News from the State Capitols
Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking.
California – AB 468 would further clarify the difference between trained service dogs and emotional support animals, and particularly emphasizes that emotional support animals should not be granted the same privileges and access. The bill was signed by the governor on September 16. Read AKC’s alert for more information.
California – AB 1282 allows for closed-colony animal blood banks so long as, among other requirements, the animals are housed and maintained within California state boundaries. No new closed-colony blood banks may be licensed in the state. The bill also provides a procedure for the phasing out of current “closed-colony” animal blood banks if blood banks using community- sourced blood are able to collect the same amount of blood as the commercial banks. AKC is not taking a position on this legislation, which was signed by the governor on October 9. Read AKC’s previous alert for more information.
Connecticut – Deputy Speaker Mushinsky has met with two state agencies regarding legislation for therapy dog recognition. A bill is expected to be re-drafted and re-filed for next year.
Georgia – SB 303, a problematic dog breeder bill, did not advance during year 1 of the 2021-2022 legislative session. AKC, the Georgia Canine Coalition and other advocacy groups are working to communicate concerns with the bill and to urge that it not be considered in 2022.
Maryland – SB 103, as signed by the governor, seeks to regulate retail sourcing of animals. The new law also established a task force to study sourcing standards, breeding practices, and “canine breeding facilities” and to provide legislative recommendations by the end of 2021. AKC GR is a member of this task force which held its first meeting on August 12, 2021. AKC GR provided a presentation about AKC and our inspection program to the task force at the September 29, 2021 meeting. The task force will meet again on November 5, 2021 to discuss and draft its final report to the General Assembly.
Massachusetts – HB 2547 would authorize the emergency transport and treatment of police K-9s injured in the line of duty. AKC GR urged Massachusetts residents to contact their lawmakers in support and request that they co-sponsor the bill. As a result, a significant number of new legislators signed on as co-sponsors. A companion bill, SB 1606, was refiled in the Senate. AKC GR issued an alert and testified in support before the Joint Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on July 14, 2021. On October 12, the measure was voted favorably out of committee.
Massachusetts – Multiple re-filed bills with problematic provisions for dog owners were considered by the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee on September 28, 2021. AKC GR issued an alert summarizing the bills and strongly encouraging residents to email the committee in addition to AKC’s written testimony. AKC GR provided support for just one bill on the agenda, HB 2146, because it would create the same consumer protections irrespective of where a pet was acquired.
Massachusetts – On October 12, 2021 AKC GR testified in support of SB 885 and HB 1437 which would prevent housing and insurance entities from discriminating against owners of dogs based upon breed, size or appearance. An alert was issued encouraging Massachusetts dog owners to express support.
Massachusetts – SB 230 and HB 384 seek to ban the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops unless they are sourced from animal shelters or rescue organizations. Similar to past versions, the proposed animal shelter and rescue definitions are problematic because they exclude rescue activities by breeders. The bills initially were assigned to the Joint Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee for review, which last session redrafted them to create consumer protections irrespective of the source of the pet. The bills have been reassigned to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. AKC GR anticipates public hearings this fall.
Massachusetts – HB 305 would establish 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 and testified at the public hearing in July. Following the hearing, AKC GR had the opportunity to submit recommended changes for the bill.
Massachusetts – HB 378 would require anyone who grooms a pet for money to pass approved testing standards and obtain a state grooming license. Grooming facilities would also undergo periodic inspections to ensure compliance with rules and regulations issued. Use of a cage or box dryer would be prohibited. Violations would result in penalties ranging from $100 to $1,000 per offense. AKC GR testified at the public hearing on July 12, 2021, regarding concerns detailed in AKC GR’s alert. Following the hearing, AKC GR met virtually with the bill sponsor’s office and outlined suggested amendments to the legislation, which are being considered.
Michigan – House Bills 4703 and 4704 address the issue of animals being seized, and the payment of their care during impoundment. As introduced, the bills amend current law and clarify that the owner or possessor may request a hearing within 14 days to determine if the requirement to pay is justified and the cost is fair and reasonable. AKC greatly appreciates that the owner has an opportunity for a hearing before payments are required. If, however, the court determines that the costs are reasonable, then the animal will be permanently relinquished to the impounding agency unless the owner pays the required amount. The defendant’s ability to pay may not be considered by the court. The payments must be made every 30 days until the criminal action is resolved. Any missed payments will result in the defendant permanently losing the rights to the animal. The bills had a hearing on September 28, but no action was taken. Read more.
New Hampshire – HB 92 would establish a committee to study best practices for companion animal groomers. The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee held a work session on September 7, and October 13, 2021. The committee is expected to take action at their executive session scheduled for October 26.
New Hampshire – HB 366 would authorize a court to order psychological evaluation and treatment for animal cruelty caused by animal hoarding disorder. The House Environment and Agriculture Committee held a work session on September 14, where AKC GR reviewed recommended changes to the draft. The committee voted to next secure review and input from the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who is a retired judge. AKC GR participated in that review process and the Chairs are now working on amendments.
New Hampshire – SB 17, among other provisions, would permit brew pubs to allow customers to bring dogs onto outdoor areas. The Senate Commerce Committee held a work session on the bill on September 8, and October 13, 2021. A decision will be released at the executive session scheduled for October 26.
New Hampshire – House lawmakers have completed the filing of bills for consideration in 2022. Although text is not yet available, two are of immediate concern to AKC GR. LSR 2022-2690 would prohibit the use of canine units in law enforcement and LSR 2022-2617 would prohibit the capture, possession, and propagation of hares and rabbits for hunting, training and field trials. AKC GR has reached out the bill sponsors and notified impacted dog owners/handlers.
New York – AB 4075/SB 4254 seek to prohibit insurers from refusing to issue, renew or cancel; or raise premiums for homeowner’s insurance based on breed of dog (or mixed-breed) owned by the policyholder. The bill does allow for insurance companies to take these actions if any dog (regardless of breed) has been declared dangerous based on current law, so long as these actions are based on “sound underwriting and actuarial principles” reasonably related to actual or anticipated loss. This legislation, supported by the AKC, has passed both the Assembly and the Senate and will soon be transmitted to the governor. AKC issued an alert encouraging dog owners and clubs to contact the governor and ask her to sign this legislation.
Oregon – Animal rights activists are currently 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. AKC is working with two broad coalitions to oppose the measure. Read more.
Pennsylvania – HB 142 would exempt certain Dog Law revenues from being transferred into a separate account. Since 1988, all fines, fees and costs collected by the Pennsylvania judicial system in excess of the amount collected from the same sources during Fiscal Year 1986-87 are deposited into the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account. This includes certain monies that would otherwise be used to fund operations of the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement has been operating at a deficit because the licensing fees it receives do not generate enough revenue to fund operations. HB 142 would exempt from transfer approximately $200,000/year in fines, court fees and costs received under the Dog Law. HB 142 passed the House and is now in the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
Pennsylvania – HB 526 / SB 232 are reintroductions of legislation from last session that seek to increase dog license fees to provide additional funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. As proposed, the legislation changes the dog licensing requirement from 12 age weeks to 8 weeks but eliminates differentiation between intact and spayed/neutered dogs. AKC GR and the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs met with the Bureau director regarding the proposed legislation. AKC GR was recently contacted regarding alternate language for the licensing requirement and recommended that it be kept at the current three months of age or older or upon transfer to a new owner, whichever comes first. Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement and the bill sponsors have indicated that they agree to the change. Both bills are in their respective chamber’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. AKC GR will continue the monitor these bills.
Pennsylvania – SB 234 seeks to establish a retail pet store ban in favor of showcasing shelter and rescue dogs for adoption. AKC GR met with the Senate staff to discuss the legislation and offer better alternatives than an outright ban. In both the meeting and follow up, AKC GR encouraged the sponsors to introduce enhanced consumer protection legislation that provides consumers with better information and protection irrespective of the source of dogs, including rescues and shelters which are currently exempt. AKC GR will continue to monitor the bill, which is pending in committee and likely will not be scheduled for a hearing or any committee action in the foreseeable future.
Pennsylvania – AKC GR has been working with State Senator Gene Yaw, on legislation to establish the Animal Welfare Board to review existing state laws and regulations related to the keeping and handling of animals. The Board is to be comprised of individuals representing various stakeholder organizations and representatives from the PA Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General’s office. Prior to the introduction of the bill, AKC GR met with the Senator’s staff to provide further suggestions to ensure appropriate stakeholders and experts are included on the board. As such, we suggested that the board include two members representing the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, ensuring that a kennel license holder was represented, and that an American Kennel Club representative was included. Further, to ensure the impact that we believe this Board could have, we suggested that it meet more frequently than the timeframe mentioned in the original draft. All of AKC GR’s suggestions have been included in the final draft which is now SB 907 and has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. AKC GR will continue to work with Senator Yaw’s office to encourage fast track passage of this legislation.
South Carolina – H 3066 seeks to increase penalties for teasing, injuring or killing a police dog or horse. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.
South Carolina – H 3067 seeks to require that any second violation of the Chapter on Cruelty to Animals, which includes violations under which no animal is harmed, would require forfeiture of ownership of all animals and a prohibition from owning an animal for five years. H 3067 has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary. This bill could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.
South Carolina – H 4094 contains problematic findings and seeks to restrict ownership of and require registration of fertile pit bull dogs with a governmental animal control agency. These requirements would apply to “American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers,” dogs displaying the physical traits of one or more of the listed breeds, or a dog exhibiting the distinguishing characteristics that conform to the standards established by the AKC for any of the breeds. AKC GR issued an alert and sent a letter of concern to subcommittee members. H 4094 appeared on the agenda of the House Special Laws Subcommittee, but was not considered during the 2021 session. It could be considered in 2022, the second year of South Carolina’s two-year session.
South Carolina – S 186 would remove certain exemptions for hunting dogs under state cruelty laws while protecting the use of recognized and responsible training techniques and devices. S 186 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
South Carolina – S 378 would increase penalties for teasing or injuring police dogs and horses, and provide that a person convicted must pay restitution for costs of restoring or replacing a police animal and complete 500 hours of community service. S 378 passed in the Senate and has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.
South Carolina – S 556 seeks to make changes to certain laws that govern trapping in the state. 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. The bill was favorably amended in committee to address certain concerns. It passed in the Senate and was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. Read AKC GR’s alert on S 556 as it was originally introduced.
Tennessee – HB 547 would require any person who, during a twelve-month period, possesses or maintains ten or more intact female adult dogs for the primary purpose of selling their offspring as household pets, to register with the Department of Commerce and Insurance. Registrants would be subject to inspections biennially and at the discretion of the commissioner, and rules and fees would be set by the commission. Registrants could not participate in organized or home-based dog rescue activities. AKC GR worked with sportsmen’s groups to oppose the bill, distributed information and talking points at Nashville-area dog shows, and met with key Senators prior to committee consideration. The bill was sent to “General Sub” in the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee, which means it has been put “on hold.” The Tennessee legislative session lasts two years, and therefore the bills remain active until the end of the 2022 session.
Tennessee – HB 1322 / SB 948 would require law enforcement agencies to annually report statistics and policies regarding police canine units to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) commission and require the POST commission to develop and implement state guidelines for the training, care, and use of police canine units for law enforcement purposes. Action was deferred on these bills until 2022. AKC GR will continue to monitor this legislation.
Texas – The Texas Legislature is now nearing the end of its third special session of 2021. Five agenda items were identified for the legislature to consider, none of which involve dog-related issues. Still, there were 5 bills introduced during the special session related to dogs. Four nearly identical tethering bills were introduced but only one SB 5 received consideration. SB 5 passed the Texas House and Senate and will be transmitted to the governor. Click here for more information.
Texas – The other dog related bill introduced during this special session was introduced in response to a tragic fire at a boarding kennel that killed seventy-five dogs. HB 147 if passed would require fire alarms and sprinkler systems in dog kennels if the kennels are not staffed 24/7. AKC has spoken to the sponsor to ensure the bill has no unintended consequences and the sponsor was happy to listen to feedback in the future when the bill receives consideration.
Wisconsin – AB 276 would allow the state to establish regulations regarding food establishments, so long as no rule bans allowing dogs or cats if the establishment only sells pre-packaged food. A similar bill, SB 298, would also allow regulations regarding food establishments, so long as no rules ban allowing dogs at retail food establishments that receive no more than 5% of total revenue from food sales. The bills are pending in the Senate Sporting Heritage, Small Business and Rural Affairs Committee. Read more.