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2016 was another busy year for AKC Government Relations, its state federations, and responsible dog owners and breeders advocating for dogs. Over 2,200 bills impacting animals were monitored by AKC GR. Several new laws impacting dog owners and breeders were enacted over the past year. It is imperative for responsible owners to ensure they are in compliance with all laws.

Examples of new laws that were enacted in 2016 include the following:

  • Arizona became the 18th state to prohibit cities and towns from regulating dogs based solely on the dog’s breed, thereby protecting responsible dog owners and innocent dogs, while still ensuring that all dog owners are responsible for their dogs regardless of breed.  
  • Arizona and Ohio passed legislation to prohibit local governments from enacting laws that prevent pet stores from selling pets, so long as the animals are sourced from humane breeders that meet extensive criteria.  Ohio’s new law also licenses pet stores and requires them to submit to inspections and meet certain standards.  These bills allow families who choose to go to a pet store to have the confidence that they are purchasing a pet from a regulated source, and that the pet was raised in a healthy, humane environment. 
  • Maryland also approved a law (HB 1113) to ensure that pet stores and dealers in Maryland only obtain dogs from reputable breeders.  While the AKC opposed the legislative findings in this bill, we agree with the positive amendments to the law to help consumers know that when they purchase a dog from a pet store or dealer in Maryland, that dog was raised by a humane, ethical and regulated breeder.
  • Illinois and North Carolina passed new laws allowing officers or employees who had custody of a service, police, or search and rescue dog the opportunity to keep the dog when it retires from active service.  These new laws ensure the lifelong care of these animals, and honors the continued companionship and trust built between a handler and dog during their time of service.  
  • Virginia, after much input from the American Kennel Club and its state federation, approved a new law (SB 9) to permit law enforcement, firefighters, emergency services personnel and animal control officers to remove a dog from a vehicle when it is at risk of serious injury or death.  These persons would be exempt from liability for property damage for entering the vehicle, unless the damage results from gross negligence or willful misconduct. 

Other laws impacting dog owners and breeders that passed in 2016 include:

  • Louisiana (SB 337) limits retail pet stores to sourcing pets from government-run or contracted animal shelters, not-for-profit animal rescue organizations, or certain USDA Class A breeders who comply with the state’s 75 animal limit law (even if they are not residents of the state). 


  • Michigan (HB 4353) requires those who own more than 15 breeding female dogs (intact female dogs that have previously been bred), to comply with several new regulatory requirements, state licensing, and inspections.  The AKC and the Michigan Association for Pure-Bred Dogs successfully got several positive amendments into this measure, including removing a proposed ownership limit and provisions that would have required all dogs to be kept at a certain temperature, regardless of breed.  Those who meet the criteria for this new licensing should contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for more information.
  • Wisconsin passed a new law (SB 450) that shortens the time frame during which an owner may reclaim a lost dog from a shelter from 7 days to 4 days.  The law does state that a dog may not be euthanized until the 7th day.  The new law also requires owners to pay certain fees during an animal cruelty trial.  If the owner is more than 30 days late in making a payment, holding agencies may take permanent ownership of the animal. 

This is not a comprehensive list, and also does not include any local measures that may have passed in your community.  Dog owners and breeder advocates are urged to contact their local animal control to check if any measures or new requirements were passed in the last year on the state level or in the community in order to ensure you are in compliance with all state and local laws.