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Thursday, April 07, 2016

An amended version of Louisiana Senate Bill 337 (original text here, adopted amendments here), which seeks to restrict retail pet stores’ sources of dogs and cats, was unanimously passed by the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs Committee on Wednesday, April 6.  The bill is now awaiting final passage in the State Senate.  The American Kennel Club is concerned with several remaining provisions of the bill, and urges Louisiana dog owners to contact their state senators and urge them to address these concerns prior to passage.

As currently worded, SB 337 would limit “retail pet stores” to sourcing pets from:

  • Those obtained from government run or government-contracted animal shelters.
  • Those obtained from not-for-profit animal rescue organizations.
  • Certain USDA Class A breeders who comply with the state’s animal ownership limit law (of 75 animals) – regardless of whether they are actually residents of the state. 

SB 337 also requires retail pet stores to comply with enclosure signage and record keeping requirements, and allows municipalities and parishes to establish more stringent restrictions governing the sale of animals at retail pet stores. 

AKC’S VIEW:
The AKC believes the best way for a person to obtain a new pet is through personal interaction with a pet’s breeder and the pet under consideration. This helps a prospective pet buyer find a pet that is a good fit for their lifestyle.

However, finding a local breeder isn’t always possible for everyone, and treasured pets may be obtained from a variety of sources, including breeders, pet stores, responsible rescues, and local shelters.  Local, regulated pet shops provide a safe and legitimate option for new pet owners who want a specific breed of pet with predictable type, temperament, care requirements and health checks; that has been bred by a licensed and regulated professional; and is subject to consumer protection laws.

AKC’S CONCERNS:
First, the American Kennel Club questions the Constitutional validity of requiring Class-A licensees to comply with the state law’s 75-dog ownership limit in R.S. 3:2772(H).  Imposing this requirement on Class-A licensees not located in Louisiana but that supply Louisiana retail pet stores with pets bred by known, regulated, and inspected sources may prove to be an impermissible burden on interstate commerce. 

Second, the AKC is deeply concerned with allowing localities to enact stricter regulations on the sale of pets. Affording localities this power will likely further restrict Louisiana’s consumers’ ability to obtain quality pets that are the best for their lifestyle, that are from the source of their choosing, and that have been subject to regulated and inspected sources. 

As seen in other states and localities around the country, proposals like SB 337 that are likely to lead to local bans on the sale of pets from known, regulated and inspected sources, and to allow only the sale/adoption of pets from unknown, unregulated and uninspected sources, do the exact opposite of its purported intent: They remove available consumer protections for new pet owners and potentially increase public health risks for the entire community. If SB 337 is enacted as currently worded, families in Louisiana may lose an important source for choosing a pet that is the best fit for their lifestyle and circumstances.  Unfortunately, many communities lack sufficient local breeders to meet the demand for the specific pets desired by local residents. Those seeking a puppy that is a specific breed from a professional breeder subject to USDA or state animal welfare standards will likely be forced to purchase a puppy elsewhere, or to obtain a pet of unknown origin and health history or status.  When consumers cannot acquire a pet that is an appropriate fit for their lifestyle, that animal is more likely to end up in the shelter system. A better solution is to ensure that consumers are educated, understand the demands of responsible ownership and have access to a variety of pets so that they can make educated choices.  Louisiana’s consumers will be better protected by a uniform state policy. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Concerned breeders and residents are strongly encouraged to immediately contact their state senator, and urge them address the above concerns prior to passage to the House.

To find your Louisiana State Senator, go to https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/FindMyLegislators.aspx and enter your address. 

Cut and paste the following text in an email to express concern with SB 337:

State Senator __________:

I am a constituent and concerned with Senate Bill 337, which seeks to limit the sources of dogs in Louisiana. 

I am first concerned with the Constitutional implications of SB 337’s requiring all Class-A breeders, regardless of whether they are located in Louisiana or not, to comply with our state’s 75-dog ownership limit.  I believe requiring Class-A breeders located in other states to comply with this law may be found to be an impermissible burden on Interstate Commerce.  Such regulations may only come from Congress.  I respectfully request the removal of this requirement. 

Second, I am concerned that by allowing parishes and cities and towns to enact stricter restrictions on pet stores, it may ultimately lead to effectively eliminating dog and cats being sold in pet stores unless sources from shelters and rescues.  This is a legislative trend seen in other states—unsuccessfully in Maine in 2015, and most recently in New Jersey (SB 63) this year—that is unreasonably seeking to limit the availability of dogs and cats from known, regulated and inspected sources, in favor of dogs that do not have substantiated backgrounds and health histories.  I urge the removal of this provision to ensure a uniform state policy regarding the sales of dogs and cats. 

Thank you for your consideration of these important points. 

Sincerely,
[Name]
[City, State]
[Phone Number]
[Email address]

###

For more information, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at 919-816-3720, or email doglaw@akc.org.  

An amended version of Louisiana Senate Bill 337, which seeks to restrict retail pet stores’ sources of dogs and cats, was unanimously passed by the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs Committee on Wednesday, April 6. The bill is now awaiting final passage in the State Senate. The American Kennel Club is concerned with several remaining provisions of the bill, and urges Louisiana dog owners to contact their state senators and urge them to address these concerns prior to passage.

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