On December 20, the Council of the District of Columbia are expected to consider final passage of amendments to the District’s Animal Care and Control Act.
Among other provisions, B24-0560 addresses the issue of animals that are seized and the costs of their care during impoundment (Bond for Care). Additionally, this proposal contains language that bans the sale of non-rescued animals at a pet store.
Residents are encouraged to reach out to the council to express concerns (Scroll down for meeting and contact information).
Proposal B24-0560 makes numerous changes to the District’s Animal Care and Control Act, including the following:
Bond for Care:
This proposal would require someone to pay for the costs of boarding their animals if they are accused of cruelty. AKC strongly believes that those who treat animals in a cruel manner should be held accountable and punished accordingly. However, 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. As currently written, this section does not allow a person to be innocent until proven guilty. It also disproportionately punishes those with low or fixed incomes who may not be able to keep up with payments during a long trial and appeals.
The AKC strongly supports the humane treatment of dogs and believes that no dog should be kept in cruel circumstances. We agree that those convicted of animal cruelty or animal fighting should be held accountable, including paying for the costs of caring for the animals they mistreated. However, 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.
AKC is asking for amendments to ensure that those found not guilty/have charges dropped will not lose their animals because of missing a payment. In addition, we are asking that animals be held until final adjudication to again ensure that those found not guilty may keep their pets.
Banning the Sale of Non-Rescued Animals at Pet Stores
As proposed, new Section 700.15 would allow pet stores to only source pets from shelters and rescues. While this idea is touted as a way to prevent substandard breeders and promote the humane care of animals, it does nothing to substantively address welfare issues. Instead, it 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. This provision also 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.
For more information on the impacts of retail sales bans on consumer choice, please click here.
What You Can Do:
Those who would like to express concerns with this proposal are encouraged to contact the members of the Council prior to the December 20 meeting. Ask them to include language to ensure that those found not guilty can have their animals returned to them.
Click here for details on the meeting, which begins at noon.
Council members contact information:
Trayon White, Sr., Ward 8
AKC Government Relations will continue to closely monitor this bill. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.