Two weeks ago in my Legislative Updates, I wrote about North Carolina House Bill 956, designed to “regulate the ownership of aggressive dog breeds.” I failed, however, to tell readers about NC House Bill 930, which, according to AKC, “establishes an arbitrary definition of ‘large commercial dog breeder’ that would include individuals who own 10 or more female dogs regardless of whether they are actually breeding or selling dogs.” The bill does include many of AKC’s care and conditions standards, but applies them only to “large commercial breeders.”

AKC objects to this bill because its definition of “large commercial breeder” is arbitrary, and standards of care are applied to only this type of facility.

Unfortunately we received word on May 9 from Steve Wallis of the North Carolina Federation of Dog Clubs, that HB 930 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 100 to 15. Although “hunters, sporting dogs and show breeders” are reportedly exempt, the bill, which will now go to the Senate for consideration, is still worrisome. This was discussed at last month’s Raleigh Kennel Club meeting and our members contacted their representatives, and I’m certain the many other clubs in North Carolina did the same. The bill is not expected to pass through the Senate as easily as it did the House, but citizens must contact their representatives to express opposition.

On May 2, 2013, AKC encouraged citizens to contact the office of the governor of Vermont and ask him to sign into law HB 50, which passed the House in April and the Senate on May 2. AKC reports that passage of this legislation “marks the culmination of a multi-year effort by the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs and other groups at making needed improvements to Vermont’s animal laws.”

The bill changes the definition of “pet dealer” to any person who sells, exchanges or offers to sell or exchange animals from three or more litters in a 12-month period.” AKC approves of changing the basis of licensing from the number of dogs owned to the number of litters sold. Pet dealers will have to be licensed, and their premises will be subject to inspection. The bill also includes updated consumer protection provisions.

On May 9 in New York, Senate Bill 1495, regarding criminalizing theft of pets, passed the Senate Codes Committee, and will now be considered by the full Senate. Current New York law says that theft of certain types of property is grand larceny in the fourth degree. SB 1495 expands current law to include “the theft of a pet within the crime of grand larceny…in certain instances” and defines a pet as “a licensed dog or cat harbored by the owner or lawful custodian of such dog or cat in a dwelling or within an enclosure or yard.” Although it doesn’t address theft of a pet when away from the owner’s property, AKC calls the legislation “an excellent step” for punishing those who steal pets from a person’s home or property. New York residents are encouraged to contact lawmakers and ask them to pass SB 1495.

In Connecticut, Raised Bill 6690 is under consideration. If passed this bill will “create legal representation for animals,” also called “animal advocates.” Currently in the state, pets are considered the legal property of their owners, and owners have a legal “right and responsibility to care for their animals in a manner that is best for the animal.” Under the proposed law, pet owners could be forced to share decision-making regarding their pets with courts and third parties.

According to AKC, “providing third-party advocates in a legal dispute is usually reserved to protect the interests of other people” who lack the capacity to make legal decisions on their own. Under this bill, pet advocates would be similar to court-appointed advocates for children, and their use could severely limit the rights of dog owners. AKC is concerned with unintended consequences that may result from the legislation, and Connecticut residents are encouraged to contact members of the Joint Environment Committee, listed here,  to express opposition. A customizable sample letter is also provided.

In an interesting development in the state of Pennsylvania, a bill passed the Senate on April 10 that will exempt dogs or cats from getting a rabies vaccination “if it could be detrimental to the health of the animal,” according to the Times Leader.

Previously pets were required to have a rabies vaccination after 3 months of age, with boosters every three years thereafter. Under the new bill, if a licensed veterinarian determines that “it would be medically contraindicated to vaccinate,” an exemption may be granted for one year.

In BSL news, on April 12 the Chippewa Herald reported that the city of Chippewa Falls, Wis., will not enact a ban on pit bulls or on any dog based on its type or breed. The paper reported that “city leaders agreed…that a ban on any single dog breed would not be a positive solution to the city’s dog problems.”

Best In Show Daily reports biweekly on legislative actions around the country that will or may impact dog ownership. The American Kennel Club government relations office also maintains a list of Legislative Alerts on its website, where fanciers can stay up-to-date on current issues in dog-related legislation around the United States and find contact information when legislation is pending in their area.