The Oregon Legislature has concluded its 2023 legislative session. AKC actively monitored and participated in numerous bills before the legislature this year. Some of the more significant bill proposals from 2023 are listed below. Notably, due to a walkout by the minority party in the state Senate, many bills (not just related to bills of AKC interest) did not advance because of a lack of time to be considered before the end of the session.
While the session is adjourned, we are seeing many local governments across the country considering proposals that would impact dog owners in their community. We encourage Oregon residents to watch local media and county and municipal government agendas to ensure nothing is being proposed that would impact dog owners and breeders.
To see what’s going on around the country – including crucial legislation in Congress – visit the AKC Legislative Action Center at www.akcgr.org. Here you can also find resources and talking points on a broad variety of canine policy issues to help you and your club be effective advocates for dogs.
A review of notable bills impacting Oregon dog owners this session include:
- House Bill 2915 – Pet Choice Restrictions.
Status: Signed by governor.
Summary: This bill ends the sale of all dogs and cats at pet stores with a five-year exemption for existing pet stores. The legislation also allows for cities to enact even more stringent laws that would restrict pet choice. After September 1, 2028, existing pet stores will no longer be able to sell dogs and cats. AKC opposed this bill as written throughout the process and encouraged the legislature to instead consider consumer protection that would protect dogs and pet purchasers without limiting the ability to Oregonians to find the right pet for their family. Visit the Pet Choice key issues page in the AKC Legislative Action Center for more information on AKC’s position on this issue.
- Senate Bill 496 – Assisting vulnerable populations with pets.
Status: Failed in state Senate.
Summary: Senate Bill 496 was written to address the problem of vulnerable populations not being able to access public shelters due to facilities restricting access to pets. As many vulnerable people are loathe to enter shelter without their pets, this current environment has forced people who need shelter the most to remain in dangerous situations. It is estimated that between 10 and 25 percent of homeless people have pets, and that 73% of domestic violence victims with pets are further traumatized by their abusers who use their pets as leverage to stay in dangerous situations. Senate Bill 496 aimed to address these populations to ensure merely owning a pet is not a barrier to access much needed shelter. Further, Senate Bill 496 would have enabled shelters to provide pet assistance with items like petfood and basic veterinary services.
Unfortunately, Senate Bill 496 was not able to advance in the chaotic legislative session. However, AKC appreciates and strongly supports the concept of this bill and looks forward to supporting similar future legislation in the future.
- Senate Bill 696 – Funding for State-Appointed Animal Cruelty-Focused Attorney.
Status: Failed in state Senate.
Summary: This bill would have appropriated moneys to Department of Justice out of General Fund to fund animal cruelty-focused attorney within department’s Criminal Justice Division. AKC had concerns that the bill did not specify any qualifications for the attorney or provide any details as to the scope of this new role. As such, it was unclear what the impact could have been on dog owners in the state. The AKC opposed the bill in the way it was introduced.
Update on Proposed Ballot Initiative:
- Initiative Petition 3 (IP3)— “Abuse, Neglect, and Assault Exemption Modification and Improvement Act”.
Status: Supporters of the proposal have collected approximately 30,000 signatures (120,413 needed) to qualify in advance of a July 1, 2024, deadline to qualify for the general election ballot in November 2024.
Summary: In the words of supporters, IP3, known as the “Abuse, Neglect, and Assault Exemption Modification and Improvement Act”, is “the first ballot initiative in history that would criminalize the killing and breeding of animals. We want to protect an animal’s universal right to life, and we believe that the ballot initiative process is an effective, nonviolent, and democratic strategy for social change.”
Among many provisions, IP 3 does the following:
- Criminalizes standard husbandry practices and numerous agriculture and other humane animal activities and practices (including hunting), as well as “reasonable handling and training techniques”, all of which are protected under current law.
- Criminalizes artificial insemination and equates it to sexual assault of an animal.
- Provides a vague exemption for veterinary practices, but it is unclear how this would impact ear cropping and tail docking.
- Removes the word “intentional”, thereby criminalizing even unintentional harm or neglect of any animal including wildlife. While responsible animal ownership and care is always the goal, unfortunate accidents can happen. No one wants to see an animal come to harm or injury, but it is an unfortunate reality that, just as with people, accidents can occur in everyday activities despite taking appropriate precautions. For example, there are incidents where an animal may be harmed in a vehicle or other accident: a service or working dog; a dog participating in a safe, humane event; or even a dog with an exuberant spirit and high energy could, during an activity, receive an injury through no fault of the owner.
This initiative will also have dire consequences on ranchers, farmers, fishermen, 4-H and similar groups, and even pest control.
AKC Government Relations will continue to monitor proposals in Oregon impacting dog owners. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.