California —Assembly Bill 265 would clarify that a local government that owns and operates a dog park with signage indicating that residents use the park at their own risk would be immune from civil liability for any dog bite or dog-related injury suffered in the park. As with all parks, local governments are responsible for injuries arising from maintenance and safety issues. The bill is eligible to be assigned to committee on March 10th.
California — Assembly Bill 272 would require that all dogs three months or older be vaccinated for rabies. Current law requires vaccination at four months of age. The bill is eligible to be assigned to committee on March 10th.
California — Assembly Bill 339 would add swap meets (defined as flea markets or open-air markets) to the list of locations where live animals may not be sold. The bill is eligible to be assigned to committee on March 16th.
Connecticut — Proposed House Bill 6311 would prohibit towns from “addressing the issue of dangerous dogs in a breed-specific manner.” The Joint Committee on Planning and Development held a public hearing on this issue on February 20. AKC GR and our Connecticut Federation will continue to closely monitor this issue and will provide more information once a formal draft is introduced.
Hawaii — Senate Bill 8 / House Bill 140 would make it a felony for any person other than a veterinarian to perform a surgical procedure, including ear cropping or tail docking, on a pet animal. The Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection passed SB8 with an amendment that would also outlaw the removal of dewclaws by a person other than a veterinarian. SB8 will be considered by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor on February 25. The House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce deferred a hearing on HB140. AKC GR sent informational alerts and continues to monitor these measures.
Hawaii — Senate Bill 414 SD1 would require the licensing of persons who own ten or more intact dogs over the age of 4 months. This bill would also prohibit ownership or custody of more than 30 intact dogs over the age of 1 year, establish extensive enclosure standards, prohibit the breeding a dog older than 8 years, and require unannounced inspections of a breeder’s private premises. SB414 would allow counties to contract with any “dog protective agency” for the seizure and impounding of dogs belonging to breeders who are not in compliance with rules and dogs belonging to unlicensed breeders. SB414 has passed the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor and will be heard by the Senate Committees on Commerce and Consumer Protection/Ways and Means on February 27. AKC GR has issued legislative alerts on this matter.
Kansas — Senate Bill 57 as introduced makes several changes to the Kansas Pet Animal Act. AKC has several concerns with the bill, including significant license fee increases and mandatory inspections of all licensees – including hobby breeders. The bill is pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee. One public hearing has already been held, and another hearing is scheduled for February 25. AKC will continue to closely monitor this legislation.
Maryland — House Bill 78 / Senate Bill 160 and House Bill 618 seek to overturn the Tracey v. Solesky ruling in April 2012 that declared all “pit bulls” as inherently dangerous and held landlords liable for “pit bulls” owned by tenants. HB 78/SB 160 and HB 618 would overturn this ruling and make the liability for landlords the same as it was before the ruling. These bills also create strict liability for all dog owners – regardless of breed. HB 78/SB 160 would create the rebuttable presumption that the owner knew or should have known the dog had dangerous propensities. HB 618 only applies to dogs causing personal injury or death while running at large. AKC GR supports these measures that overturn this court ruling and hold dog owners accountable for their pet’s behavior. All bills have had public hearings. The Senate Judicial Proceedings is expected to vote on SB 160 shortly. HB 78 has passed the House with amendments and is pending in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. AKC GR is currently reviewing these amendments. Read more about HB 78/SB 160. Read more about House Bill 618.
Maryland — House Bill 178 seeks to change the dangerous dog laws and establish more requirements for those who own a dog that has been declared “dangerous”. Current law defines a “potentially dangerous dog” as one that bites a person, kills or inflicts severe injury on a domestic animal (when the dog is off the owner’s property), or attacks without provocation. If a dog commits these actions a second time, then it will be declared dangerous and the owner will be subject to numerous new requirements, including obtaining over $300,000 of liability insurance and a dangerous dog registration certificate that states the dog has been sterilized. AKC GR is requesting that the “potentially dangerous dog” designation be removed if the dog does not exhibit the behavior again for an extended period of time. We have also requested that a mechanism be provided to allow owners to appeal the dog’s designation. This bill died in committee. Read more about this legislation.
Maryland — Senate Bill 296 would prohibit insurance companies from refusing to issue or renew homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies solely because the person owns a dog. The bill also states that dog owners cannot be denied liability coverage because they keep a dog on their property. The breed of dog may also not be considered. AKC GR and its Maryland federation both support this measure, which has had a public hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. Read more about this legislation.
Massachusetts — SB 969 would allow cities and towns to enact breed-specific dangerous dog legislation. The AKC and the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (MassFed) both strongly oppose the bill. The AKC has issued a legislative alert on the matter, and continues to work with MassFed in opposition to the proposal.
Massachusetts — Several bills of interest to dog owners and breeders have been recently introduced in Massachusetts. AKC GR is analyzing these bills, and along with the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners will address these measures to ensure that responsible dog breeders and owners will not be unreasonably or unnecessarily impacted. Legislative alerts will be posted here as additional information is available.
Massachusetts — SD 1247 would allow cities and towns to enact breed-specific dangerous dog legislation. The AKC and the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (MassFed) both strongly oppose the bill. The AKC has issued a legislative alert on the matter, and continues to work with MassFed in opposition to the proposal.
Minnesota — HF 84 / SF 36 seek to imposing licensing, care and conditions standards, inspections, and reporting requirements for “commercial breeders,” defined as those who possess or have an ownership interest in animals and are engaged in the business of breeding animals for sale or for exchange in return for consideration, and who possess ten or more adult intact animals and whose animals produce more than five total litters of puppies per year. Those not meeting the numerical thresholds of the commercial breeder definition would be considered a “hobby breeder”. HF 84 has passed one policy committee with amendments, and is scheduled for another policy committee hearing on February 21. No action has been taken on SF 36. AKC GR has issued legislative alerts, letters of concern to lawmakers, and is working with Minnesota dog owners to address this proposal.
Montana — House Bill 439 would define any person or entity that possesses 11 or more intact female dogs for the purpose of breeding as a “commercial dog breeder” and would require registration, inspections, and fees for “commercial dog breeding” facilities. An initial inspection and inspections every two years would be required. Fees would range from $200 to $650 per year based on the number of intact female dogs maintained. Voluntary registration of facilities with fewer than 11 intact female dogs would also be available for a fee of $125 per year. The Department of Livestock would adopt rules governing inspection, recordkeeping, registration, licensing, and standards of care. HB439 will be heard by the House Agriculture Committee. AKC GR sent a legislative alert and a letter of concern to committee members.
Nebraska — Legislative Bill 288 makes a positive change to the state’s definition of commercial breeder as requested by AKC GR. Currently the law defines a commercial breeder as anyone who sells/offers to sell, exchanges, or transfers 31 dogs in a year; owns four or more dogs “intended for breeding” (which is presumed to be intact dogs); or whose dogs produce four litters in a year. A person would only have to meet one of these criteria to be required to be licensed and comply with commercial breeder requirements. LB 288 would change this to require someone to meet all three of these criteria before being defined as a commercial breeder. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Agriculture Committee on March 5.
Nevada — Assembly Bill 71 would revise provisions relating to dangerous dogs and specifically prohibit dogs being determined to be dangerous solely based on their breed. The measure has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee but has not been set for a hearing.
Nevada — Assembly Bill 110 would revise provisions relating to dangerous dogs and will specifically prohibit dogs being determined to be dangerous solely based on their breed. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
New Hampshire — House Bill 497 would have made significant changes to the state’s animal cruelty statutes, including defining “negligence” as when “a person acts inattentively or carelessly when he or she fails to become aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that exists or will result for the animal from his or her conduct.” The AKC found that the changed definition was unnecessary and that current law already provides a complete system for the reporting and enforcement of negligent treatment of animals. AKC GR and its New Hampshire federation opposed this bill. The bill was voted “inexpedient to legislate” on February 12. Read more about this legislation.
New Jersey — New Jersey Senate Bill 1804 and Assembly Bill 3445 would permit pet owners to board public transportation with domesticated animals during emergency evacuations. The AKC applauds the New Jersey legislature’s efforts to protect the Garden State’s dogs—and owners who might otherwise not evacuate a dangerous area—by providing the means by which responsible owners and their pets can escape areas where the catastrophic impacts of storms are expected. Senate Bill 1804 has passed the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. Assembly Bill 3445 has been assigned to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Read more about these bills.
New Jersey — Senate Bill 1840 / Assembly Bill 2746 are being described as consumer protection bills but instead would restrictively regulate breeders across the state, including licensing, inspections, onerous breeding and sales restrictions, and care and conditions rules. Both bills have been assigned to committee, but neither has been scheduled for consideration. AKC GR continues to work closely with the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs and other allied groups in opposition to the bills as currently written.
New Mexico — House Bill 63 would prohibit counties and municipalities from using breed-specific language when regulating dangerous dogs. An amendment was added to exempt home rule municipalities, but AKC GR still believes this bill is an excellent first step towards preventing BSL in New Mexico. The bill as amended passed the House and is pending in the Senate Public Affairs Committee. AKC GR has contacted New Mexico clubs and breeders and encouraged them to contact committee members in support of HB 63.
New Mexico — House Bill 258 makes several changes to New Mexico’s dangerous dog laws, including establishing strict liability for dog owners if their dog bites someone on public or private property (including the owner’s property). The past behavior of the dog, or the owner’s lack of knowledge of the dog’s “viciousness” cannot be considered a defense. Thanks to the numerous phone calls and letters sent to the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee and the bill’s sponsor, the bill has been withdrawn. AKC GR thanks the sponsor for his willingness to listen to the concerns of responsible dog owners in New Mexico.
New York — Assembly Bill 740 clarifies that counties and municipalities can regulate “pet dealers”, so long as the laws are not less stringent than state law. “Pet dealer” is defined in current law as those who sell 9 or more dogs/year. Breeders who raise dogs on their residential premises are exempt, so long as they sell less than 25 dogs/year. AKC GR has expressed concerns with this bill, which has passed the Assembly Agriculture Committee and is pending in Assembly Codes. Read more about A. 740.
New York — Assembly Bill 1204/Senate Bill 2271 would ban the practice of “devocalization” in the state. The only exemptions are for instances when it is medically necessary to treat or relieve a physical illness or congenital abnormality that is causing pain or harm. Any veterinarian that performs the procedure could have their license revoked. A. 1204 has passed the Assembly Agriculture Committee and is pending in the Codes Committee. Read more about A. 1204.
New York — Assembly Bill 1643 and Senate Bill 1495 would create the crime of pet theft in New York. A. 1643 states that when someone steals a companion animal or pet, it is pet theft in the second degree (a class E felony). When someone commits pet theft and then sells the animal for research or unjustifiably kills or causes it serious injury, the crime would be a class D felony. Senate Bill 1495 includes pet in the definition of property in the state’s penal law. This means that someone who steals a pet would be committing fourth degree grand larceny. AKC GR and its New York federation supported similar measures in the 2012 legislative session. Both bills have been referred to their respective Codes Committees.
New York — Senate Bill 2568 would prohibit homeowner’s insurance companies from cancelling, refusing to issue/renew policies, or adjusting rates based on specific breeds of dogs kept on the property. This would not apply if the dog is declared dangerous based on the definition and procedures already in state statute. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Insurance.
North Carolina — AKC GR expects a breeder regulations bill to once again be introduced this session. It is likely that this bill will be virtually identical to those introduced in previous sessions, which would impose unreasonable and potentially harmful regulations on responsible owners of intact dogs. AKC GR is encouraging North Carolina residents to contact their State Representative and State Senator and ask that they not support breeder regulations in the 2013 session.
Ohio — Senate Bill 130 regulates "high volume" dog breeders in Ohio, defined as those who produce 9 litters of puppies and sell 60 puppies in a calendar year. Those who meet this definition are required to obtain an annual license and inspection. The inspections may be conducted by local veterinarians. Standards of care will be established by the state Department of Agriculture and reviewed by an advisory board. The law was signed by the governor in December, and goes into effect on March 13. AKC GR and its Ohio federation continue to closely monitor the regulatory process and will provide more information as it becomes available.
Pennsylvania — House Bill 82 addresses payment and care for animals seized when the owner is accused of cruelty. If the owner fails to pay the amount required by the court at any time during the proceedings, then ownership rights would be permanently forfeited – even if the owner is eventually found not guilty or charges are dismissed. Costs would be limited to $15 per day, per animal as well as “reasonable medical expenses”, which must be documented by a veterinarian. AKC GR still believes that this could be very cost-prohibitive for some owners. The bill has passed the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. AKC GR is working with its Pennsylvania federation and local club members to address concerns with this bill. Read more about House Bill 82 and how to contact the General Assembly.
Pennsylvania — Senate Bill 82 would make positive changes to the commonwealth’s consumer protection laws. Among other changes, it clarifies that a dog cannot be declared “unfit for purchase” if the dog has intestinal or external parasites (unless the dog is clinically ill or dies), if the dog has an injury or illness likely contracted after the sale, or if the dog has a health problem that is disclosed in writing by the seller prior to the sale. The bill also would make reasonable changes to the timeframe for when a dog may be declared unfit for purchase and when the seller must be notified. The Pennsylvania federation may offer an amendment to state that the consumer protection laws must also apply to dogs purchased from shelters. AKC GR and its Pennsylvania federation are supporting this measure, which had unanimous support in the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. Read more about this legislation.
Rhode Island — H 5287 /S 178 would regulate all “pit bulls” in the state, defined as dogs that substantially conform to the American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or American pit bull terrier standards. The bill also contains several legislative findings, including stating that breeders have “selected and maximized” certain negative traits in the dogs. H5287 has been assigned to the House Committee on Judiciary and S178 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture.
Rhode Island — Three bills, H 5095, H 5117, and S 66 have been introduced in Rhode Island to repeal the statutory authority which allowed the Rhode Island Department of Revenue to asses a 7% pet care services tax on pet care services. This tax negatively impacts pet owners as well as businesses such boarding kennels, groomers, pet sitters and doggy day cares, as they are forced to compete with businesses in nearby states that do not charge sales tax. All bills have been referred to the Finance Committees in their respective houses.
Texas — HB 1449 seeks to provide licensing and oversight to “pet dealers,” defined as “a person who sells or offers to sell, at retail to the public for use as pets, not fewer than 21 animals in a calendar year.”
Provisions of the bill include inspection of dealer facilities, requirements to make disclosures at the time of sale of an animal, and standards of care. AKC-GR will continue to work with AKC’s Texas federation to address concerns with this measure.
Vermont — HB 50, which relates to the sale, transfer, or importation of pets, is the product of a collaborative effort of several organizations, including AKC’s Vermont federation, and would establish a higher numerical threshold for an individual to qualify as a “pet dealer” under state law, provide clarification for when inspections of pet dealer facilities may be conducted, and update the state’s consumer protection laws. AKC GR continues to assist the Vermont Federation’s promotion of this bill.
Washington — House Bill 1202 / Senate Bill 5204 would create a civil infraction for “failure to provide care” in cases where behavior does not amount to animal cruelty in the first or second degree. These bills also would remove economic distress as a defense to second degree animal cruelty. House Bill 1202 remains in the House Rules Committee. Senate Bill 5204 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Law and Justice; however, a hearing has not been scheduled.
Washington — House Bill 1786 would establish an animal abuser registry. The measure has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee but has not been set for a hearing.
Wyoming — Senate File 137 would allow peace officers to “lawfully interfere to prevent the perpetration of any act of cruelty upon any animal” in their presence. It further allows peace officers to take any animal found abandoned, neglected or cruelly treated. Expenses for the care of the animal could be collected from the owner, and the local government would have a lien and keep the animal until the expenses for food, shelter, and care were paid. The bill failed in the House Committee of the Whole. Read more about this victory for Wyoming dog owners.