Newly-elected and reelected lawmakers have been sworn in, and the AKC Government Relations Department (AKC GR) is busy with the 2013 legislative session and more than 850 new dog-related bills. Here’s a quick look back at 2012 as we begin work in 2013.
Legislative Trends in 2012
AKC GR worked closely with state federations as well as dog owners and breeders to monitor more than 1,500 federal, state and local dog-related bills in 2012. The ever-increasing volume of dog-related bills introduced and considered by policymakers is evidence that lawmakers and their constituents continue to have a strong interest in animal legislation.
One of the most prominent issues addressed at the state level in 2012 was animal cruelty. Cruelty bills have to be examined carefully. Many of these measures provide appropriate solutions to legitimate concerns, while others can unreasonably restrict ownership rights or safe and accepted animal husbandry practices. Bills must be monitored throughout the legislative process, as amendments can dramatically change the purpose and outcome of a bill.
In 2012, state legislatures took up a number of bills that sought to regulate dog breeding. AKC GR was pleased to work cooperatively with a variety of state federations, breeders, dog owners, and other concerned organizations to ensure that the rights of responsible breeders were protected.
AKC GR is increasingly seeing attempts to regulate breeders at the local and municipal levels. In fact, “breeding regulations” (which includes kennel regulations, mandatory spay/neuter, dog sales, and similar measures) were the most frequent issues on the local level, comprising more than 40 percent of the measures we have tracked in 2012. This is a significant increase over previous years. In 2011, breeder regulations comprised just 17 percent of the local issues that were addressed.
Breed-specific legislation (BSL), which has been the most prominent issue on the local level for the past several years, continues to comprise approximately 25 percent of measures AKC GR addresses. Proposals increasingly attempt to restrict not only specific breeds, but also target dogs based on physical characteristics, such as weight or appearance. At the state and local levels, we are increasingly seeing attempts to not just restrict certain breeds, but also certain physical characteristics (such as a dog’s weight or appearance). Ownership limits continue to be the third most common local canine legislation issue, comprising approximately 15 percent of measures.
AKC GR is available to assist you with canine legislation on the local level, but we depend on you to let us know about what’s happening in your community. If you hear of an issue of concern in your community, let us know and we will work with you and provide you with the tools and resources you need to protect your rights.
Gearing up in 2013
All 50 states will have legislative sessions in 2013. Most states had legislative elections in 2012, so it is important to remember that there are many new lawmakers to educate on canine legislation.
You can help us prepare! Consider contacting your representatives now to introduce yourself. Congratulate them on their recent election or reelection, let them know that you are a responsible dog owner in their district, and encourage them to not support any legislation that would negatively impact your rights to responsibly own and breed dogs. If you can, offer to serve as an expert resource if they have questions about dog-related issues.
AKC GR has observed an increase in enforcement of state and local animal control laws – including those that were already in effect but had not previously been enforced (including licensing, zoning, and tax laws). Take the time to learn about all state and local laws that may impact you so you can ensure that you are in compliance.
Thank you for partnering with us! Together, we will keep working to protect your rights and ensure that we can continue to own and breed dogs for generations to come!