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April 28, 2015

Attention Alabama Dog Owners:

Alabama House Bill 548 seeks to establish criminal penalties for failure to comply with overreaching, undefined, and arbitrary requirements for the care, feeding, and housing of dogs. 

Compliance with the problematic provisions of HB 548 would be required for every person or organization that has “custody or ownership” of ten or more intact dogs over the age of six months for the “purpose of breeding the dogs and selling the offspring”.    

HB 548 would also criminalize certain humane and accepted dog care practices commonly utilized by responsible owners and custodians of competition, military/police, working, hunting, herding/flock guardian, breeding, and pet dogs.

As HB 548 is written, a person or organization that owns or has custody of 10 or more unsterilized dogs and who breeds a single litter and sells a single puppy could be subject to the problematic requirements of the bill.  Violations of these overreaching provisions would be the pejorative crime of “operating a puppy mill”.

Concerned dog owners are urged to politely:

1.  Contact the sponsors of HB 548 to express your concerns with HB 548 and respectfully request withdrawal of this bill.  See contact information below. 

2.  Contact the chair and members of the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee to express your concerns and ask that they do not consider or advance HB 548.  See contact information below.

Provisions of concern with HB 548 include, but are not limited to:

  • It would be a crime to feed a dog less than twice a day. 
  • It would be a crime to fail to provide veterinary care for a dog for “any illness or injury”, regardless of the nature or severity. 
  • It would be a crime to allow any dog, male or female, to produce or sire more than two litters in an 18 month period. 
  • It would be a crime to fail to provide a dog “constant and unfettered access” to and from a primary enclosure.  A “primary enclosure” is not defined.
  • It would be a crime to fail to provide a dog with “adequate exercise” in an outdoor exercise area. This provision would criminalize other forms of exercise, such as leash walking, play time in dog parks, use of indoor exercise areas, and other commonly accepted methods for providing play time and exercise to dogs. 
  • It would be a crime to fail to provide a dog with “constant and unfettered access” to and from an outdoor exercise area. Safely securing a dog to protect it from extreme weather, predation, and to minimize the opportunity for nuisance barking would be a violation. 
  • It would be a crime to fail to provide a dog with “constant and unfettered access” to an indoor enclosure that does not fall below 45 degrees F, regardless of the dog’s breed, coat type, and conditioning. 
  • It would be a crime to fail to provide a dog with indoor “sufficient space”.  It is unclear if a dog house would be considered “indoor” space.  Further, the minimum dimensions required for “indoor space” would be greater than the space provided by an appropriately-sized dog house. 
  • It would be a crime to enclose a dog in a dog crate. 
  • It would be a crime to enclose a dog in a stacked enclosure with an impermeable barrier between the top and bottom enclosures, such as the enclosures commonly utilized in veterinary practices, boarding kennels, and animal shelters. 
  • It would be a crime to fail to have a dog examined by a veterinarian prior to each breeding cycle.  It is unclear if “breeding cycle” refers to a dog’s estrus, or how a “breeding cycle” would be defined for a male dog.
  • It would be a crime to fail to procure veterinary review every 30 days for a dog restricted from exercise due to age, infirmity, or while recovering from an injury or procedure. 

Violations of these and other overreaching and vaguely defined requirements would be the Class A misdemeanor of the pejorative crime of “operating a puppy mill”.  Each violation would constitute a separate offense. 

Contact information for sponsors of HB 548:

Rep. Paul Beckman, Dist. 88, 334-242-7499, paul.beckman@alhouse.gov, paulbeckmanjr@yahoo.com

Rep. Reed Ingram, Dist. 75, 334-242-7600, reedingram75@gmail.com, reed.ingram@alhouse.gov

Rep. Dimitri Polizos, Dist. 74, 334-242-7600, dimitri.polizos@alhouse.gov

Rep. Harry Shiver, Dist. 64, 334-242-7745, harry.shiver@alhouse.gov, harryshiver@aol.com

Rep. Jack J.D. Williams, Dist. 47, 334-242-7779, 205-862-5041, jack_williams@alhouse.gov, jack@jackwilliams.org
 

Alabama House Agriculture and Forestry Committee Members:

Rep. David Sessions, Chair, (334) 242-0947, mailto:david.sessions@alhouse.gov, mailto:d.r.sessions@att.net

Rep. Donnie Chesteen, Vice Chair, (334) 242-7742, mailto:donnie.chesteen@alhouse.gov, mailto:dchesteen@panhandle.rr.com

Rep. Richard J. Lindsey, (334) 242-7713, mailto:richard.lindsey@alhouse.gov

Rep. Will Ainsworth, (334) 242-7600, will.ainsworth@alhouse.gov

Rep. K. L. Brown, (334) 242-1778, klbrown@cableone.net

Rep. Randy Davis, (334) 242-7724, rmdavis14@aol.com, randy.davis@alhouse.gov

Rep. Joe Faust, (334) 242-7699, jfaust@baldwincountyal.gov, joe.faust@alhouse.gov

Rep. Bob Fincher, (334) 242-7600, rsfincher77@gmail.com, bob.fincher@alhouse.gov

Rep. Dexter Grimsley, (334) 242-7740, wlmdex@hotmail.com, dexter.grimsley@alhouse.gov

Rep. James T. Hanes, (334) 242-7600, tommy.hanes@alhouse.org, jhanes55@aol.com

Rep. Artis McCampbell, (334) 242-7747 artis.mccampbell@alhouse.gov

Rep. Jack W. Williams, (334) 242-7600, jackwilliams55@icloud.com,jack@votejackwilliams.com

Rep. Reed Ingram, HB 548 co-sponsor, see above, (334) 242-7600, reedingram75@gmail.comreed.ingram@alhouse.gov

Click here for additional House Agriculture and Forestry Committee contact information. 

The American Kennel Club strongly supports and actively promotes a wide range of programs to educate the public about responsible purebred breeding practices and the responsibilities of dog ownership.  For questions or more information, please contact AKC Government Relations at doglaw@akc.org or (919) 816-3720.

An overreaching dog breeder bill seeks to criminalize standard humane animal care practices and would define owners of 10 intact dogs who violate problematic provisions in the bill as “puppy mills”.

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