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Legislative Updates: BSL Success and Concerns, Plus Dog Owners’ Insurance

A look at the AKC’s Legislative Alerts page shows that now that the year is solidly begun, there are more legislative concerns than we’ve seen for the past several months, but also successes in the fight against breed-specific legislation in several locations.

While in Michigan in late January, Senator Michael Rush filed a proposal to allow cities and towns to enact breed-specific legislation, in Maryland officials are considering overturning a 2012 ruling that said “all ‘pit bulls’ are inherently dangerous,” and in New Mexico House Bill 63, which would prohibit BSL, went to the Health, Government and Indian Affairs Committee on January 31.

On January 23, a senator in Oklahoma who proposed a new state law allowing for BSL abandoned that proposal, according to Fox23.com. News accounts do not record the reason for the senator’s change of mind, and a call to his office was not returned.

Under legislation regarding animal seizures in at least two states, Wyoming and Pennsylvania, ordinances are being considered that could potentially force owners to relinquish their pets if accused of animal cruelty, even if they are later found guilty or the charges against them are dismissed. While AKC and responsible pet owners of course believe that no animal should be neglected or treated cruelly, this type of legislation could potentially violate a person’s due process rights and, according to AKC, “a responsible pet owner’s property rights.” Residents of affected states are encouraged to contact their legislators to express their concerns regarding these possible changes to the law.

AKC also reports that a public hearing was held on February 1 on Hawaii House Bill 233, which would mandate licensing for “commercial dog breeders.” AKC is concerned about the bill because it potentially limits the number of dogs a person can “own, maintain or have custody or control of,” and includes unannounced inspections, among other factors. AKC encourages residents to attend public hearings, communicate with the Hawaii state legislature via its online form and contact committee members to express their concerns.

Dog Owners’ Insurance and Non-Breed-Specific Legislation

In Maryland Senate Bill 296 was read for the first time on January 23. The bill’s purpose is to prevent insurers from refusing policies to homeowners or renters solely because the person owns a dog, regardless of the breed. The proposed law also seeks to prevent denial of certain types of liability coverage for homeowners or renters and addresses other “coverage for dog owners under policies of homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.”

Insurance companies began considering dog ownership, and in particular the breeds of dogs owned, when writing homeowner and renter’s policies in the late 1980s, according to a 2011 article on www.foxbusiness.com. Regulations of “breed-specific underwriting” varies from state to state, but currently dog owners in some locations may find themselves paying higher rates, having the family dog excluded from liability coverage or being turned down altogether for insurance based on the breed of dog they own. The Maryland bill has been assigned to the finance committee, and BISD will keep readers posted on its progress.

In the January session of the Connecticut General Assembly, Bill 5975 was brought forward. If passed, the bill would authorize towns and cities to adopt dangerous dog ordinances that are not breed specific. The American Kennel Club supports addressing the issue of dangerous dogs in non-breed-specific terms, so this is a step in the right direction for responsible dog owners.

Best In Show Daily provides a biweekly look at dog-related legislation that is being considered, is pending and has passed around the country. The American Kennel Club also maintains an ongoing list of Legislative Alerts of which it has determined fanciers should be aware. If you learn of proposed legislation that you feel we should report on, please feel free to contact me at Christi@bestinshowdaily.com.

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.
  • Lynn Muramaru February 3, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Thank you Christi & BIS Daily for mentioning Hawaii in your legislative alert! HB 233 was “deferred” thanks to the number of testimony submitted (4 to 1) and the sensibility of the Hawaii House of Representatives. The Hawaii State Senate Judiaciary remains our biggest obstacle as Sen. Clayton Hee is a big supporter of the HSUS.

    See our Sunday paper: http://www.staradvertiser.com/newspremium/20130203__Puppy_mill_bill_would_impose_harsher_terms.html?id=189553971

    Even this reporter was bias as stakeholders were present and testified but she failed to mention us in this article!

    I would like to direct your attention to SB 414 as it is the identical bill to HB 233. Sen. Hee passed out of his committee and it is expected to cross over to the House on March 7.

    We are also looking at SB 8 & HB 140 that propose to make dew claw removal, tail docking, ear cropping (to include but limited to!) a class C Felony unless done by a veterinarian.

    Thank you for your support!
    Hawaii Companion Animal Coalition

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