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Two bills are scheduled for hearings by the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources on January 27, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. If the bills are advanced by the subcommittee, they will be considered by the full Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday,  January 28.

Dog owners with comments or concerns about the bills are urged to contact subcommittee members.  Please scroll down for contact information.

Senate Bill 186 seeks to create new language regarding dog training techniques and devices, and would also delete certain exemptions under current law for hunting dogs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) supports the enactment of protections for the “use of recognized and responsible training techniques and devices” as provided in S 186, and thanks bill sponsor Senator Greg Hembree for including this provision.

However, AKC is concerned that certain language in S 186 could be interpreted to restrict the training and use of dogs for accepted purposes (i.e., herding; flock guarding; vermin control; tracking, trailing, or treeing; field work; hunting; and others) when “an animal” (not necessarily the dog being trained) might be subjected “torment” or pain.  For example, a herding dog might cause pain to a fleeing sheep by nipping it to turn it back to the flock, a livestock guardian dog might attack a predator that threatens livestock, or a hunting dog might trail or retrieve an injured animal.

Additionally, a dog being trained or working outdoors may, during the time it is training or working, “be deprived. . . of shelter,” which could also be considered an offense under the bill.

Accordingly, AKC has requested a friendly amendment to S 186 to address these concerns.

SB 186 also seeks to strike a provision that exempts the owner/handler of a positively identified hunting dog from committing the offense of abandonment. This could be problematic if a hunting dog should become separated from its handler while training or working. AKC recommends an additional clarification to S 186 to ensure that a lost hunting dog would not be considered abandoned unless its owner or handler knowingly and willfully abandoned it.

Senate Bill 378 seeks to increase penalties for a person convicted of willfully or maliciously torturing, mutilating, injuring, disabling, poisoning, or killing police dog or horse; to require the person convicted to pay restitution to the appropriate law enforcement agency to cover the full cost of restoring or replacing the dog or horse; and to authorize requiring a person convicted to perform up to 500 hours of community service.

AKC supports the training and use of dogs by humans, whose lives are enriched by dogs performing essential services. Dogs provide a wide variety of valuable services including handicapped assistance dogs; drug, bomb, and arson detection dogs; and tracking dogs to locate missing persons and fugitives.  AKC agrees that appropriate penalties for persons convicted of injuring or killing a police animal are necessary.

Contact information for subcommittee members:

Senator Brian Adams, 803-212-6056, link to send message
Senator Dwight A. Loftis, 803-212-6100, link to send message
Senator J. Thomas McElveen III, 803-212-6132, link to send message
Senator Scott Talley, 803-212-6048, link to send message
Senator Kent M. Williams, 803-212-6000, link to send message

Click here to send a message to the full Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

For additional information, please contact AKC GR at doglaw@akc.org or call 919-816-3645.

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