This Wednesday, May 3, the Delaware House Health and Human Development Committee will be considering bills seeking to regulate barking dogs and granting immunity for animal cruelty reporting.
Delaware residents are encouraged to contact the committee and express your concerns with House Bill 124 regulating barking dogs and express comments and concerns you may have with SB 71 regarding cruelty reporting. Scroll down for more information.
House Bill 124 – Regulating Barking Dogs
House Bill 124 would prohibit dogs from barking continuously for more than 15 minutes, or more than 30 minutes total in a day. It is an updated version of House Bill 84 (see previous alert) which provided very few exceptions to the prohibition.
AKC had numerous conversations with the sponsor expressing concerns. As a result, the sponsor added an exemption for dogs barking at animals (squirrels, rabbits, etc.) intruding on private property where the dog is located. Additionally, exemptions have been added for events and training as well as hunting and herding.
While we greatly appreciate the amendments, the bill continues to ignore the fact that dogs bark for many reasons not covered by the bill, which has the potential of making any dog owner in the state of Delaware subject to a complaint even if their dog is only barking outside for a limited time (for example, a dog barking outside for 10 minutes, 3 times a day would be in violation). It also has the potential of tying up state Animal Control officials on trivial matters because someone is annoyed that their neighbor’s dog barks instead of pursuing real animal abuse.
Given the diversity of Delaware’s urban, suburban, and rural areas, this issue is best left up to individual jurisdictions to decide what, if any, law relative to barking dogs is needed for their community and how it should be enforced. We continue to express our believe that this bill seeks to make barking dogs, a nuisance issue, a state matter and does little to protect dogs.
Senate Bill 71- Immunity for Animal Cruelty Reporting
Senate Bill 71 would provide immunity to people who, in good faith, report suspected animal cruelty from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise exist as a result of making the report.
The bill would also require law-enforcement agencies, the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, and the Department of Justice to report suspected animal cruelty to the Office of Animal Welfare if it is discovered while performing their responsibilities in child welfare cases.
While AKC strongly believes that those who treat animals in a cruel manner should be held accountable and punished accordingly, this bill raises a number of concerns. In some incidents, a person with no expertise in animal husbandry may misunderstand a situation. Further, it can provide an avenue for excessive, frivolous, or even persecutorial reporting – punishing responsible owners and creating significant burdens on the state.
In addition, the reporting requirement placed on official agents not qualified to do so could serve to either cause abuse to be reported where it does not exist, or the failure to report abuse where it does exist.
What You Can Do:
Contact the House Health and Human Development Committee members (click on the member’s name) prior to the 11:00 am hearing Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Respectfully let them know that you agree no one should be subjected to extended periods of continuous barking; however, House Bill 124 does not protect dogs nor their responsible owners and is a matter best handled at the local level.
To provide comments to individual members on Senate Bill 71, use the same link as above prior to the hearing.
Submit Public Comments to the Committee in advance of the committee meeting or by no later than 4:00 pm Thursday, May 4, 2023 via email to HouseCommitteeComment@delaware.gov
Provide Oral Testimony on either or both bills by attending the hearing in-person, or by dialing (1-800-285-6670) and providing the password (HEALTH) when prompted by the operator. The hearing will be held in the House Chamber.
Information on the hearing can be found here.
AKC Government Relations continues to monitor legislation in Delaware impacting dog owners. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at email@example.com.