Friday, March 30, 2018
After amendment and passage by the New Hampshire Senate, Senate Bill 569, which seeks to expand those considered “commercial kennels” by the state and create bond for care requirements, has been scheduled for consideration by the House Environment and Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Dog Owners of the Granite State (DOGS), AKC’s New Hampshire federation of breeder and owner advocates, appreciate a number of the amendments that have been made to the measure in response to our concerns. However, we continue to have concerns with other provisions of Senate Bill 569. All concerned dog owners in New Hampshire are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee and urge them to address additional concerns prior to voting on SB 569.
As currently worded, Senate Bill 569:
- For the purposes of determining whether a breeder would be considered a commercial kennel, defines “breeding female” as an unspayed female dog, 24 months of age or older kept or maintained for the purpose of breeding and selling the dog’s offspring. Any unspayed female bred prior to reaching 24 months of age shall be considered a breeding female.
The bill’s original definition did not feature a minimum age threshold, but has already been amended twice so that unspayed females must be at least 24 months to be counted toward the commercial kennel threshold. We appreciate this change.
- 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. The AKC still maintains 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 (even without being convicted) and they fail to post an animal care bond for care as required by those charged with cruelty to animals. Upon such confiscation, a court may dispose of the animal(s) in any manner it decides, even if the owner is later found not guilty or the charges are dismissed. 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. Instead, 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 the members of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee prior to their meeting on Wednesday, April 4, and respectfully request that SB 569 be amended in line with the aforementioned recommendations prior to passage. The entire committee may be contacted by emailing HouseEnvironmentandAgricultureCommittee@leg.state.nh.us.
Representative John O’Connor, Chairman (Rockingham- District 06)
13 Arrowhead Road
Derry, NH 03038-3715
Representative Stephen Darrow, Vice Chairman (Grafton- District 17)
463 Slab City Road
Grafton, NH 03240-3831
Representative Peter Bixby, Committee Clerk (Strafford- District 17)
69 Glenwood Avenue
Dover, NH 03820-2305
Representative Richard Gordon (Rockingham- District 35)
4 Burnt Swamp Road
East Kingston, NH 03827-2102
Representative Barbara Comtois (Belknap- District 07)
PO Box 186
Center Barnstead, NH 03225-0186
Representative Kevin Verville (Rockingham- District 02)
9 McCarron Road
Deerfield, NH 03037-1729
Representative Donna Ellis (Strafford- District 08)
488 Portland Street
Rochester, NH 03867-2424
Representative Beth Richards (Merrimack- District 13)
3 Willard Street
Concord, NH 03303-3509
Representative Aboul Khan (Rockingham- District 20)
3 Greenleaf Drive
Seabrook, NH 03874-4045
Representative Anne Copp (Merrimack- District 01)
41 Sheldon Road
Danbury, NH 03230-4833
Representative Paula Francese (Rockingham- District 18)
6 Granite Street
Exeter, NH 03833-3128
Representative Sherry Frost (Stafford- District 16)
103 Mast Road
Dover, NH 03820-4452
Representative Catherine Sofikitis (Hillsborough- District 34)
54 Marshall Street
Nashua, NH 03060-4622
Representative Matthew Scruton (Strafford- District 12)
195 Ten Rod Road
Rochester, NH 03867-4246
Representative Howard Pearl (Merrimack- District 26)
409 Loudon Ridge Road
Loudon, NH 03307-1708
Representative Alan Turcotte (Merrimack- District 22)
3 High Ridge Trail
Allenstown, NH 03275-2128
Representative Amanda Gourgue (Strafford- District 25)
61 Thompson Mill Road
Lee, NH 03861-4420
Representative Caleb Dyer (Hillsborough- District 37)
122 Old Bridge Street
Pelham, NH 03076-5705
Concerned New Hampshire residents are also strongly encouraged to attend the Wednesday, April 4, 2018, hearing of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee and respectfully express their concerns with SB 569 in person. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10AM in Rooms 301-303 of the Legislative Office Building, 33 N. State St., Concord, NH 03301.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
AKC will continue to provide updates on SB 569 as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Dog Owners of the Granite State (DOGS) at www.nhdogs.org.