With elections looming and many states holding shorter sessions, the first half of 2022 was an intense, hurried pace for AKC Government Relations and our clubs and federations.
In the first six months of 2022 AKC GR tracked more than 2,000 dog-related bills on the federal, state, and local levels, many of which were carried over from 2021 sessions. After an emphasis on COVID-related issues for the last two years, the canine legislative landscape in 2022 is returning to a variety of animal welfare issues.
Legislative Trends and Issues
The following are some of the prominent legislative issues AKC GR has been addressing so far in 2022. To view all the bills we are currently tracking, we encourage you to visit our Legislative Action Center at www.akcgr.org and click on the “Legislative Tracking” tab.
Dog Care Standards – As with 2021, AKC GR continues to closely monitor the federal “Puppy Protection Act”, which seeks to create numerous new requirements regarding how breeders care for their animals. Many states have also sought to impose new regulations or standards of care for dogs this year. Examples include Maryland HB 16/SB 44, which sought to regulate the temperatures in which dogs should be outdoors; and New Jersey (A. 2401/S.3607), a proposal that that would have regulated the keeping of large dogs. Many states and local jurisdictions also experienced attempts to regulate tethering.
California went so far as to introduce a “Dog and Cat Bill of Rights” (AB 1881) that stated that animals have the right to certain standards of care.
AKC GR continues to see many “one size fits all” dog laws that do not take into account the needs of individual breeds or individual dogs. Happily, there have been many instances already this year where we, along with state federations and local clubs, have been able to successfully amend or stop onerous bills that would have imposed arbitrary requirements not appropriate for all dogs. For example, the New Jersey bill impacting owners of large dogs was defeated, and approximately 10 bills in New York that sought to impose inappropriate standards for dogs outdoors were held in committee. In Tennessee, 6 bills that would have imposed onerous new requirements on breeders, and created arbitrary and vague tethering laws did not advance.
In each case, the Government Relations team focuses on educating, providing data and positive alternatives for legislative proposals that have potentially negative consequences for dogs and their owners. We also continue to develop new resources for you to share with lawmakers and community leaders. All of these resources are available in the AKC Legislative Action Center. Click on the ”Key Issues” tab to find resources, organized by issue, to help you communicate with lawmakers. This year, AKC GR has added a key issue regarding tethering and dogs outdoors, as we continue to see a significant number of proposals on the state and local levels seeking to address that issue.
Importation – AKC GR is seeing increasing interest among lawmakers to regulate the importation of dogs in order to address public health concerns. AKC GR is pleased to support the federal Healthy Dog Importation Actwhich will help ensure dogs coming into the United States meet certain health standards.
In June, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated rules addressing dogs coming into the United States from certain countries. AKC GR has provided a new graphic to help dog owners understand the new regulations and what is required to import a dog into the country.
Many states have also sought to address concerns about canine importation and transportation. In addition to providing new requirements and standards for the state’s animal shelters, S. 6840/A.6246 pending on the governor’s desk in New York, also establish a quarantine system for dogs coming in from out of the state. AKC GR is supporting this bill, which provides reasonable public health protections while still allowing responsible owners, rescues, and exhibitors to bring dogs into the state.
The Governor of Rhode Island approved SB 2751/HB 7785 in May 2022 that establishes quarantine zones for animals coming into the state that are suspected of carrying zoonotic diseases.
For more talking points on this issue, and the latest information on federal guidelines, visit the Importation key issue page in the Legislative Action Center.
Limits on Pet Choice – AKC continues to see a nationwide effort to prohibit pet stores from selling purpose bred dogs, instead requiring them to source dogs from shelter or rescue organizations. In May, New York passed S. 1130, becoming the fifth state to pass a bill imposing these restrictions (California, Maryland, Maine, and Illinois previously passed statewide bans. A sixth state, Washington, passed a law in 2021 allowing current pet stores to operate, but banned new stores from forming). That bill has not yet been transmitted to the governor.
Similar state-level bills were also introduced in Florida and Massachusetts, but proponents are strongly targeting many local jurisdictions, including multiple cities and counties in Texas, Indiana, and Washington. They claim these measures are a guaranteed way to shut down bad breeders, but the fact is it simply drives people to the Internet where scams are rampant. In addition, the bills limit the opportunity for local residents to find the right dog for their family, and remove consumer protections for those buying dogs at pet shops.
In addition, there can be concerns with the definition of “pet store”. In Renton, Washington, for example, portions of the proposal expanded to anyone who sold dogs, not just brick and mortar pet stores.
We expect to see more similar proposals in cities across the county in the second half of this year. For talking points and more information on this issue, visit the “Pet Choice” key issue page in the Legislative Action Center.
Regulations on Kennel Licensing/Kennel Definitions — Many states and municipalities have introduced proposals to amend the definition of “kennel” and change their licensing procedures. Bills pending in Pennsylvania, for example, increase license fees (HB 526 / SB 232) and amend requirements for licensing and regulation of kennels – including rescues (SB 1289). In addition, SB 907 creates a task force to review all dog laws in the Commonwealth.
Senate Bill 585 in Massachusetts would have significantly expanded the definition of kennel to encompass any residential property where more than one dog is bred. This measure was defeated.
Kansas SB 551 sought to create a new Pet Animals Facilities Inspection Division, which would oversee hobby and commercial breeders, shelters, and many other facilities. This proposal was tabled.
Fauquier County, Virginia, is one of several county/local jurisdictions this year that have sought to reexamine and amend their kennel licensing and zoning laws. In the case of Fauquier County, AKC GR and local clubs successfully worked with the county to develop a reasonable solution.
We expect more local governments to consider kennel and licensing laws this summer and fall, and encourage local clubs and Legislative Liaisons to closely monitor their community news and government websites for hearings and proposals that would impact local breeders and kennels.
Above were listed just a few of the dozens of successes achieved in the first six months of 2022. Others include the defeat or amendment of bills that would establish animal advocates (“lawyers for dogs”) programs and allow for non-economic damages to compensate for emotional trauma in the loss or injury of a pet.
There were also a number of successes to protect those in the sporting dog and performance community, including a tremendous victory in New Hampshire where a bill was defeated that would have ended field trials in the state.
We encourage you to read our blog highlighting our 2022 successes to date, and check out our full list of 2022 Legislative Successes to see the many ways AKC GR worked with federations and dog clubs to make a positive impact for dogs across the country.
AKC thanks the many club members, breeders, and federations who have worked with us in the first six months of 2022 to make such a significant, positive impact for dogs and our sport – but there are many fights still ahead! Six states are still in session, and counties and cities all across the United States are still meeting. Each week we continue to learn about new proposals regarding dog ownership and breeding.
We encourage you to sign up for our monthly Taking Command newsletter for the latest information and resources available to help you advocate, and to check our Legislative Action Center at www.akcgr.org for the most up to date Legislative Alerts and information on proposals around the country.
Please also contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org when you hear of an issue so we can partner with you to continue to fight on behalf of our dogs as the year continues to progress.