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The Nebraska Legislature’s Agriculture Committee will consider several bills on Tuesday, February 17 that will impact dog owners and breeders, including a bill (LB 377) that could force a dog owner to forfeit their animals for only a suspicion of animal cruelty – even before a conviction by the court.

AKC encourages dog owners and breeders in Nebraska to contact the Agriculture Committee and express your opposition to Legislative Bill 377, and express any other comments or concerns with the other bills under consideration.  Scroll down for committee contact information.

Bill Summaries:

The following bills are scheduled for consideration on Tuesday, February 17:

Legislative Bill 377 – This bill would require a hearing to be held within 10 business days of an animal being impounded to determine the disposition of the animal and the cost of caring for it during a trial.  If the court finds that there is probable cause (not a conviction) of a violation that poses a threat to the health or safety of the animals, then the court may order the immediate forfeiture of the animals and authorize “appropriate disposition” – including sale at a public auction, adoption of the animal, “donating” the animal to a shelter, or euthanasia. 

The court may also, on probable cause, order the owner to post a bond, security or other payment to cover “an amount … sufficient to reimburse all reasonable expenses” for the care of the dog or cat that is incurred while the animal is impounded.  If the monies have been exhausted and another payment has not been made, or if a payment is late, then ownership of the pet would be forfeited.  These payments must also be continued to be made during any appeals process.  If the owner is ultimately found not guilty, then any additional funds not used will be returned.  The bill does not, however, state if ownership rights will be restored.

The AKC opposes this bill, which violates the owner’s right of due process and force an owner to permanently surrender their animals without a conviction of cruelty. 

Legislative Bill 389 – This bill would change the license fee structure for certain dog breeders.  Currently, the annual license fee is graduated based on the number of dogs owned.  LB 389 would keep the $150 annual fee for those who own up to 10 dogs.  However, those who own 11 or more dogs or cats must pay $150 plus an additional $10 for every dog owned. 
The bill also states that if a second inspection is required for a breeder, then the breeder must pay a $150 re-inspection fee, plus the current mileage rate for the inspector.  There is no cap on this fee.

Legislative Bill 360 – This bill makes several changes to the state’s Commercial Dog Breeder and Operator Inspection Act, which applies in part to all who own or harbor at least 4 dogs “intended for breeding” within a 12 month period. 

The bill defines “significant threat to the health or safety of dogs or cats”, a term that is used often in Nebraska law but has not previously been defined.  It is defined to include failure to provide shelter or protection that results in life-threatening conditions, acute injuries involving potentially life-threatening medical emergencies in which the owner refuses to seek immediate medical care, egregious human abuse and lack of sanitation, or not providing food or water resulting in potential starvation or severe dehydration.  The AKC believes this is a reasonable definition. 

The bill also states that a one-time license fee of $125 must be paid by all applicants, as well as an annual fee based on the current license rates.  If the owner has more than one type of license as required by the state, they only have to pay one annual fee based on the primary activity occurring at the location (for example, if it is primarily a breeding kennel, but some grooming is done on premises as well, the owner would only need to pay the annual breeding kennel fee). 

LB 360 also clarifies that that the annual fee is determined by the total number of “breeding dogs or cats” owned or harbored over the previous 12 months.  A specific time frame is not currently clear in statute.  In addition, an inspection would no longer be required for every applicant (it is up to the discretion of the department); however, inspections must still be conducted at least once every 24 months, as it states in current law. 
Legislative Bill 359 – Under this bill, any locality that imposes a license tax on dog or cat owners would be required to increase the fee imposed in addition to the tax from $1.00 to $1.25. 

Contact Information for the Nebraska Legislature Agriculture Committee:

Contact the committee and ask them to oppose Legislative Bill 377 and express any comments you have on the other bills scheduled for consideration.  The bills are scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, February 17.

Sen. Jerry Johnson, Chair
Phone: (402) 471-2719
Email: jjohnson@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Dave Bloomfield
Phone: (402) 471-2716
Email: dbloomfield@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Ernie Chambers(402) 471-2612
No e-mail address

Sen. Burke Harr
Phone: (402) 471-2722
Email: bharr@leg.ne.gov

 

Sen. Mark Kolteman
Phone: (402) 471-2756
Email: mkolterman@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Tyson Larson
Phone: (402) 471-2801
Email: tlarson@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Merv Riepe
Phone: (402) 471-2623
Email: mriepe@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Ken Schilz
Phone: (402) 471-2616
Email: kschilz@leg.ne.gov

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