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This morning, the Michigan Senate Agriculture Committee passed two bills that would establish a new Animal Welfare Commission in the state to create new rules, licensing, inspections, and other requirements for anyone who breeds dogs in Michigan.   

This commission will be given broad powers to regulate animal welfare in the state, and yet those directly impacted will not be given a voice.  Although the commission allows for two “breeders that are members of a national organization of dog breeders and owners”, as well as two seats for those involved in hunting and breeding dogs for hunting, the rest of the commission is comprised of nine other members, most of whom will not have the level of animal husbandry expertise and experience of breeders and sportsmen, nor will they be directly impacted by the commission’s actions. 
 
Michigan Code already regulates kennels in the state, including licensing requirements and extensive regulations regarding kennel sizes and the care and conditions in which dogs should be kept.  It is unclear why a new commission and new regulations are needed, when instead the focus should be on enforcement of current laws.   

There are only a few days left of session and these bills could move very quickly.  If you reside or participate in dog events in Michigan, please contact the State Senate TODAY and ask them to not allow House Bill 4898 or Senate Bill 339 to advance this session. 

Summary: 
Originally, House Bill 4898 and Senate Bill 339 sought to regulate those who owned more than 13 intact females, and breeders, the AKC and its state federation had been working with members to address concerns with these bills.  However, these bills were stricken in their entirety in committee this morning and replaced with new language to establish a new Animal Welfare Commission with broad powers.  These substitute bills were introduced and passed in committee with no opportunity for them to be properly reviewed and vetted by those who had been working on the original bills, or those who will be impacted by these changes.  There was no prior notification of these amendments.   

The proposed Animal Welfare Commission will consist of the following members, who must all be Michigan residents: 

  • Three employees or board members of a tax-exempt animal protection shelter that cares for more than 2,000 dogs each year 
  • One individual member of a tax-exempt animal rescue organization 
  • A USDA-accredited licensed veterinarian who “has experience in animal population health” 
  • Two individuals “involved in animal control” from different units of government and members of an animal control officer association 
  • “An individual from academia who specializes in animal welfare” 
  • An individual “who is a breeder specializing in breeds of dogs specific to hunting” 
  • An individual representing a “statewide hunting organization” 
  • “A member of the general public” (no other criteria listed) 
  • Two dog breeders “who are members of a national organization of dog breeders and owners” 
  • The Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (this is a non-voting position) 

This new commission will be given a broad range of powers to establish rules for “dog breeding operations”, which is not defined in the bill and is presumed to mean anyone who breeds even one dog.  Those directly impacted, who also have extensive expertise in animal science and husbandry, deserve a stronger voice on the commission.  Further, it is again unclear why the commission is even necessary.  The focus should instead be on enforcing the extensive laws regarding animal welfare that are already in place in the state. 

What You Can Do: 
These bills are moving very quickly, and the legislative session will adjourn very soon.  Please take the following actions TODAY: 

•    Contact the Senate President Pro Tempore and Senate Majority Leader and ask them to not allow HB 4898 or SB 339 to advance: 
Senate President Pro Tempore Tonya Schuitmaker 
Phone: (517) 373-0793 
E-mail form 
 
Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof:  
Phone: (517) 373-6920 
SenAMeekhof@senate.michigan.gov  
 
•    Contact Your State Senator and State Representative and express your concerns with these bills.  Visit the AKC Legislative Action Center and type your address in the “Find Your Elected Officials” box to get the name and contact information for your State Senator and Representative 
 
The AKC and Michigan Association for Pure-Bred Dogs are working to communicate our concerns to the Senate and closely monitoring these bills.  For more information, e-mail doglaw@akc.org  
 
 
 

This morning, the Michigan Senate Agriculture Committee passed two bills that would establish a new Animal Welfare Commission in the state to create new rules, licensing, inspections, and other requirements for anyone who breeds dogs in Michigan.

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