The Utah House Labor and Business Committee is scheduled to consider an amended version of the bill to regulate breeders at a hearing tomorrow, February 16.
While some provisions such as breeder permits are expected to be removed, other concerns remain that would impact those who breed and raise dogs in their homes.
Hobbyists and breeders in Utah are strongly encouraged to contact the committee TODAY and let them know concerns still remain with House Bill 359. Scroll down for contact information.
Ask the committee to:
- Not let the bill advance until issues are addressed, and
- Suggest that such proposals should be discussed in the interim with all stakeholders to ensure a fair, comprehensive, enforceable and effective policy.
As introduced, House Bill 359 sought to require permits and possible inspections for all breeders. After significant concerns were raised in the committee hearing, the measure was held back.
AKC understands that a new draft will be offered in a hearing tomorrow that removes the permit requirements and instead provides unclear mandates regarding the care of the animals and a restriction on the breeding of dogs. We also understand that the amendments would establish complaint-driven enforcement that is based on whether the Department has the resources to address concerns.
AKC agrees that all who own dogs should be held accountable for their care, and we appreciate these significant amendments. However, there are some concerns, including:
Broad Definition of “Dog Breeder” will still impact hobbyists – AKC understands that the revised definition of dog breeder will include anyone who breeds more than one litter in a calendar year. This is due to an unfortunate perception that anyone who breeds more than one litter is highly likely to be irresponsible and possibly inhumane.
This would still impact many who breed and raise dogs in their homes and subject them to further regulation any time this code is brought forward in the future, and anytime there are department regulations. AKC appreciates that there is a clarification that “breeding facility” does not include a private residence. However, with this definition of dog breeder, it would still impact those breeding in their home. Also, it states that there may only be one dog breeder per residence. While AKC understands the goal, this needs to be clarified to not impact spouses or family that co-breed dogs together.
Limits on Litters – The amendments are expected to limit breeding to one litter per female per year. Studies have demonstrated that for some females it is actually healthy to breed her in back-to-back cycles. AKC instead recommends that a dog be examined by a veterinarian to determine she is healthy enough for breeding.
Unclear Recordkeeping Requirements – All who breed more than one litter would be required to keep records “documenting the behavioral issues, health and medical care for all animals in their possession.” These are not defined, so it is unclear what needs to be recorded. For example, is the term “behavioral issues” referring to aggressive dogs, or does it also refer to a dog that barks a lot or is difficult to housebreak?
- When other states have attempted to regulate a large number of hobby/small-scale breeders, it has proven expensive and difficult to enforce. Instead, it would be reasonable to create a regulated class based on the number of dogs produced and sold. Even with the amendments, the broad definition of “dog breeder” could subject home-based hobbyists to significant future regulation.
- Utah Code allows for localities to develop their own breeder regulations. The sponsor has expressed concerns that this allows irresponsible breeders to simply move to another location. However, allowing localities to develop their own laws ensures they address specific issues in a way that is best for that community.
- Cruelty laws in Utah already ensure that all dog owners provide necessary food, water, care, and shelter as well as “other essential care”.
- This is a comprehensive issue and needs input from all stakeholders. We appreciate the committee held the bill last week for further discussion. However, questions still remain. This bill should be held until stakeholder concerns are addressed. The best course of action would be working on this bill in the interim to fully vet all concerns and ensure a reasonable and effective law.
What You Can Do:
- Attend the committee hearing tomorrow and express your concerns and questions with House Bill 359:
House Business and Labor Standing Committee
Thursday, February 16, 2023
Room 445, State Capitol Building
- Call and/or email committee members and express your concerns and questions with House Bill 359. If you are a constituent, be sure to mention that when contacting the members:
A. Cory Maloy, Chair (Utah County)
Rep. Stephen Whyte, Vice Chair (Utah County)
Rep. Carl Albrecht (Emery, Grand, Sanpete, Sevier Counties)
Rep. Brady Brammer (Utah County)
Rep. Walt Brooks (Washington County)
Rep. Jefferson Burton (Utah County)
Rep. James Dunnigan (Salt Lake County)
Rep. Jon Hawkins (Utah County)
Rep. Brian King (Salt Lake, Summit Counties)
Rep. Ashlee Matthews (Salt Lake County)
Rep. Calvin Musselman (Weber County)
Rep. Thomas Peterson (Box Elder, Cache Counties)
Rep. Mike Schultz (Davis, Weber Counties)
Rep. Norman Thurston, Sponsor of HB 359 (Utah County)
Rep. Ryan Wilcox
AKC Government Relations will provide more information as it is available. For questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.