The 2021-2022 South Carolina legislative session and special sessions concluded with victories for dogs and dog owners. The American Kennel Club Government Relations team (AKC GR) thanks club members, sportsmen, dog owners, allied organizations, and every individual who contacted their state lawmakers about legislation that affects dogs.
Highlights from the two-year legislative session:
House Bill 4094 contained problematic findings about “pit bull” dogs and sought to restrict ownership of and require registration with an animal control agency of “fertile” pit bulls. These requirements would have applied to “American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers,” dogs displaying the physical traits of one or more of the breeds, or a dog exhibiting the distinguishing characteristics that conform to the standards established by the AKC for any of the breeds. AKC GR strongly opposed this legislation, issued an alert, and sent a letter of concern to subcommittee members. The bill did not advance during the two-year session.
House Bill 3067 sought to require that any second violation of the state law’s Chapter on Cruelty to Animals would have required forfeiture of ownership of all animals and a prohibition from owning an animal for five years. AKC GR opposed this bill because it contained excessive penalties and mandatory restrictions for certain offenses that do not involve the care and keeping of animals, and for violations of certain provisions that do not involve harm to an animal. The bill failed sine die.
Senate Bill 186 sought to create new language regarding dog training techniques and devices, and to delete certain exemptions under current law for hunting dogs. AKC requested a clarifying amendment to protect the training and use of dogs for herding; flock guarding; vermin control; tracking, trailing, or treeing; field work; and hunting. The bill did not advance during the two-year session.
Senate Bill 556 sought to make changes to laws that govern trapping. As introduced, this bill could have increased hazards for dogs whose owners participate in field trials, Coonhound events, hunting, and training for these sports, as well as hiking, wilderness camping, and other outdoor activities with dogs. Read AKC GR’s alert on S 556 as it was originally introduced. AKC GR recommended amendments to safeguard dogs, and the bill was favorably amended in committee. It passed in the Senate, but died in House committee.
Legislation to support going forward:
AKC GR continues to support enactment of legislation similar to Senate Bill 378. This bill would have increased penalties for teasing or injuring police dogs and horses, and provided that a person convicted shall pay restitution for costs of restoring or replacing a police animal and complete 500 hours of community service. SB 378 passed in the Senate, but did not advance in House committee. AKC encourages bill sponsors to reintroduce this legislation.
Get prepared for 2023!
Problematic bills could be refiled for the 2023 session. Take time now to meet with your state senator and representative in their home districts. Let them know that you, your AKC club, and the AKC Government Relations Department are reliable and knowledgeable resources on dog issues.
2022 is an election year. Encourage fellow dog owners to register to vote. Get to know candidates for office, learn about their positions on animal issues, and support dog-friendly candidates for seats in the state legislature.
By working together, we can support good legislation like SB 378 and oppose problematic bills, thereby protecting our rights to own, exhibit, breed, and enjoy the dogs we love.
For additional information, please contact AKC Government Relations at email@example.com.