House Bill 4094 would require owners of unsterilized “pit bull dogs” and additional breeds to register their dogs with a governmental animal control agency and remit fees of $25. The bill contains additional problematic provisions for all South Carolina dog owners.
H. 4094 is on the agenda of the House Special Laws Subcommittee for Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 9:00 am. Concerned dog owners are urged to immediately contact subcommittee members, state concerns with the bill, and politely ask them to VOTE NO on House Bill 4094. Scroll down for contact information.
Why H. 4094 matters to EVERY dog owner in South Carolina:
The enactment of breed-specific laws opens the door to restrictions and requirements for additional breeds, the establishment of additional requirements for owners, and higher fees. H. 4094 also would grant significant powers to local governmental animal control agencies and their contractors.
The bill states, “A person may request to have the governmental animal control agency determine if his dog is a pit bull dog and therefore subject to the provisions of this article. The agency shall deliver written notice of the determination to an adult residing at the premises where the dog is located or by posting on the premises if no adult is present. The notice shall include the determination of the breed, mandatory sterilization and ownership requirements, and notice of the appeals process” (emphasis added). It is unclear if this subsection would authorize a local animal control agency to impose “mandatory sterilization and ownership requirements” in addition to registration requirements under H. 4094.
The bill would also enter problematic language into state law, including an unsupported statement that “fertile dogs are territorial and therefore more likely to bite.” This unsupported statement is not limited to pit bull dogs.
Local government animal control agencies would be authorized to enforce the law. Violations would be misdemeanor offenses, subject to a fines of up to $1,000. Funds collected for violations would be used by the local animal control agency for the purpose of sterilizing “pit bulls” at reduced cost. This provision, which directs fines collected to the use of the enforcing agency, creates a potential conflict of interest, as it incentivizes the agency to issue citations as a means of generating revenue
Additional Bill Information:
H.4094 would define a “pit bull dog” as an “American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, a dog displaying the physical traits of one or more of the above breeds, or a dog exhibiting the distinguishing characteristics that conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club for any of the above breeds. Distinguishing characteristics include a broad or flat head with high set attentive ears and wide jaw, whip like tail that is thick at the base and tapered at the tip, strong and muscular shoulders with blades wide and sloping, well-muscled hind quarters, and almond shaped eyes.” This broad description applies to numerous dog breeds and mixes, and therefore could make many dogs subject to breed determination as a “pit bull.” Additionally, the bill would make local enforcement officials breed and breed-trait identification experts with no expertise required.
Appeals of breed determination would be conducted by the same agency that makes the breed determination, with no provision for judicial appeal.
Exemptions would be available for dogs under eight weeks of age; dogs that a veterinarian annually states in writing would be endangered by sterilization; dogs kept, owned, or harbored for less than 30 days; dogs for which a breed determination by a governmental animal control agency is under appeal; a hunting dog that is tattooed with a registration number issued by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; or a show dog that has participated in a nationally recognized show in the twelve months prior to application for exemption.
To apply for a show dog exemption, an American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club registration, pedigree information, and documentation of show participation would be submitted to the local governmental animal control agency. It is unclear if the show dog exemption would be applicable for the dog’s lifetime, annually, or otherwise.
Better Solutions Are Available:
The AKC supports reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws to govern the ownership of dogs. AKC believes that dog owners should be responsible for their dogs. AKC supports laws that: establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as “dangerous” based on stated, measurable actions; impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners; and establish a well-defined method for dealing with dogs proven to be dangerous. AKC believes that, if necessary, dogs proven to be “dangerous” may need to be humanely destroyed. AKC strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be “dangerous” based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Immediately contact members of the House Special Laws Subcommittee to state your concerns and politely ask them to VOTE NO on House Bill 4094. Click here to view information, reproducible flyers, and talking points on breed-specific legislation. Please note that H. 4094 is not a breed ban. Instead, it discriminates against owners of “pit bulls” and other breeds by enacting breed-specific requirements and contains other problematic provisions as noted above.
Contact Information – Special Laws Subcommittee
Rep. John R. McCravy, III, Chairman, JohnMcCravy@schouse.gov, (803)212-6939
Rep. Sylleste H. Davis, SyllesteDavis@schouse.gov, (803)212-6930
Rep. Jason Elliott, JasonElliott@schouse.gov, (803)212-6877
Rep. Elizabeth “Spencer” Wetmore, SpencerWetmore@schouse.gov, (803)212-6872
Voice your concerns, either in person or virtually, at the Special Laws Subcommittee hearing on Thursday, April 22 at 9:00 am. The hearing will be held in the Blatt Building, Room 516, 1105 Pendleton Street, Columbia, SC 29201. Click here for the agenda and additional information. If you wish to provide testimony virtually, please email HJudSpecialLaws@schouse.gov by 5:00 pm Wednesday, April 21, 2021, and indicate that you wish to address House Bill 4094.
The agenda and other meeting information are subject to change. Updates can be viewed at https://www.scstatehouse.gov in the right column under “House Meeting Schedule.”
For more information, contact AKC Government Relations at 919-816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.