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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Louisiana House Bill 710 is scheduled to be heard by the House Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development Committee on Thursday, May 28.  The bill seeks to require certain dog breeders to register annually with their parish and to submit to annual inspections of their facilities by local officials. 

The AKC supports reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who take their responsibilities seriously.  We strongly support the humane treatment of all dogs, regardless of the numbers in which they are kept –including an adequate and nutritious diet, clean water, clean living conditions, regular veterinary care, kind and responsive human companionship, and training in appropriate behavior.  

On its face, HB 710 may sound like a pragmatic step toward oversight of those dog breeders with 10 or more breeding female dogs. 

However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) is concerned that HB 710 unnecessarily duplicates federal regulatory oversight of breeders, employs vague and potentially unconstitutional requirements, imposes and an unfunded mandate on localities, and risks individuals without expertise in canine husbandry matters inspecting kennels. 

The AKC urges all concerned dog owners in Louisiana, as well as those concerned with the proposed growth of the government, particularly while the state is experiencing a historic economic shortfall, to contact the members of the committee (listed below), and urge them to oppose HB 710.

AKC’s specific concerns include:

  • HB 710 would duplicate oversight already provided by the federal government.  In 2012, the federal government vastly expanded the USDA’s oversight of many dog breeders.   Anyone who owns more than four breeding females and sells a pet sight unseen must be licensed, inspected, and regulated by the federal government.  Additional state laws that duplicate federal regulations at the expense of Louisiana’s taxpayers, especially during a historic state fiscal crisis that threatens public health and education programs, do not make sense.
     
  • HB 710 is vague and potentially violates procedural due process.  The bill references “state and local laws” as standards to be enforced by inspections.  However, with the exception of the state’s animal cruelty laws, Louisiana’s Revised Statutes, the state’s administrative code, and most localities do not provide specific care standards for dogs kept in kennel facilities.  Compliance “with state and local laws” as required by HB 710’s inspection mandate would otherwise be met by an individual providing required information as part of the bill’s registration process (i.e., kennel name, location, and tax ID number).  Furthermore, a law enforcement official may inspect a facility based on the criminal animal cruelty statute only by establishing probable cause that criminal activity is occurring at the individual’s premises and securing a warrant (in absence of certain exigencies) to enforce the animal cruelty statute.  Any attempt to inspect and enforce the standards in the state’s criminal animal cruelty statute would otherwise be an illegal search and seizure.     
     
  • HB 710 imposes an unfunded mandate on localities.  HB 710 would impose increased costs upon localities by requiring them to perform inspections of registered breeders’ facilities.  Efforts to comply with the state mandate may use resources needed by local animal control for immediate public safety needs. 
     
  • HB 710 increases the potential that individuals not knowledgeable or experienced in animal husbandry or care practices would inspect facilities that provide those services.  The bill only requires an annual inspection of the registered person’s facilities.  It fails to specify what governmental entity would be responsible for inspections.  Within the context of HB 710, local enforcement officials, many of whom are likely not expert in canine husbandry practices, would be, by default, responsible for inspecting facilities. 

Louisiana remains one of only four states that limit the property rights of its citizens by restricting the number of dogs an individual may own.  The American Kennel Club believes that instead of arbitrary limitations and thresholds, the state should focus its efforts on the quality of care being given to all of its dogs, no matter the manner or number in which they are kept. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Concerned dog owners in Louisiana, as well as those concerned with the negative fiscal impact of HB710, are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the committee (listed below) and respectfully urge them to oppose HB 710. 

Representative John F. “Andy” Anders, Chairman – larep021@legis.la.gov

Representative Bob Hensgens, Vice Chair – hensgensb@legis.la.gov

Representative Richard T. Burford – burfordr@legis.la.gov  

Representative Henry L. Burns – burnsh@legis.la.gov

Representative Thomas Carmody (HB 710 sponsor) – carmodyt@legis.la.gov

Representative Charles R. Chaney – chaneyb@legis.la.gov

Representative Jerry Gisclair – gisclairj@legis.la.gov

Representative John E. Guinn – guinnj@legis.la.gov

Representative Jeffrey “Jeff” Hall – hallj@legis.la.gov

Representative Lowell C. “Chris” Hazel – hazelc@legis.la.gov

Representative Dorothy Sue Hill – hilld@legis.la.gov

Representative Frank A. Howard  – howardf@legis.la.gov

Representative Mike Huval – huvalm@legis.la.gov

Representative Katrina R. Jackson – jacksonk@legis.la.gov

Representative Robert A. Johnson – johnsoro@legis.la.gov

Representative Terry Landry – landryt@legis.la.gov

Representative H. Bernard LeBas – lebasb@legis.la.gov

Representative Steve E. Pylant – pylants@legis.la.gov

Representative Major Thibaut  – thibautm@legis.la.gov

Representative Chuck Kleckley, Ex Officio (House Speaker) – larep036@legis.la.gov

Representative Walt Leger, III, Ex Officio (Speaker Pro Tempore) – legerw@legis.la.gov

Committee Secretary (legislative staff) – Karen Stephens – stephenk@legis.la.gov

Additionally, those interested in testifying in opposition to HB 710 are encouraged to attend Thursday’s meeting of the House Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development Committee.  The committee will meet upon adjournment (expected in the afternoon) in Committee Room 3 of the State Capitol, 900 N. 3rd Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802.  Click here for Directions to The Louisiana State Capitol. 

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

 

The American Kennel Club was established in 1884 and promotes the study, breeding, exhibiting, and advancement of purebred dogs.  AKC is the world’s largest not-for-profit purebred dog registry, and represents more than 5,100 dog clubs nationally, including 70 in Louisiana.  We, and our affiliated clubs and their thousands of members, advocate for the purebred dog as a family companion, advance canine health and well-being, protect the rights of dog owners, and promote the ideals of responsible dog ownership.  

Louisiana House Bill 710 is scheduled to be heard on Thursday, May 28! AKC is concerned that HB 710 unnecessarily duplicates federal regulatory oversight of breeders, employs vague and potentially unconstitutional requirements, imposes and an unfunded mandate on localities, and risks individuals without expertise in canine husbandry matters inspecting kennels. Louisiana’s dog owners and breeders should take action now!

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