of dogs and cats that pet stores located in counties with a population over 200,000 could sell.  AKC opposed the version of the bill that was passed by the House, which limited sources to animal control agencies, animal shelters, or animal rescue organizations.  The bill was subsequently amended by the Senate to allow certain licensed commercial breeders to remain a source of purpose-bred pets, which AKC supported.  The bill ultimately failed when a conference committee was appointed but failed to agree on a final version.

Utah

As introduced, House Bill 420 would have banned the retail sale of pets at pet stores, unless they were sourced from a shelter or rescue.  The definition of “pet store” was so broad it could also have encompassed home-based breeders and hobbyists.  AKC GR expressed concerns with the bill, and issued an alert to Utah clubs.  The bill was tabled for the year and did not move prior to adjournment.

Vermont

House Bill 421, supported by the AKC and the state federation, narrows the list of individuals authorized as “humane officers” who investigate cases of animal cruelty and mandates the completion of trainings approved by the Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board. The bill was signed by the governor.

Virginia

HB 2109 originally sought to expand the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services by adding an at-large member who is expert in companion animal welfare who is employed by a releasing agency in Virginia.  AKC GR, its state federation, and others expressed concerns and asked for an expansion to ensure all animal welfare experts were represented.  A substitute bill offered removed the provision and instead required that at least one of the congressional district appointees to be a veterinarian licensed and currently practicing in the Commonwealth.  The bill ultimately failed in subcommittee.

West Virginia

HB 2095 sought to enhance West Virginia’s animal welfare laws and bring state law into alignment with reasonable, accepted animal husbandry and care laws and provide comprehensive laws regarding the care of animals by public shelters. The sponsor agreed to offer AKC’s amendments to extreme weather and consumer protection and extended an offer to work with AKC on the hoarding issue and language during the interims and next session.  The bill passed the House with amended language.  While the bill did not make it to the Senate floor for a vote prior to the end of session on April 10, AKC GR will be working with the sponsor to have the bill reintroduced next session.

Wyoming

Senate File 24 sought to address the issue of caring for animals seized on suspicion of cruelty.  AKC and local clubs expressed significant concerns with Senate Bill 24, which could have caused someone to permanently lose ownership of their animals if they fail to pay for care – even if they are found not guilty.  The Senate Agriculture, State, Public Lands, & Water Committee tabled this bill.


Senate File 25, similar to Senate File 24, addresses the issue of the care for animals seized when the owner is suspected of cruelty.  This bill had several positive aspects, but AKC asked for specific clarifications to ensure that an owner would not lose their animals if they are ultimately found not guilty.  The Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee filed amendments to amend this language.  She also added language stating that no animal may be forfeited without a hearing, regardless of whether a bond is posted, if “the animal is connected to the livelihood or ability to make a living of the owner.”  Finally, she shortened the mandatory time frame in which a hearing must be conducted from 14 days to 7 days.  The bill was signed by the governor with AKC’s requested amendment.