The Delaware House Health and Human Development Committee approved bills seeking to regulate barking dogs and granting immunity for animal cruelty reporting after a recent hearing. Delaware residents are strongly encouraged to contact their State Representatives (see below 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. See previous alert.
Along with existing exempts from previous legislation (HB 84) which HB 124 replaces, additional exemptions were included after AKC’s discussions with the sponsor to provide exemptions for dogs barking at animals (squirrels, rabbits, etc.) intruding on private party where the dog is located, and for dogs participating in events and training as well as hunting and herding.
AKC strongly supports responsible pet ownership and reasonable laws regarding the ownership and care of animals. However, even as amended, 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 by any person who has an issue with their dog owning neighbor.
Delaware’s Office of Animal Welfare, whose officers would be tasked with enforcing the law, also opposes the bill. We continue to express our believe that this bill seeks to make barking dogs (which is a local nuisance issue) a state matter and does little to protect dogs, as it has the real potential of tying up Animal Control on trivial matters because someone is annoyed that their neighbor’s dog barks for 15 minutes, instead of pursing real animal abuse.
What You Can Do: House Bill 124 has yet to be scheduled for a vote by the full House. We encourage you to do the following:
Contact House Leadership at the link provided and ask that the bill not be added to a House voting agenda.
Contact your State Representative and ask them to oppose House Bill 124 should it appear on a House voting agenda. Visit the Delaware House of Representatives website and then click on your Representative’s name. You can also find the contact information by typing your address in the “Find Your Elected Officials” box on the home page of the AKC Legislative Action Center and view the name and information for your State Representative.
Senate Bill 71- Immunity for Animal Cruelty Reporting
Senate Bill 71 is on the House Agenda for tomorrow’s (May 9) 2pm session. It 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. This will be considered by the full House during session tomorrow.
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, we remain concerned that this bill could provide an avenue for excessive, frivolous, or even persecutorial reporting – punishing responsible owners and creating significant burdens on the state. Additionally, 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:
Those who would like contact members of the House regarding Senate Bill 71 prior to tomorrow’s 2pm session may do so by clicking here and then clicking on your State Representative’s name. You can also find the contact information by typing your address in the “Find Your Elected Officials” box on the home page of the AKC Legislative Action Center and view the name and information for your State Representative.
AKC Government Relations continues to monitor legislation in Delaware impacting dog owners. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.