On Wednesday, January 27, 2021, two animal bills will be reviewed by the New Hampshire House Committee on Environment and Agriculture. Links to the bills’ text are embedded in the bill numbers below. The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly encourages those who reside in New Hampshire to contact the committee to express significant concerns.
HB 532 seeks to establish an electronic statewide animal records database that would collect health certificates, rabies vaccination and quarantine certificates, licensing information and other data. The stated purpose of the database is to document the transfer of ownership for any dog, cat, or ferret. Transfers would be monitored by the Department of Agriculture to enforce the requirement, adopted in 2019, that anyone transferring more than 25 dogs in a year would need to have a current pet vendor license. In order to acquire this license from the Department, an applicant must show they are in compliance with their town’s zoning rules, which has been challenging for dog breeders who do not operate a commercial kennel.
In addition to other sources of funding to create the database, the bill would require a payment of $2 upon rabies vaccination of any dog, cat or ferret. Unlike other pet owners, dog owners currently pay fees to towns when confirming rabies vaccinations and obtaining dog licenses. This municipal money is shared with the state and additional fees on dog group and kennel licenses support the state’s animal population control efforts.
This re-filed bill now includes text designed to protect personally identifiable information from being inappropriately shared (by allowing criminal charges if a breach occurs). However, it still does not clearly allow an individual harmed by any breach to bring their own lawsuit against anyone violating the confidentiality provisions. To protect pet vendors and breeders from harassment, intimidation, and threats from animal rights activists, data collected in the database must be limited to only information necessary for the Department to fulfill its duties and personally identifiable data must be completely protected.
Another bill under review:
- HB 438 provides text similar to the confidentiality protections included in HB 532, for any animal records database that may be established. Although the language is an improvement on the legislative proposal before the committee last year, it is inadequate for the reasons stated above.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: New Hampshire residents are strongly encouraged to email committee members at HouseEnvironmentandAgricultureCommittee@leg.state.nh.us to express concerns with HB 532 and HB 438. In addition, you may sign up to remotely attend and speak at the January 27, 2021, House Committee on Environment and Agriculture hearing, which starts at 10:AM by submitting in advance your name and contact information at http://gencourt.state.nh.us/house/committees/remotetestimony/default.aspx.
For more information on these or other legislative issues in New Hampshire, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at 919-816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Dog Owners of the Granite State at email@example.com.