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Legislative Updates: Changes to Laws in New York and California, and More

As reported by the ASPCA on June 25, 2013, the New York State Legislature has passed a bill that “gives local governments better tools to regulate puppy mills and pet stores.” Assembly Bill 740 and Senate Bill 3753 are now awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

According to AKC, breeders who “raise fewer than 25 dogs per year on their residential premises are exempt” from the potential new laws. However, they will allow local lawmakers to enact regulations or legislation governing “pet dealers,” currently defined as those who sell nine or more dogs per year. AKC reports that local municipalities would be allowed to pass laws addressing whether spaying or neutering should be required prior to sale by pet dealers, as well as “the health and safety of animals maintained by pet dealers.” AKC expresses concern that this could allow for “strict, burdensome, unnecessary” laws for those meeting the definition of pet dealer.

The ASPCA position is that current New York state pet dealer laws “do not adequately protect dogs” in the state’s numerous commercial breeding operations. Further, ASPCA contends that New York “appears to be the only state in the U.S. that expressly prohibits local town and county governments” from regulating pet dealers.

Also in the state of New York, Assembly Bill 3952 passed the Assembly and has moved to the Senate Insurance Committee. This bill would prohibit insurance companies from canceling insurance, raising insurance rates and denying coverage to homeowners based on the breed of dog owned by the insured. New York dog owners and breeders are encouraged to contact the Senate Insurance Committee to ask members to support 3952. Contact information for these committee members can be found here.

On June 26 the Monroe County, N.Y., legislator Willie Lightfoot introduced legislation that would create a registry for people convicted of “serious animal abuse,” and would prohibit such individuals from owning another pet for 10 years. In a video statement on the Irondequoit Post, Lightfoot said that in some parts of Rochester dog fighting remains a significant issue, and in rural areas people are often arrested for hoarding or other types of animal cruelty. The proposed legislation would prohibit anyone who is convicted of animal cruelty a second time from ever owning an animal again. Irondequoit, a northern suburb of Rochester, is situated on the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

In 2008 the city of Los Angeles passed a mandatory spay-neuter law that requires all dogs and cats to be altered except those that qualify for an exemption, including dogs that have earned a title or are being trained for an agility, carting, herding, hunting, working or other title. In June the Los Angeles City Council began consideration of changes to that ordinance that would remove those exemptions. The changes, according to AKC, would also “require anyone who holds a breeding permit to submit to an inspection by the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services,” and would require breeders to microchip each dog they sell “to maintain the breeder’s identity as well as that of the new owners.” Further, the owner of any animal impounded for a second time would, without exception, be required to spay or neuter that animal, even if the owner is in possession of an intact animal permit or a breeding permit.

The modifications were reportedly considered at the June 18 City Council meeting, although no formal action was taken. AKC objects to the removal of exemptions because “no proof has been provided that these exemptions are being abused in any way, nor that the requested exemptions lack legitimacy.” The AKC Government Relations department has outlined objections to the remaining changes here. Residents are encouraged to study the proposed changes and contact their local officials to express their opinions in this regard.

In Pennsylvania on July 1, the state Senate passed and the House concurred on House Bill 82, which AKC objects to because it could “force owners to relinquish their animals when they are charged with animal cruelty, even if the charges are frivolous and/or are ultimately dismissed.” AKC has acknowledged that some positive amendments have recently been made, but strongly objects to the seizure portion of this legislation. The bill now goes to the governor, and Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to contact him to ask him to veto HB 82. Sample letters, emails and phone scripts are available here.

Legislation that includes breed-specific restrictions, as well as ownership and breeding limits, is under consideration in Westwego, La., a suburb of New Orleans. As written, the proposal would limit citizens from owning more than three dogs that are 4 months of age or older. It includes a vague requirement that only one litter be kept on a premises, without clarifying whether this means at one time, in a one-year period or in a different time frame. Further, it calls for the establishment of a “pit bull permit,” bans ownership of certain types of dogs labeled “pit bull” without a permit, requires permitted “pit bulls” to be spayed or neutered, and would require show-giving clubs to get written permission from the city manager to allow “pit bulls” to be shown at the event. Both American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers are included in the definition of “pit bull.”

Residents and local dog clubs are strongly urged to attend the City Council meeting scheduled for tomorrow, July 8, 2013, at 6 p.m. at council chambers at 419 Avenue A. Residents and club representatives are also encouraged to contact City Council members to express opposition to breed-specific restrictions, as well as ownership and breeding limits. Contact information for city officials can be found here.

In Oregon on July 1, Senate Bill 6 passed by a vote of 18 to 12. This bill will increase punishment for animal neglect to a maximum five-year imprisonment and a $125,000 fine, or both, for repeat animal neglect offenders or offenses involving 10 or more animals. The law would also increase the penalty for first offenses to a maximum one-year imprisonment and/or a $6,250 fine. SB 6, introduced in the Senate in February, will now move to the House.

In late June the ASPCA thanked Nevada lawmakers for “making the state safer for animals” by passing numerous animal-friendly bills during its 2013 legislative session. Assembly Bill 110 prohibits breed discrimination, while Bill 246 bans the sale of live animals at swap meets. Senate Bill 83 increases penalties for engaging in or watching animal fighting, and SB 73 makes the names of persons reporting animal abuse confidential. Other new legislation passed offers protection for other companion animals, horses, black bears and wildlife. All nine of the animal welfare bills passed were signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Best In Show Daily provides a biweekly look at legislation being enacted or pending around the United States that is of interest to dog owners. If you have information about legislation that is not reported here, please leave a comment below, or contact me at Christi@bestinshowdaily.com. We appreciate your input. The American Kennel Club also maintains a list of Legislative Alerts.

Written by

Christi McDonald is a second-generation dog person, raised with a kennel full of Cairn Terriers. After more than a decade as a professional handler’s apprentice and handling professionally on her own, primarily Poodles and Cairns, she landed a fortuitous position in advertising sales with the monthly all-breed magazine ShowSight. This led to an 11-year run at Dogs in Review, where she wore several hats, including advertising sales rep, ad sales manager and, finally, editor for five years. Christi is proud to be part of the editorial team for the cutting-edge Best In Show Daily. She lives in Apex, N.C., with two homebred black Toy Poodles, the last of her Foxfire line, and a Norwich Terrier.