Connecticut General Assembly Joint Committees have re-scheduled public hearings for March 16 and 17, 2020, on bills impacting dogs. Due to continued cancellations of public events in the Legislative Office Building, the American Kennel Club (AKC) is encouraging all dog owners to submit comments via email to the respective committees.
- Allowing Towns to Regulate Pet Shops/Commercial Entities: HB 5475 would amend state law to authorize cities and towns to adopt and enforce local restrictions or bans on “pet shops” selling dogs. These proposed bans routinely require pet shops and pet vendors to exclusively offer dogs and cats for adoption from animal importers and shelters.
Legislation promoted by animal rights advocates consistently includes groomers, boarding facilities, and breeders among their categorization of “pet shops, pet vendors, and commercial establishments” that should be banned from selling dogs; and is evident throughout recent New England proposals. For example, in New Hampshire last year, the definition of “pet vendor” was changed and includes breeders who transfer more than 25 dogs (two large litters) in a year. Today, New Hampshire’s House of Representatives is expected to vote on HB 1388 that would ban all pet vendors from selling dogs completely. In January, Smithfield, RI, considered this same ban for pet shops and other commercial establishments, including breeders in town operating grooming or boarding facilities.
AKC supports state inspection and oversight of all licensed entities in Connecticut, whether they sell or rehome dogs. While breeders and pet stores have been the subject of increased critical focus and regulation, Connecticut regulatory controls over animal welfare organizations are long overdue. Although Connecticut statutes requiring oversight and regulation of animal importers and shelters were adopted in 2011 and 2017, only two weeks ago, on February 27, 2020, the Department of Agriculture proposed the regulations implementing health and safety standards for animal importers and shelters.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Before the Joint Committee on Planning and Development’s re-scheduled hearing, on the calendar for 10AM, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Room 1C of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, email the Committee members directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . Make the following points:
- Vote NO on HB 5475. Do not allow cities and towns to restrict consumer choice on where to obtain a pet by limiting them to animals from importers and shelters.
- Lack of regulations for Connecticut animal importers and shelters has increased the risk of diseased animals entering the state.
- Media coverage continues to highlight animal neglect and cruelty by animal importers and associated Connecticut shelters. The Houston press reported last month that animals are still being delivered to the SPCA of Connecticut, run out of a foreclosed home that is set for court-ordered auction this month.
- The public has been put at multiple risks already without HB 5475. Should HB 5475 be enacted, the number of dogs being imported into Connecticut will only increase.
- Dogs imported for retail rescue and shelter sales often lack reliable background or health information.
- Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control banned importing dogs from Egypt due to rabies transmission.
- People rehoming a dog are not being provided the same mandated-consumer protections when dogs are sourced from breeders or commercial establishments.
- HB 5475 would create a confusing patchwork of conflicting rules across the state for the public to navigate.
- 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 increasing 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: Email the Joint Committee on Human Services members directly at email@example.com before the re-scheduled hearing on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 12AM, with the following comments:
- Please support HB 5440 concerning service animals.
- Service dogs are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
- Connecticut must educate the community about the important work these dogs perform in order to support the ability of those with disabilities to enjoy public life.
AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will provide additional information as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.