Numerous States Considering Prohibiting BSL

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The AKC Government Relations Department is pleased that several legislatures are looking to protect dogs and dog owners by joining the growing list of states that prohibit breed-specific laws.

Those who reside or participate in dog events in these states are encouraged to contact the state legislature and ask them to support these measures. For talking points, visit the AKC Government Relations Toolbox and BSL Issue Analysis, Why Breed-Specific Legislation Doesn't Work.

State bills currently pending include:
Georgia - House Bill 409, which was carried over from the 2013 session, would among other provisions prohibit counties, municipalities and local authorities from banning the sale or ownership of any specific breed of dog.

Maryland - House Bill 422 states that a dog may not be declared potentially dangerous based solely on the dog’s "breed, type or heritage" and prohibits counties and municipalities from enacting laws prohibiting ownership of specific breeds. It also states that a homeowner or tenant may not be prohibited from owning a specific breed of dog, or be evicted or denied occupancy because of the breed of dog they own. The bill does not prohibit landlords from restricting ownership of all dogs or of dogs declared dangerous under Maryland law. This bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on February 20.

Missouri - House Bill 1116 would prohibit municipalities from enacting breed-specific laws. It is currently pending in the House General Laws Committee.

South Dakota - Senate Bill 75 would prohibit local governments from enacting, maintaining, or enforcing regulations on certain dog breeds. AKC GR issued a legislative alert and wrote the Senate Local Government Committee urging support of the SB 75. The bill passed the Senate on Tuesday, February 4, and is expected to be assigned to a House committee soon.

Utah - House Bill 97 would prohibit municipalities from adopting or enforcing any breed-specific rule, policy or ordinance. It also declares any current breed-specific rules and policies void. The bill was introduced on February 4 and is awaiting committee assignment.

Vermont - House Bill 775 would prohibit municipalities from banning certain breeds of dogs. The bill was introduced on January 31 and is pending in the House Government Operations Committee.

Washington - House Bill 2117 would amend the state's dangerous dog law and prohibit local governments from banning possession of a particular breed or declaring a specific breed of dog to be dangerous or potentially dangerous. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

Click here for more info:

Rhode Island House Committee Considering Rollback of Breed-Neutral Dog Laws

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Rhode Island House Municipal Government Committee will consider House Bill 7198 at its meeting on Thursday, February 6, 2014. If passed as currently written, the bill would roll back some of the state's protections against local breed-specific legislation that were enacted in 2013. House Bill 7198 would allow Rhode Island cities and towns to mandate spay/neuter requirements on specific breeds of dogs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly opposes both breed-specific and mandatory spay/neuter laws, and believes House Bill 7198 represents a step backward for Rhode Island. AKC urges all concerned Rhode Island residents to express opposition to HB 7198.

AKC's Position on Breed Specific Legislation: The American Kennel Club strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be "dangerous" based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs. Instead, we support reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws to govern the ownership of dogs. We support laws that: establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as "dangerous" based on stated, measurable actions; impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners; and establish a well-defined method for dealing with dogs proven to be dangerous.

AKC's Position on Mandatory Spay/Neuter: The American Kennel Club opposes the concept of breeding permits, breeding bans or the mandatory spay/neuter of purebred dogs. Instead, we support reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of purebred dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who meet their responsibilities. Points to Consider:

- The concept of breed-specific legislation is substantively flawed. It is ineffective because not all dogs and their owners are subject to appropriate and fair standards of behavior. Additionally, it is difficult to enforce because law enforcement officials are often not breed-identification experts. In the alternative, strong enforcement of leash laws and establishment of enhanced and graduated penalties will effectively target irresponsible owners of all breeds without unduly burdening responsible owners and breeders. Communities must establish a well-defined procedure for dealing with dogs that repeatedly violate an animal control ordinance or those that are proven to be dangerous. In order to be effective, these ordinances should not single out specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs. Deeds, not breeds, should be addressed.

- The American Kennel Club is joined by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Animal Control Association, the American Bar Association, the National Animal Interest Alliance, and a multitude of animal-focused organizations opposed to breed-specific policies.

- Mandatory spay/neuter is an ineffective solution to animal control problems because it fails to address the heart of animal control issues—irresponsible ownership. These laws are extremely difficult to enforce and are often easily evaded. Furthermore, these laws most often unfairly punish responsible owners who already comply with local animal control laws, while irresponsible owners continue to make problems for the community and local shelters.

Click here for more info:

URGENT: Lee County, FL to Consider Mandatory Spay/Neuter, Breeder Permits, Inspections and More - Tuesday, February 4th

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Please pass this on to any club members in the Lee County, FL area. Tuesday, February 4th, the Lee County Board of Commissioners will consider an ordinance which will severely restrict the rights of responsible breeders and owners. The ordinance includes mandatory spay/neuter provisions, requires all breeders be licensed and inspected by the county and makes a host of other changes that will negatively impact responsible owners and breeders. It is imperative that responsible owners and breeders attend this meeting and oppose this ordinance

Lee County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Date: Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 Time: 9:30am
Location: Commission Chambers, 2120 Main Street, Fort Myers, FL

Key Provisions of the Ordinance
Requires sterilization of all dogs and cats over the age of six months unless the animal serves law enforcement, is registered with a nationally recognized dog or cat club, is working as an agricultural dog, is a hunting or sporting animal whose owner possess a valid hunting license, or has a veterinary exemption.

An unsterilized animal that registered with a national breed club will be sterilized upon a second impoundment. This is not reasonable as a dog may get out once as a puppy and then years later be let out by a child or neighbor leaving a fence unsecured. That is not sufficient to prove the animal a danger or habitually at-large.

Defines a "breeder" as "an individual or business breeding domestic animals for the purpose of producing off-spring for sale, adoption, or other placement. A Breeder is subject to the definitional and locational limitations for animal kennels as contained in the Lee County Development Code."

The Lee County Development Code defines an "animal kennel" as "an establishment where more than four dogs or cats (except litters of animals of not more than six months of age) are kept, raised, bred, cared for or boarded for others." This could be interpreted to mean that any breeder owning more than four dogs or cats would need a kennel license. It should be noted that current ordinances do NOT allow kennels in residential areas.

Requires a certificate to legally breed or stud a dog or cat. The fee for this license is not stated.

Requires breeders to provide contact information for all new pet owners, display their license certificate and includes their license number in any advertisements.

Requires breeders to allow Animal Services to inspect the breeding premises at any reasonable time. It is unreasonable that the authorities would need a warrant to inspect the home of someone suspected of a major felony but that dog breeders are denied the same rights.

Click here for more info:

NY Assembly Approves Debarking Ban

January 24, 2014

Yesterday, the New York Assembly voted to approve a state ban on debarking. The bill now goes to the Senate Agriculture Committee. In 2013, an identical bill passed the Assembly but was held by the Senate Agriculture Committee.

It is imperative that New York residents and those who participate in dog events in the state contact the committee TODAY and ask them to once again oppose Assembly Bill 1204. The AKC opposes this bill, which would restrict the rights of responsible dog owners to make viable, safe decisions on behalf of their pets in conjunction with their veterinarians.

There is much misinformation about the veterinary surgical procedure of debarking. Debarking is a viable veterinary procedure that may allow a dog owner to keep a dog in its loving home rather than to be forced to euthanize or surrender it to a shelter when the pet's noisy behavior continually disrupts the community.

Debarking should only be performed under anesthesia by a qualified veterinarian after behavioral medication efforts to correct a dog's excessive barking have failed. As with other veterinary medical decisions, the decision to debark a dog is best left to individual owners and their veterinarians.

Click here for more info:

New York Pet Dealer Bills Advancing

June 12, 2013

Bills are advancing the in the New York Assembly and Senate that may be of concern to those defined as "pet dealers" in the state.

Assembly Bill 740 and Senate Bill 3753 clarify that counties and municipalities may enact laws, rules, and regulations governing "pet dealers" (defined in current law as those who sell 9 or more dogs/year. (Breeders who raise fewer than 25 dogs/year on their residential premises are exempt.) Under this proposal, such regulations could not be less stringent than state law. If they are more stringent, it would be incumbent on the local government to enforce that law.

The bills would also allow municipalities to enact local laws and regulations governing pet dealers, including laws that address "the source of animals offered for sale by pet dealers", whether spaying/neutering should be required prior to sales by pet dealers, and regulations concerning "the health and safety of animals maintained by pet dealers."

The AKC is concerned that this could allow for strict, burdensome, unnecessary new laws for those who meet the definition of "pet dealers". It would also create a problematic patchwork of varying local laws that will be difficult to enforce.

Senate Bill 3753 is on the third reading calendar and may be voted on any day. Assembly Bill 740 is pending in the Rules Committee and could also be scheduled for a vote very soon.

Click here for more info:

PA Update: Animal Seizure Bill Advances to Senate Floor

June 12, 2013

House Bill 82, which could violate the rights of responsible animal owners, has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and may be scheduled for a Senate vote at any time. While several positive amendments have been made, the measure could still force owners to relinquish their animals when they are accused of cruelty, regardless of whether the charges are ultimately dismissed.

Click here for more info:

NY Assembly Passes Debarking Ban

March 8, 2013

Assembly Bill 1204, which would outlaw the veterinary procedure commonly called "debarking" or "bark softening", has passed the Assembly and is pending in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

New York residents are urged to contact the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and your State Senator and express concerns with Assembly Bill 1204, which could ban a safe veterinary procedure that can help certain dogs stay in loving homes if other behavior modifications fail.

Talking Points:
There is much misinformation circulating about debarking. This is a minimally intrusive procedure that does not eliminate a dog's ability to bark, but rather softens it. It is not meant as an alternative to appropriate dog training and socialization, but is an option that should remain open for those with dogs whose excessive barking cannot be controlled. This decision, made in conjunction with a qualified veterinarian, could be a last resort for owners who would be otherwise forced to give their dog to a shelter instead of a loving home.

Click here for more info:

CT Bill Prohibiting Breed Specific Dangerous Dog Laws Scheduled for Hearing Friday March 8

March 6, 2013

Proposed Connecticut House Bill 6311, which would prohibit municipalities from adopting breed-specific dangerous dog laws, is scheduled for a hearing by the Joint Planning and Development Committee on Friday, March 8, 2013.

The AKC supports this proposed measure and encourages Connecticut residents to consider attending Friday's hearing or contact the members of the Joint Planning and Development Committee to ask them to support House Bill 6311. Read AKC's Talking Points and Issue Analysis, Why Breed-Specific Legislation Doesn't Work.

How You Can Help:
Contact the members of the Committee on Planning and Development and ask them to support House Bill 6311. The committee phone number is: 860-240-0550.

Click here for more info:

WV: Problematic Breeder Bill Reintroduced

March 6, 2013

Yesterday the West Virginia Senate Majority Leader introduced a bill that limits dog ownership and would impose onerous restrictions on those who own 11 or more intact dogs. Among other provisions, those who currently have more than 50 dogs must come under the limit within 30 days - a provision that could be an enormous burden on West Virginia shelters. Also, although some exemptions are included, the AKC believes they are vague and may still impact hobbyists who are not truly commercial breeders.

West Virginia has a short legislative session, and AKC GR expects this bill to move quickly, as it has in past years. We strongly encourage West Virginia residents to contact the members of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, as well as your State Senator TODAY and ask them to not support Senate Bill 437 as currently written. Scroll down for talking points and contact information.

AKC takes a strong line on animal cruelty, and does not believe any dog should be kept in conditions where its basic needs are not met. This is why AKC supports current West Virginia law (§61-8-19), which, among other provisions, makes it unlawful for anyone to withhold proper sustenance, protective shelter and medical treatment.

The AKC appreciates that some of the concerns we expressed about this bill in past years have been addressed. However, Senate Bill 437 would still impose numerous restrictions on individuals who "maintain" eleven or more unsterilized dogs (males and females) over one year of age and breed dogs exclusively as household pets.

AKC's specific concerns include:

- Ownership Limit - The bill limits ownership to 50 intact dogs. Laws that limit animal ownership are ineffective, arbitrary, and do not address the underlying issue of responsible ownership. Limiting the number of animals a person may own will not automatically make them a better owner. Those who own over 50 dogs will have 30 days to relinquish or sell dogs in order to come into compliance. This could be an enormous strain on West Virginia shelters and is not a reasonable requirement if the dogs are being kept in safe, healthy conditions.

- Definition of "Commercial Dog Breeder" - This bill defines a "commercial breeder" as one who owns 11 intact dogs over the age of one year and breeds dogs exclusively as household pets. It also exempts anyone who keeps or breeds dogs "for the purpose of herding or guarding livestock animals, hunting, tracking or exhibiting in dog shows, performance events or field and obedience trials..."

The AKC greatly appreciates the recognition that exhibitors, sportsmen, and other hobbyists should not be considered commercial dog breeders. However, we believe that the exemptions are vague. It is not always possible to tell immediately if dogs from a litter will develop into proper show dogs, sporting dogs, etc. Many breeders will wait to watch the puppies grow before they determine if the dogs will be used for these purposes.

It is also unclear if a breeder would be required to somehow "prove" they are keeping dogs for this purpose, or if breeders would be exempt if they intend to keep or breed dogs for one of these purposes, but may ultimately decide to sell or keep puppies as pets. In the same way, a person may decide at some point to cease their hobby and "retire" their dogs, thereby keeping them as pets.

The AKC is asking the Senate to raise the threshold to a number more indicative of a truly commercial operation and ensure that hobbyists will never be unintentionally impacted.

The bill includes numerous other new requirements, including licensing and twice yearly inspections for all who meet the definition of "commercial breeder".  No primary enclosures or cages may be stacked, and they must have solid flooring.  Breeders are encouraged to read the bill and communicate to legislators how it will impact your ability to properly breed and raise dogs.

Click here for more info:

Bill Will Help Train Service Dogs To Assist North Dakota Veterans

March 5, 2013

The American Kennel Club (AKC) is pleased to support of North Dakota Senate Bill 2344. The bill seeks to provide for funding for the training of service dogs to assist some of the state's veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. All North Dakota residents are encouraged to join in support of the bill.

AKC's POSITION ON THE USE OF DOGS FOR ASSISTANCE AND SERVICE: The American Kennel Club strongly supports the training and use of dogs to provide assistance and service to humans. Dogs provide valuable service as: seeing eye dogs; hearing dogs; therapy dogs; handicapped assistance dogs; drug, bomb, and arson detection dogs; and tracking dogs to locate missing persons and fugitives.

As currently written, SB 2344 would appropriate $50,000 to the State Department of Veterans' Affairs for the training service dogs to assist North Dakota veterans having posttraumatic stress disorder. Additionally, the bill would provide for a legislative study to consider future changes that would further benefit North Dakota veterans.

BILL STATUS: The bill has already passed the North Dakota Senate. It will next be considered by the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee on Friday, March 8, 2013. All North Dakota residents are encouraged to join in support of the bill.

Click here for more info:

Rhode Island BSL Withdrawn

March 1, 2013

Rhode Island House Bill 5287, which would have regulated "pit bulls" (or dogs believed to be "pit bulls") and imposed numerous requirements on their owners, has been withdrawn by its sponsor, Representative Raymond E. Gallison, Jr. Earlier in the week, H5287's companion bill, SB178, was also withdrawn by its sponsor, Senator Ottiano. At this time, no other breed-specific bills are currently pending in Rhode Island.

The American Kennel Club thanks Representative Gallison for withdrawing HB 5287, and encourages all Rhode Island residents concerned with the unfair impacts of breed-specific legislation to thank the Representative for withdrawing HB5287. He may be reached at

Click here for more info:

Rhode Island Introduces Statewide BSL Measure

February 7, 2013

Two bills have been introduced in Rhode Island that would regulate all "pit bulls" (or dogs believed to be "pit bulls") and impose numerous requirements on the owners. The bill would also require every kennel, veterinary office, and commercial breeder, among others, to post a sign notifying people of the new law and providing contact information for someone to report a dog owner who is not in compliance.

AKC strongly encourages Rhode Island residents to contact the committees where these bills have been assigned and ask them to oppose these measures.

H 5287 and S 178 would regulate all "pit bulls" in the state. "Pit bull" is defined as any dog that substantially conforms to the American Staffordshire Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or American Pit Bull Terrier standards. Testimony by a veterinarian, zoologist, animal behaviorist, or animal control officer that states the dog has these physical characteristics creates the rebuttable presumption that the dog is in fact a "pit bull".

The bills also contain "legislative findings" that in part state that these breeds were developed for the purpose of fighting and that breeders have "selected and maximized" certain traits, including an "unusually aggressive temperament towards human beings and animals" and "an extraordinary directness in their method of attack that does not include common warning signs such as barking or growling."

Those who own dogs that meet the definition of "pit bull" must always keep the dog securely confined indoors, in a locked pen, or muzzled. Exceptions are made for when dogs are participating in dog shows or hunting.

Among other requirements, all veterinary offices, kennels, commercial breeders, commercial animal establishments, pet shops, and dog groomers must post a sign highlighting the pit bull law and local animal control contact information to report anyone who is not abiding by these laws. A kennel is defined in law as any establishment where dogs are kept that are not owned by the kennel owner.

The American Kennel Club strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be "dangerous" based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs. We support laws that: establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as "dangerous" based on stated, measureable actions; impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners; and establish a well-defined method for dealing with dogs proven to be dangerous.

Click here for more info:

Minnesota to Consider Breeder Regulations on Wednesday (2/13)

February 8, 2013

The Minnesota House Civil Law Committee will consider a bill on Wednesday, February 13 that would require licensing and inspections of "commercial dog breeders" and require all who meet the vague definition of "hobby breeders" to register with the state.

The AKC has numerous concerns with House File 84 and the significant burden it would place on responsible Minnesota dog breeders, while doing nothing to improve the lives of dogs in the state.

AKC encourages dog owners and breeders to contact the members of the committee and consider attending Wednesday's hearing to express your concerns with House File 84.

Click here for more info:


Links for Updates

NAIA Trust Lobby Center

AKC Legislative Alerts

Click to download:
Tail Docking Statements

AKC NY docking sample letter