New Hampshire Senate Bill 569, which seeks to expand those considered “commercial kennels” by the state and create bond for care requirements, has been amended by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill may be voted on during the next session of the full New Hampshire State Senate, which is currently scheduled for Thursday, March 8. Both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Dog Owners of the Granite State (DOGS) continue to have major concerns with the provisions of Senate Bill 569. All concerned dog owners in New Hampshire are strongly encouraged to contact their state senator and urge them to address these concerns prior to voting on SB 569.
As amended, SB 569:
- Defines “breeding female” as an unspayed female dog, 12 months of age or older kept or maintained for the purpose of breeding and selling the dog’s offspring. The original definition did not feature a minimum age threshold.
- Defines “commercial kennel” as a person that keeps, maintains, or owns 7 or more breeding female dogs OR transfers 10 or more litters or 50 or more puppies in any 12-month period. It includes a person that keeps, maintains, or owns dogs on the same property as another person who also keeps, maintains, or owns dogs and the total number of breeding female dogs on the property is 7 or more. The term shall not be taken into consideration for any zoning purposes.
Under the original definition, a person with 5 breeding female dogs would have qualified as a commercial kennel. While the AKC appreciates the sponsor’s effort at amending the bill, we still maintain that requiring both ownership and sales minimums would be a more effective measure of true commercial activity deserving of state oversight.
- Permits any person to submit a written complaint to the Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food that a pet vendor licensee is violating care and conditions requirements. Such complaints would trigger further inspection of facilities. The bill, however, fails to provide for redress of instances when written complaints were submitted only to harass compliant licensees.
- Permits confiscation of a person’s animals if they are charged with cruelty to animals (not convicted) and they fail to post an animal care bond for care requirements for those charged with cruelty to animals. Upon such confiscation, a court may dispose of said animals in any manner it decides. Bonds may be set as high as $2,000 for each animal in custody.
SB 569’s amended language seeks to address cases when an indigent defendant may not be able to comply with the bond for care requirements by providing, “If the owner is unable to pay the bond, the court shall not fine the owner for nonpayment.” We believe the amended language is vague, as the subsection in question does not require that fines be assessed against such a defendant. Therefore, we recommend that the new language be revised to read, “If the owner proves his or her inability to pay the bond at the hearing, the court shall waive the bond requirements and no forfeiture of ownership shall occur during pendency of the criminal matter.”
SB 569 also fails to specifically protect the property interests of non-possessory co-owners of confiscated animals. The AKC also recommends that the proposal must be amended to specifically protect the property interests of non-possessory co-owners by requiring they be first in line to take confiscated animals prior to their release to a shelter or rescue.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Concerned New Hampshire residents are strongly encouraged to contact their state senator prior to Thursday, March 8, and respectfully request SB 569 not move forward until the concerns above are addressed.