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The first year of Georgia’s two-year legislative session ended with several bills carrying over to 2024. The American Kennel Club Government Relations team (AKC GR) thanks the Georgia Canine Coalition, AKC club members, and every individual who contacted lawmakers and spread the word to fellow owners about bills that affect dogs.

Among the 2023-2024 bills tracked by AKC GR are:

Enacted in 2023

Senate Bill 155 increases protections for public safety animals, which include law enforcement and search and rescue animals. This bill that protects working K9s was signed by the Governor and enacted as Act 35.

Senate Bill 68 includes the offense of dog fighting as racketeering activity. It was signed by the Governor and enacted as Act 91.

Bills to Watch in 2024

House Bill 217 is an animal fighting bill that, among other provisions, makes it an offense to possess, purchase, or sell “fighting related objects.” AKC and the Georgia Canine Coalition seek clarifying language so that the use of treadmills and other common dog training, conditioning, and physical therapy equipment cannot be misinterpreted as illegal activity. Because Act 81 (SB 68, above) makes dog fighting both a criminal offense and a racketeering activity, it is important that all provisions in law related to dog fighting are clear, fair, and enforceable. The bill is assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

House Bill 573 seeks to restrict sales and transfers of pets on roadsides, parking lots, and certain other public areas. It is assigned to the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.

Senate Bill 142 seeks to problematically expand the definition of “dangerous dog” to include any dog that “demonstrates a propensity for domination or aggressive behavior as indicated by any of the following types of conduct: (i) Unprovoked barking, when people are present; (ii) Aggressively running along fence lines when people are present; or (iii) Escaping confinement or restraint to chase people.” Among other requirements, the owner of a “dangerous dog” would be required to provide proof of liability insurance in the amount of $500,000 specific to bodily injury or property damage caused by the dog. This overreaching bill has 36 co-sponsors. It is assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.

Senate Bill 330 seeks to stipulate conditions for dogs kept outdoors and establish penalties for noncompliance. It is assigned to the Senate Public Safety Committee.

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