Legislation that would severely restrict the ability to raise high quality purebred dogs in a home environment is advancing rapidly in several states:
In Ohio, new legislation was introduced this week that defines a breeding dog as any dog that is not spayed or neutered, and creates a new state Kennel Authority with the power to write and enforce regulations without legislative oversight.
In California, the 13th reincarnation of last years failed bill to mandate spaying and neutering of all dogs faces a hearing before the Senate Local Government Committee on April 15. This bill would force the sterilization of any dog that is accused of being in violation of any animal law, even if the allegation is not proven. A second bill, AB 1122, has many dog owners very concerned about its impact on raising or competing with dogs.
In Indiana, legislation that defines many serious hobbyists as puppy mills has passed both the House and Senate, faces a conference committee to resolve differences, and may be sent to the governor soon. Similar legislation is moving quickly in Washington and Oklahoma. While dog owners working with the American Sporting Dog Alliance have caused amendments to improve all three bills, the results still fall short of protecting our rights.
Texas breeding legislation continues to be contained in committee, but animal rights groups are lobbying hard and a major push by dog owners is needed to make sure it stays in committee.
And Tennessee legislation aimed at people who raise dogs is moving fast in both houses of the Legislature, and a hearing on similar legislation in Delaware was postponed after dog owners working with the American Sporting Dog Alliance filed strong objections.
Each of these states will be profiled separately below. They are part of a 34-state legislative push by the radical Humane Society of the United States that has resulted in more than 179 pieces of animal rights legislation targeting dog owners nationwide. Information about this legislation compiled by the Cat Fanciers Association also is profiled below.
Animal rights groups failed to pass legislation last year that would have destroyed the breeding of high quality purebred dogs in Ohio. As expected, they are back again this year with Senate Bill 95. The prime sponsors, Sen. Gary Cates and Sen. Jim Hughes, also were the sponsors of last years failed animal rights legislation.
Here is a link to the text of SB 95:http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=128_SB_95 . Please read its 42 pages of anti-dog-owner bureaucracy. It is straight from the drawing board of HSUS. The legislation has been introduced, but still has not been assigned to a committee, according to the Senate website. Last year, the sponsors managed to keep the legislation out of the Agriculture Committee, which understands the threats of extremist animal rights activism.
We are asking Ohio dog owners to do two things to help stop this destructive legislation. First, contact the Senate leadership and ask them to assign SB 95 to the Agriculture Committee, which is the only appropriate place. No other committee works regularly with animal issues.
Second, please contact your own senator and ask him or her to oppose SB 95 from the outset, and to use her/his influence with Senate leadership to direct this bill to the Agriculture Committee. Here is a list of each senator:http://www.senate.state.oh.us/senators/by_name.html . Click on a name to get contact information.
Here are some key provisions of SB 95:
A breeding dog is defined as a dog of any age that is not sterilized. It includes both males and females, and even newborn puppies. A regulated breeding kennel is defined as a kennel that produces either nine litters of puppies a year, or at least 40 puppies a year. This definition entraps many serious hobbyists, as 40 puppies could translate into only four or five litters a year in some breeds, and may also entrap private animal rescue networks that dont breed any dogs.
A kennel control authority is created that will write and administer kennel regulations, with no provision for legislative control or oversight, and no accountability to the citizens. These rules will include inspections, background investigations of applicants, rules governing animal rescue organizations, and many other requirements.
Applicants for a kennel or rescue license will be required to have insurance and also to post bonds ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. Both the insurance and bonds will be payable to the state, in the event of a license revocation, in order to pay for the cost of caring for seized dogs.
Anyone who sells a dog or a puppy will be required to obtain a vendors license (some county treasurers already are requiring this in violation of the law, the American Sporting Dog Alliance reported earlier this year).
Kennel housing requirements will eliminate raising puppies inside a home or in a family environment, for all license holders. Fenced yards for dogs living in a home environment would not meet exercise area requirements, and the bill says that half of the lawn would have to be paved in concrete to comply. For dogs that live in indoor or indoor/outdoor facilities, minimum pen sizes are required that may create dangerous conditions in cold weather. Most dogs will have to have continuous access to clean and unfrozen water, which is an impossibility for dogs kept outdoors in the winter.
Tail docking, dewclaw removal and ear cropping can be done only by a licensed veterinarian. For hundreds of years, these routine procedures have been done by people who raise puppies, and few if any problems have been reported.
Veterinary care is required for any disease, illness or injury, even if the problem is only minor and easily treated by the animals owner. As with parents of human children, most people who own kennels are skilled and equipped to handle routine situations. The bill also requires veterinary approval before any female dog can be bred, and all euthanasia must be done by a veterinarian, even if this causes a dog to experience prolonged suffering.
No dog can be sold at any public place. This definition would include dog shows, field trials or competitive events, or events sponsored by rescue groups in public places.
Dogs can be seized and impounded for any violation of the law, including minor or technical violations. Dogs can be seized when the owner is not present, and an owner is entitled only to an administrative hearing before the agency that seized the dogs. There is an appeal only to the environmental division of the Franklin County Court. Civil penalties cannot be appealed, and range from $25 to $15,000 for each dog and each day of violation.
And an advisory board is created that is heavily stacked in favor of animal rights groups. Only one representative of an AKC breed club is included, and there is no other representation for other dog owners.
SB 250 is scheduled for an April 15 public hearing before the Senate Local Government Committee. We are urging all California dog owners to contact members of the committee to express opposition to this legislation, submit formal testimony to the committee and, if possible, attend the hearing and offer oral testimony.
This legislation introduces the term custodian to weaken the concept of ownership, and treads the dangerous ground of taking a step toward turning animal ownership into animal guardianship. This would make animals wards of the state, and provide the same legal protection to animals that the law now provides for foster children.
"Custodian" is defined as any person who undertakes the personal care and control of a dog or cat, or any person who intentionally provides care, security, or sustenance for a dog or cat on the person's property for any period exceeding 30 days. This definition ensnares professional trainers and handlers, animal rescue groups, and people who provide food for feral cats.
SB 250 also creates a wholly unreasonable standard of mandating sterilization for any dog that has been impounded, even on a first offense. This would cause the forced sterilization of hunting and field trial dogs that get lost or out of touch with their handler even briefly, dogs that escape confinement through no fault of their owners (or for a simple accidental occurrence, such as bolting through a door that is opened by a visitor), or for animals that are deliberately stolen or turned loose by animal rights fanatics who advocate using this tactic to destroy a hobby breeding kennel. There is no appeal.
All dogs over the medically unsafe age of six months must be sterilized under the legislation, unless an intact permit is obtained. An intact permit can be revoked or denied if the dogs owner has been cited for any violation of any animal control law or ordinance. Please note that the legislation requires only a citation, not a conviction. Thus, even if a dog owner is found not guilty in court, an intact permit could be denied.
A dog owner is given only a reasonable opportunity to respond to a denial or revocation, but is not entitled to a hearing in a court of law or an appeal.
The hearing on SB 250 is set for the Senate Local Government Committee on April 15 at 9:30 a.m., in Room 112 of the State Capitol in Sacramento.
Please contact committee members as soon as possible to voice opposition to SB 250. They are:
1. Senator Dean Florez (Author), State Capitol, Room 313, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone:(916) 651-4016; Fax: (916) 327-5989
2. Senate Local Government Committee Consultant Peter Detwiler, State Capitol Room 5046, Sacramento, CA 95814; Fax: 916-322-0298 to enter testimony into the record.
3. Senator Patricia Wiggins (Chair), State Capitol, Room 4081, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone: (916) 651-4002; Fax (916) 323-6958
4. Senator Dave Cox (Vice Chair), State Capitol, Room 2068, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone: (916) 651-4001; Fax: (916) 324-2680
5. Senator Sam Aanestad, State Capitol, Room 3063, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone: (916) 651-4004; Fax: (916) 445-7750
6. Senator Christine Kehoe, State Capitol, Room 5050, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone: (916) 651-4039; Fax: (916) 327-2188
7. Senator Lois Wolk, State Capitol, Room 4032, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone: (916) 651-4005; Fax: (916) 323-2304
The second bill, AB 1122, appears innocuous at first glance, in that it bans sales of dogs or puppies at flea markets or along streets and roads. However, dog owners are concerned that the language is designed to entrap dog shows and other competitive events under references to the states Business and Professional Code.
Because there are vendors at an AKC dog show and many other canine events, these events would fall under the legal definition of a swap meet. Dog owners who compete or exhibit would be entrapped by this definition if they attend three or more events a year.
Combined with SB 250, this provision would be grounds to revoke an intact permit for all of a competitors dogs.
It also appears to the American Sporting Dog Alliance that this legislation would prohibit someone from posting a kennel sign along a road on their property, or posting a sign in their yard advertising puppies, dogs, or stud services for sale. It also appears to prohibit kennel information from being placed on motor vehicles or trailers while traveling.
The term offering for sale could include posting notices on grocery store billboards, and even walking an intact dog on a leash in a park could be construed as displaying the dog. All participation at canine events also could be seen as displaying the dog in order to promote the sale of dogs or services from the owners kennels.
A further provision calls for misdemeanor penalties for the owner of any dog that is displayed that also is placed in a situation in which its life or health may be endangered. This would appear to include hunting with a dog (accidents are possible), competing in field trials, agility tests, or herding meets, and working with a dog on a farm or ranch.
An April 28 hearing on AB 1122 has been set before the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. Here is contact information for members of this committee:
Mary Hayashi - Chair
Bill Emmerson - Vice Chair
House Bill 95, which regulates raising dogs in Delaware, had been scheduled for a House committee hearing this week. However, the hearing was postponed after many dog owners objected to the legislation. It is not know if or when another hearing may be scheduled.
The official legislative summary of the bill leaves no doubts about its radical animal rights origins: This bill adopts the recommendations of the Humane Society of the United States regarding restrictions on the large-scale for-profit dog breeding operations commonly known as puppy mills.
The bill defines a breeding dog as any unsterilized dog over the age of six months that is being raised for the purpose of being sold, or for the purpose of breeding it and selling its offspring. No definition is given about how that purpose would be defined, and the American Sporting Dog Alliance also strongly objects to dog owners be required to state a purpose for owning any dog. For example, the same dog may be a family pet, a hunting companion, a field trial competitor, and a dog that will be bred someday.
Using that definition, HB 95 prohibits anyone from possessing, caring for or controlling more than 25 breeding dogs. This requirement ensnares every professional trainer and handler, hunt club, hound pack owner and private rescue network in Delaware, and also many serious hobby breeders of high quality purebred dogs.
The bill also requires veterinarians to examine and certify any dog (male or female) used for breeding, and to be used to treat any illness, condition or injury, even if it is a minor problem such as having fleas or worms. Only veterinarians could dock a tail, crop ears or euthanize a dog under this bill.
More bad legislation targeting people who raise dogs is before the Tennessee Legislature, in the form of identical twin legislation, HB 386 and SB 258. Hearings were held yesterday.
Dog owners who opposed the bill received a courteous hearing before the Senate Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee, which heard testimony but did not vote.
However, the reception received by dog owners was hostile at a hearing held before the House Subcommittee on Civil Practice and Procedure, which voted to approve the legislation and send it to the full House Judiciary Committee for a hearing. A hearing of the full Judiciary Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, April 15.
This legislation defines anyone who possesses or maintains more than 20 intact female dogs of any age as a commercial breeder, if the dogs are used as breeding animals; this is very ambiguous, as a dog may be in a kennel for many reasons, including breeding only once in its lifetime. This definition unfairly ensnares many private kennel owners, serious hobbyists, private rescue groups, boarding kennels and professional trainers and handlers.
No one would be permitted to possess or control more than 75 intact animals over the age of six months, even if they receive extraordinary care.
The bill also allows searches and seizures without warrants, provides high fines and multiple tiers of violations for even minor or technical offenses, and assess license fees of $500 (for 20 dogs) to $1,000 a year.
Indiana dog owners have won many concessions on what started out to be very dangerous anti-breeder legislation, but still have to contend with language that defines a commercial kennel as the mere possession of 20 or more intact female dogs.
The bill passed the house while still in dangerous form, but was amended in the Senate to reflect the concerns of dog owners. The amended bill passed the Senate, and has been sent back to the House to concur. If the House concurs, it will be sent to the governor to be signed into law.
When it was introduced, HB 1468 would have entrapped virtually every serious dog fancier, rescue organization, and professional handler and trainer under the puppy mill classification.
However, dog owners worked hard and were able to win several concessions in the Senate. The amendments exempts hobby breeders (defined as someone who possesses fewer than 20 intact females over a year old), people who breed hunting dogs for sport, people who breed police or military dogs, and some rescue groups from the licensure requirement.
We endorse these changes, but cannot endorse the 20-dog cut-off. The mere possession of 20 intact females does not indicate that they will be bred or that the person who owns them is a commercial breeder. Many serious fanciers exceed this number if elderly and retired dogs are counted, along with young dogs that are being evaluated and dogs in their competitive prime that arent being bred. Many professional trainers and handlers also would exceed the 20-dog limit at certain times.
We continue to maintain that there is no need for this legislation, as existing state and federal laws have proven that they can fully address any problem kennels that are found. There is no evidence that any problem kennels have fallen between the cracks.
We also object to any legislation that ensnares law-abiding dog owners if needless but stifling bureaucracy.
Several very positive changes were made to HB 1332 in the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the legislation now has been sent to the full Senate for a vote.
While we applaud these changes, we continue to view this legislation as a foot in the door by animal rights advocates, and also the creation of unnecessary laws that will impact people who obey the law but do nothing to solve problems. Existing state and federal laws already do a good job, if they are enforced.
HB 1332 has been tainted with the animal rights agenda since the beginning, in spite of denials by the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association, which is the main impetus for the legislation. The original bill that was introduced in the House was straight out of the HSUS playbook, as was a failed attempt at this legislation a year ago.
Subsequent versions softened the original legislation, but dog owners, farmers, ranchers and sportsmen quite simply have lost their trust for the people behind this legislation. We also know that there is no need for state kennel legislation, as commercial kennels already are federally regulated and are also covered by tough state animal cruelty laws.
The amended legislation sets up an advisory committee with well-balanced membership, and yet fails to give that committee any teeth to do more than make recommendations about future regulations, policies and procedures.
Anyone who sells, transfers or gives away 35 or more dogs would be required to get a license. However, this definition also would entrap many rescue groups and networks.
The legislation also would give complete control of kennel standards and procedures to veterinarians, thus removing important decision-making powers from the owners of the dogs. This is not a matter of poorly run kennels, but simply about individual decisions by animal owners about how to raise, house and care for their dogs. A veterinarians opinion thus becomes arbitrary and invasive.
In addition, the legislation opens any dog owner to inspections by the state, even if they do not own a kennel that is required to be licensed, denies the right of appeal, and allows for confiscation of dogs if a license is denied or revoked for merely technical reasons, including paperwork deficiencies.
SB 5651 started out an overly restrictive exercise in bureaucracy that was aimed at people who raise dogs as a hobby, in spite of its stated purpose as a puppy mill bill. The original bill was truly insulting to dog owners, echoing radical HSUS ideology in every word.
Several improvements were made before the bill passed the Senate by a 35-11 vote, but the results still were unfair to the best kennels in the state. It must be emphasized that, when challenged by the American Sporting Dog Alliance, supporters of this legislation were unable to name a single example of a situation where existing laws failed to shut down a poorly run kennel, rescue the dogs and successfully prosecute the offender. Not one!
But the supporters of SB 5651 continued to press for more bureaucratic control over people who raise dogs, even in the absence of any rational justification. The measure was sent to the House, where it was passed by the Committee on Judiciary.
However, dog owners continued to inform the legislators of the many major problems with this bill, and the Rules Committee ultimately listened to many of our concerns and made more improvements to the bill. The result passed the full House by a 74-23 vote, and has been sent back to the Senate for concurrence.
In spite of the improvements, we must continue to oppose this bill because it is completely redundant and unnecessary, is clearly directed at hobby breeders of purebred dogs (federally licensed commercial kennels were removed from the bill in the latest amendments), and establishes state control over anyone who maintains 10 or more intact dogs of either gender. This ensnares virtually all serious hobby breeders, as well as professional trainers and handlers who do not breed.
Again, it must be emphasized that there is no reason for this bureaucracy, as not a single example can be produced to show that existing laws are inadequate.
Thus, we are asking all Washington dog owners to contact their legislators and ask them to vigorously oppose concurring with the Senate version, and to send this legislation to the trash can where it belongs.
The Texas House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee held a hearing recently on legislation that would place crippling restrictions on people who raise dogs. The committee did not vote on the legislation at the hearing.
Thus, the American Sporting Dog Alliance is urging all Texas dog owners to submit comments in opposition to this bill to each member of the committee.
In addition, please ask each committee member and the committee Chairman, Rep. Kino Flores, and Vice Chairman, Rep. Mike Hamilton, to allow the bill to die in committee. Comments should be submitted by mail, fax or phone, with email as a somewhat less effective alternative.
At the hearting, about 20 people testified in opposition to the bill, and perhaps a half-dozen supported it. The Responsible Pet Owners Association of Texas played a major role, and three American Sporting Dog Alliance members were among those who testified in opposition.
Anyone who owns or possesses 11 or more intact female dogs is considered to be a commercial breeder, subject to intense and crippling regulation. Most serious hobbyists fall into this category. Most professional trainers and handlers would be ensnared in this provision as well. No one could possess more than 50 intact adult dogs.
A hobby breeder is defined as someone who owns or possesses 10 or fewer intact female dogs. Most serious hobbyists would exceed this number if retired dogs, elderly dogs, dogs in competition, young dogs for evaluation and dogs for breeding are counted.
A troubling definition says that a dealer is anyone who is required by law to collect sales tax for the sale of a dog or puppy. In some municipalities, zoning ordinances say that sales tax is required on any sale of a dog.
A criminal background check is required of everyone who applies for a license as a commercial or hobby breeder.
The Department of Licensing and Regulation will inspect kennels and administer the law. This will entail annual inspections. A veterinarian or animal control officer could be called in to assist in the inspection, with the kennel owner paying for the cost. Regulation will not be with the Department of Agriculture or any other agency familiar with animal husbandry.
A seven-member advisory board will be created to oversee the law and develop regulations. People who raise dogs will not have representation on this committee.
Commercial kennels (including serious hobbyists) would have to shut down until bureaucracy runs its course, an inspection is held and a license is issued. No time limits are set for the state to act.
Intensive regulation on the care of dogs in commercial kennels would be established. These standards essentially would prohibit serious hobby breeders from raising puppies inside their home, and would require a sterile institutional environment. Paperwork also would be extensive.
Puppies could not be sold until they are 12 weeks old, and provisions for disclosures and a lemon law are included. Regulations would require kennels to employ a staff deemed to be sufficient, and formal training would be required.
Stiff fines and civil penalties are imposed for even minor violations, and the penalties could be cumulative, counting each dog and each day as a separate offense.
The CFA Report
The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) has done a great job in assembling a resource document of pending legislation this year.
The states are listed alphabetically in the report. To read the legislation in your state and learn about its status, search online (Google) your states legislature and find the bill search page. Type in the number of the bill and follow the links.
Some states are facing major assaults on dog ownership on many different fronts.
New Jersey leads the pack, with 23 separate bills, followed by 18 in Illinois, 15 in Massachusetts, 14 in New York, 13 in Hawaii, nine in Tennessee, eight in Connecticut, seven in Texas, and six in New Hampshire and Florida.
Other states with more than one bill are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
Wyoming, Washington, Vermont, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kentucky, Kansas, Delaware and Colorado face one bill apiece.
The most common kinds of legislation are about people who breed dogs, people who sell puppies, mandatory pet sterilization, puppy lemon laws, restrictions on selling dogs, and limits on the number of pets a person can own.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, breeders and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. We also welcome people who work with other breeds, as legislative issues affect all of us. We are a grassroots movement working to protect the rights of dog owners, and to assure that the traditional relationships between dogs and humans maintains its rightful place in American society and life. The American Sporting Dog Alliance also needs your help so that we can continue to work to protect the rights of dog owners. Your membership, participation and support are truly essential to the success of our mission. We are funded solely by your donations in order to maintain strict independence.