Next week, several Connecticut General Assembly Joint Committees have scheduled public hearings on a number of bills impacting dogs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) is encouraging all dog owners to review this list and submit your comments via email to the respective committees.
- Sentencing Commission Review of Animal Cruelty Laws: SB 388 requires the Connecticut Sentencing Commission to review the animal cruelty laws in the state and other states and make recommendations, if any, to the legislature for changes to state laws. Recent media coverage has highlighted animal neglect and cruelty by animal importers and associated Connecticut shelters. However, on February 27, 2020, the state’s Department of Agriculture, the agency in charge of animal welfare, released for public comment proposed regulations establishing standards of care for animal importers and shelters. Instead of a establishing a new charge for the Sentencing Commission as provided in SB 388, AKC supports the regulatory package and believes final rule promulgation must be an immediate priority in the prevention of animal cruelty. -. (AKC will send a separate notice providing details on these proposed regulations and comment period.)
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Attend the Joint Committee on Judiciary hearing on Monday, March 9, 2020, at 10am in Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building (LOB), 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT. Bring 15 copies of your testimony. Residents not attending the hearing are encouraged to email the Committee members directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to support the Department of Agriculture’s regulatory process at this time as an alternative to SB 388.
- Taskforce on Dog Breed and Homeowners Insurance: HB 5368 would establish a task force composed of political appointees to study the use of breed of dog as an underwriting factor for homeowner’s insurance policies. AKC believes that insurance companies should determine coverage of a dog-owning household based on the dog’s deeds, not the dog’s breed. If a dog is a well-behaved member of the household and the community, there is no reason to deny or cancel coverage. As written, this bill provides no assurances that the taskforce’s composition would be fairly balanced in representing the perspectives of dog owners, in addition to insurers. AKC encourages the committee to amend the bill by identifying appointees from specific stakeholder groups, such as the Connecticut Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Attend the Joint Committee on Insurance and Real Estate hearing on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at 11am in Room 2D of LOB, 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT. Concerned residents not attending the hearing are encouraged to email the Committee members directly at email@example.com.
- Allowing Towns to Regulate Pet Shops/Commercial Entities: HB 5475 would amend state law to authorize cities and towns to adopt and enforce their own local obligations, restrictions or bans on state licensed pet shops. Animal rights advocates consistently include groomers, boarding facilities, and breeders among their categorization of pet shops, pet vendors, and commercial establishments. AKC supports state inspection and oversight of licensed entities in Connecticut but, is concerned this bill would result in both limiting consumers’ choice in obtaining a pet and creating a confusing patchwork of conflicting rules across the state for the public to navigate.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Attend the Joint Committee on Planning and Development hearing on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at 10am in Room 1C of LOB, 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT. Concerned residents not attending the hearing are also encouraged to email the Committee members directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Veterinarians Reporting Dogs Used in Fighting: SB 415 would require veterinarians report to local law enforcement agencies when they treat dogs they believe have been used in animal fighting. AKC supports state laws making any form of participation in organized dog fights a felony. We oppose dog fighting and the breeding and/or training of dogs for uncontrolled aggressive behavior towards other dogs and people.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Attend the Joint Committee on Environment hearing on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at 10:30am in Room 2B of LOB, 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT. Supportive residents not attending the hearing are encouraged to email the Committee members directly at email@example.com.
- Concerning Service Animals: HB 5440 would align state law with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act in prohibiting discrimination against a disabled person who uses a service animal and increase paid leave to 20 days for a disabled person to attend service animal training. It would also require the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to post educational materials on its website describing differences between service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals; the rights and responsibilities of an owner of each such animal under state and federal law; and permitted compliance methods under state and federal law for an owner of a place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement. AKC strongly supports public accommodations that allow individuals with disabilities to use service dogs and condemns characterizing dogs as service animals when they are not or attempting to benefit from a dog’s service dog status when the individual using the dog is not a person with a disability.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Attend the Joint Committee on Human Services hearing on Thursday, March 12, 2020, at 10:30am in Room 2A of LOB, 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT. Supportive residents not attending the hearing are encouraged to email the Committee members directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will provide additional information as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC GR at email@example.com.