An Iowa House Subcommittee is scheduled to consider a bill on Wednesday, February 5, that contains several provisions updating current laws to protect dog ownership.
Those who reside or participate in dog events in Iowa are encouraged to contact the subcommittee members prior to Wednesday’s hearing and express your support for the provisions of House File 474 that protect the rights of dog owners in the state (Scroll down for contact information).
House File 474 seeks to make several updates to Iowa’s laws, including:
- Updating ownership identification – Current law states that a dog is only deemed property if it is under 6 months of age or wearing a collar with a valid rabies vaccination tag. HF 474 would update this law and allow other forms of identification, including a microchip or tattoo.
Further, a dog may be only impounded if it is not immediately identifiable as property of an owner. The owner will be required to provide rabies credentials immediately
- Updating current law protecting dogs not wearing a rabies tag – Current law allows any person or police officer to kill a dog not wearing a rabies vaccination tag, unless the jurisdiction has provided for the confiscation and impoundment of dogs. This bill would update this section by stating instead that this is permitted only if the dog is pursuing, threatening, or injuring an individual or domestic animal (if the animal is not owned by the dog’s owner). Exemptions are included if it is a police dog on duty or performing an official function, the dog is protecting its owner’s or the owner’s family’s life or property, or the dog is performing a lawful task for which it is trained.
- Establishing new guidelines for confiscation of animals– The bill would also add a new section of law stating that a local board of health or law enforcement officer may not confiscate a dog without a court order. The court shall then determine if the dog should be impounded, after there is a hearing to determine the dog’s ownership.
If a dog is impounded, it cannot be placed with a private party. AKC understands that the concern is the dog being placed with a rescue group, but would prefer to see allowance for co-ownership rights. Also, if the dog is impounded and ownership is established, the dog may not be sterilized and must be provided with a standard of care as outlined in law that takes into account the dog’s breed, age and health condition.
- Establishing a new offense of false reporting – HF 474 would create the misdemeanor of filing a false report if a person knowingly provides incorrect or incomplete information to a local board of health or law enforcement, knowing that the report will result in the confiscation of an owned dog.
The bill also allows for rabies titers in certain circumstances. AKC is not taking a position on this section of the bill, as it is unclear how this would apply under the new regulations passed in Iowa in 2019 that do not allow for titers in the state.
What You Can Do:
Those who reside or participate in dog events in Iowa are encouraged to contact the subcommittee prior to the hearing on Wednesday, February 5, at 3:00 pm, and comment on House File 474:
Rep. Dean Fisher
Rep. David Kerr
Rep. Jeff Kurtz
AKC Government Relations will continue to monitor this proposal and provide more information as it becomes available. For questions, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.