The Council of the District of Columbia’s Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety will conduct a public hearing on Monday, February 28, 2022, at 1:30 pm, regarding proposed amendments to the 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 limits consumer choice and consumer protection when choosing a pet.
Proposal B24-0560 makes numerous changes to the District’s Animal Care and Control Act, including the following:
Bond for Care:
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 disproportionately punishes those with low or fixed incomes who may not post the required bond to pay the charges throughout an ongoing trial process or payoff any lien placed against the animal should charges be dropped or found not guilty.
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. As such, we recommend language which would authorize the court to order a defendant convicted of cruelty to pay for the care, housing, and other costs associated with animals that were confiscated. For more talking points on bond for care, please click here. You may also view our new, brief animated video outlining the many concerns with this policy.
Limits on Consumer Choice
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 less-advantaged individuals who do not have resources or access to private breeders to obtain a purpose-bred pet.
When people cannot obtain a pet that is the right fit for their lifestyle, that pet is more likely to end up in a shelter. In addition, it is important to note that while such bans are inaccurately being promoted as a way to put an end to “puppy mills” that supply pet shops, fewer than 4 percent of pets purchased in the US come from pet shops. Putting local, regulated businesses in D.C. out of business will do little to address any issues associated with substandard breeders.
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 Committee Judiciary and Public Safety prior to the February 28 hearing and communicate the impact this proposal could have on pet owners in the District of Columbia.
To sign up to provide oral testimony send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to sign up is close of business on February 23, 2022. Additional information about the hearing and how to provide oral or written testimony to the Committee can be found here.
To have your written testimony made part of the official record, submit it to the Committee at email@example.com. The deadline for submission is the end of the business day on Monday, March 14.
AKC Government Relations will continue to closely monitor this bill. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.