At a recent meeting, the Council of the District of Columbia approved final passage of amendments to the District’s Animal Care and Control Act. The legislation now awaits Mayor Muriel Bowser’s signature.
Among other provisions included in B24-0560, is the requirement to pay for the costs of boarding (Bond for Care) animals that are seized in animal cruelty cases. Additionally, the proposal bans the sale of non-rescued animals at a pet store (See previous alert for more information).
As passed, B24-0560 makes numerous changes to the District’s Animal Care and Control Act, including implementation of Bond for Care. While AKC strongly believes that those who treat animals in a cruel manner should be held accountable and punished accordingly. We are concerned that Section 3 of the proposal could force owners to lose animals, even if they are not found guilty of cruelty by requiring animal owners whose animals are impounded based on an accusation to expend potentially significant funds—or else forfeit ownership of their animals—prior to any determination of guilt.
A person unable to post a bond or keep up with payments would lose their animals even if ultimately cleared of all charges. This proposal will have detrimental effects on animal owners whose animals are unjustly seized, who are found not guilty, or against whom charges are dismissed. Ultimately, it disproportionately punishes those with low or fixed incomes who may not be able to keep up with payments during a long trial and appeals.
Prior to final passage, AKC sought amendments to ensure that those found not guilty/have charges dropped will not lose their animals because of missing a payment. In addition, we requested an amendment requiring that animals be held until final adjudication to again ensure that those found not guilty may keep their pets. Unfortunately, the ordinance was passed without amendments.
Additionally, the ordinance adds a new section (700.15) to the Animal Care and Control Act that will allow pet stores to only source pets from shelters and rescues. AKC believes such action removes existing consumer protections and undermines freedom of choice for families who wish to select a pet based on the breed, health, and temperament traits they seek. Additionally, it disproportionately impacts individuals who do not have resources or access to private breeders to obtain a purpose-bred pet.
It should be noted that no pet store currently operating in the District of Columbia sells pets at retail.
Those who would like to express concerns with this proposal may do so by contacting Mayor Bowser:
Mayor Muriel Bowser
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 727-2643
AKC Government Relations will continue to monitor this bill. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.