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Legislative Updates: End of Year Finds Positive, Negative Developments

The last month of 2012 found numerous locations around the country considering legislation that will potentially have a negative impact on responsible pet ownership. But on December 3 in Chesterfield, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, the city council approved an amendment to remove breed specific language from its “dangerous animals” ordinance.

The previous law labeled “any bull terrier breed or mixed breed containing bull terrier” as dangerous, according to newsmagazinenetwork.com. By a vote of seven to three, council members voted to remove that language from the ordinance, allow all purebred and mixed breeds of dogs into the city’s dog park and to judge whether specific dogs are dangerous on a case-by-case basis. Mayor Bruce Geiger had previously opposed this type of amendment to the existing law and reportedly remains against it, but even without his signature the new ordinance became effective on December 13, 2012.

Just 150 miles southeast of Chesterfield, in Sikeston, Mo., breed specific laws remain on the books, and on December 11 the American Kennel Club urged the mayor and city council to repeal those ordinances and “instead focus on general dangerous dog laws that would hold all owners responsible for the behavior of their pets, regardless of the breed they choose to own.”

Also on December 11, in Macon, Ga., members of a city council committee decided not to institute a mandatory spay/neuter law proposed by two council members. In a report on local TV station WMAZ, council member Henry Gibson expressed concern about the police department’s ability to enforce such a statute. Macon Kennel Club president Gordon Turner also weighed in on the issue, noting that, “There are already laws on the books that would take care of this problem.” He suggested that instead of passing more laws the city might invest in low- and no-cost spaying and neutering programs. According to WMAZ, unless a new proposal is made, the issue is now closed for the city.

In Ohio, Senate Bill 130 was signed into law on December 12. The new law requires that anyone who breeds nine litters of puppies and sells 60 dogs in a calendar year must be licensed by the state.

AKC, the Ohio Valley Dog Owners Association and AKC clubs in the state worked with legislators to develop a law that, according to AKC, is “in the best interest of dogs and responsible breeders,” but that will help assure a standard of care for animals in high-volume breeding facilities. Under the new law, rescue operations in Ohio must also register with the state.

In New Mexico, changes to Santa Fe County’s animal control ordinance are expected to be examined by county commissioners this month. Under consideration will be major increases in kennel permit fees and fees to keep intact animals (from $50 to $200 and $10 to $100, respectively); mandatory spay/neuter for any animal impounded by the Animal Services Department, for any reason; and new “dangerous dog” definitions.

AKC considers these proposed changes potentially problematic and will continue to monitor the situation. Residents of Santa Fe County are encouraged to contact county commissioners and ask them “not to support laws that unfairly punish responsible owners of intact dogs.”

Fanciers who want to educate themselves or be prepared to discuss why specific types of dog legislation may or may not be effective can find “talking points” on the AKC website. “Why Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws Are Ineffective”, “Why Breed-specific Legislation Doesn’t Work” and “The Value of Responsible Dog Breeders” are just three documents in the AKC Government Relations Toolbox, which also includes materials for public outreach and canine legislation awareness as well as briefs, brochures and handouts that will aid in educating fanciers, the public and legislators about the topic.

Best In Show Daily provides a biweekly look at dog-related legislation that is pending and has passed around the country. 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.