The first six months of 2022 were incredibly busy for Government Relations, with over 2,000 bills being tracked in 46 states (four states did not meet in 2022). AKC GR was pleased to partner with breeders, clubs and federations, and together we saw dozens of victories on behalf of dogs throughout the United States.
The bills we have tracked so far this year have addressed a broad range of issues impacting dogs and dog owners. This includes the following successes:
Animal Advocates (“lawyers for dogs”) – As with 2021, we continue to see bills establishing programs to provide animals their own advocates in cruelty cases. These bills create a myriad of concerns for animal welfare. Review AKC’s one page handout for more information on this topic and why they are a dangerous trend.
So far in 2022, AKC GR and local advocates have been successful in defeating these bills in Florida (SB 172/HB 227), Illinois (SB 153), New Jersey (S.2868/A.4533), and Rhode Island (S. 2227 and H. 7678).
Breeder Regulations – Each year, AKC GR sees many bills that seek to regulate breeders and kennels. AKC GR worked with a number of federations and local advocates to educate lawmakers about responsible breeders and successfully amend or defeat problematic bills. This includes Tennessee, where local breeders overwhelmed the legislators with calls and emails about House Bill 547/Senate Bill 511, and Massachusetts SB 585 and HB 305, which would have negatively impacted hobby kennels. These bills were ultimately held in committee.
Kansas sought to establish a new Pet Animals Facilities Inspection Division to further regulate breeders, including hobbyists, but the proposal was tabled after concerns were expressed by local breeders. In Connecticut, SB 234, which would have established many new problematic requirements on breeders and kennels, was held. Instead, the state passed HB 5295, which establishes a working group to study the issue, and AKC has been invited to participate.
On the local level, Fauquier County, Virginia, worked with AKC GR staff and local clubs to develop a reasonable compromise on zoning permits that would have punished local hobbyists.
Tethering/Dogs Outdoors – AKC GR continues to see a significant number of bills addressing the issues of tethering and/or keeping dogs outdoors. Many of these bills sought to impose specific, one-size-fits- all temperatures and other arbitrary guidelines for dogs outdoors. This includes Massachusetts SB 1099, which was successfully defeated, and Maryland HB 16 and SB 44, which AKC got successfully amended to exempt hunting, training, sporting, sledding, and several other activities.
New York introduced approximately 10 separate bills restricting dogs outdoors and imposing and tethering requirements that could have actually had negative impacts on dogs and humane events. None of these bills advanced. Other states that sought to regulate tethering included Oklahoma (HB 2993), Florida (Senate Bill 1508/House Bill 1075), Massachusetts (S. 1099), Tennessee (House Bill 2034/Senate Bill 2305 and House Bill 2860/Senate Bill 2243), and New Jersey (Senate Bill 4058 and Assembly Bill 6099). All of these bills were successfully defeated or amended to ensure protection of dogs and humane forms of tethering.
Because of the significant number of bills on this issue, AKC GR developed a new key issue page in our Legislative Action Center to provide talking points and more information on AKC’s position. Visit www.akcgr.org and click on “Key Issues” to find this page.
Performance Events/Sporting Dogs – In addition to the tethering and dogs outdoors measures, several additional bills were successfully amended or defeated to protect those in the sporting dog and performance community, including a tremendous victory in New Hampshire where HB 1308 would have ended beagle training and field trials in the state. In addition, New Hampshire SB 1310 would have essentially prohibited using dogs when hunting with guns. Rhode Island S. 2651, which ultimately failed at the end of the session, could have negatively impacted beagle field trials.
In Oregon, a dangerous ballot measure that, among many other provisions, would have criminalized all hunting was tabled. However, supporters are already working to get it on the ballot in 2024.
We encourage you to check out our full list of 2022 Legislative Successes to see the many ways AKC GR has worked with federations and dog clubs to make a positive impact for dogs across the country this year.