On Thursday, January 23, the Maryland General Assembly will once again consider bills to overturn a 2012 court ruling that declared all “pit bulls” as dangerous. Maryland residents are encouraged to contact the Maryland House Judiciary Committee and ask them to support overturning this discriminatory ruling. Residents are also encouraged to express any other comments you have on House Bill 73 and House Bill 80.
Since the Tracey v. Solesky ruling, many dogs have automatically been ruled as dangerous regardless of their actions. The ruling also stated that landlords should be held liable for allowing tenants to keep such dogs on their property. Several bills have been introduced to overturn this ruling, but to date none have passed.
The House Judiciary Committee will consider two bills on January 23 that again seek to overturn the breed-specific court ruling. The bills each contain different provisions.
Here is a summary of how the two bills would address a dog’s aggressive actions:
House Bill 73 creates strict liability for all dog owners – regardless of breed. If a dog causes personal injury or death, there is then a “rebuttable presumption” that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had vicious or dangerous propensities. The judge may not make a determination on the rebuttable presumption, however, until after the jury has issued a verdict.
Maryland state law already has definitions of “potentially dangerous” and “dangerous” dogs that are based on a dog’s specific actions and behavior. This bill would hold dog owners responsible for their pet’s behavior regardless of whether they have previously been designated “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous”. The AKC appreciates that this is a compromise measure that seeks to address many concerns. It is unclear, however, how these new legal provisions would impact owners of dogs that cause injury or death.
House Bill 80 holds owners liable if their dog is running at large and causes personal injury or death. The owner will be held accountable regardless of whether the dog has shown dangerous or vicious behavior in the past. The owner is exempt, however, if the dog was provoked, or if the victim was trespassing, committing a criminal offense, negligent, or had previously assumed the risk for the dog. Exemptions are also made for police and military dogs, service dogs, veterinary hospitals, dog walkers, animal control, pet stores, commercial kennels, or people who are temporarily keeping or harboring a dog.
While we support the intent of both House Bill 73 and House Bill 80 to overturn the Tracey v. Solesky ruling, we believe that House Bill 80 will prove more effective than House Bill 73 in protecting the rights of responsible dog owners in cases where a dog acts out of protection or defense. Read AKC's letter to the House Judiciary Committee.
What You Can Do:
AKC encourages Maryland residents to contact the committee members regarding House Bill 73 and House Bill 80. Residents may also consider attending the hearings. The information is as follows:
House Judiciary Committee (click on the link to access contact information) Thursday, January 23, 2014 2:00 p.m. House Office Building, Room 100 Annapolis, MD 21401 ** If you wish to testify in committee, you must take 35 copies of your remarks to the committee clerk at least 1 hour prior to the hearing, and sign the witness register before the hearing begins.
Washington State: House Committee to Consider Prohibiting BSL
Dear AKC Delegates, Club Officers, Judges and Breeders,
Please share this information with club members in Washington State.
On Thursday, January 16th the Washington State House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider House Bill 2117, which 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.
Please support responsible dog owners and breeders of all breeds by asking your legislators to approve this legislation.
House Judiciary Committee Meeting
Date: Tuesday, January 16th, 2014 Time: 8:00am Location: House Hearing Room A, John L. O'Brien Building, 504 15th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501
What You Can Do:
Send a comment to the members of the Judiciary Committee in support of this legislation. You can fill out a form online by clicking here.
Email or call the members of the House Judiciary Committee individually and ask them to support HB 2117.
Contact your representative and ask him or her to support responsible dog owners by supporting HB 2117. You can find your representative by clicking here.
Washington State Judiciary Committee Members
Representative Laurie Jinkins (Chair)
Representative Drew Hansen (Vice-Chair)
Representative Roger E. Goodman
Representative Mike Hope
Representative Steve Kirby
Representative Brad Klippert
The New York Assembly will soon vote on two bills that will have a significant impact on New York dog owners. New York residents are strongly encouraged to contact your State Assemblyperson and ask them to support Assembly Bill 3952 (prevent breed discrimination in insurance) and oppose Assembly Bill 1204 (ban on debarking procedures).
Both of these bills passed the Assembly in 2013, but died in the Senate. They were both immediately placed on a calendar on the first day of the 2014 session, meaning they can now be voted on in the Assembly any day.
To find the name and contact information for your New York State Assemblymember, click here and type in your address. A full list of Assemblymember e-mail addresses can be found here.
Assembly Bill 3952 – Prevent Breed Discrimination in Insurance
Assembly Bill 3952 prohibits insurers from refusing to issue, renew or cancel or raise premiums for homeowners’ insurance based solely on the breed of dog (or mixed-breed) owned by the policyholder. The bill does allow for insurance companies to take these actions if the dog has been declared dangerous based on current law.
New York state law already expressly prohibits municipalities from passing laws that target specific breeds of dogs. AKC GR supports A. 3952, which would ensure that the rights of dog owners are also protected when obtaining homeowners’ insurance. At the same time, it does allow insurance companies to impose a “reasonably increased premium or rate” or to cancel or deny a policy if the applicant owns a dog that has been declared dangerous as defined in state law.
Assembly Bill 1204, which would outlaw the veterinary surgery commonly called “debarking” or “bark softening”, has been scheduled for a vote by the NY Assembly.
The AKC opposes this measure, 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 toeuthanize 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.
IN Alert: City of Marion to Discuss Mandatory Spay/Neuter on Jan. 7
December 19, 2013
AKC Government Relations understands that a Marion City Council Rules Subcommittee has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, January 7, to discuss a possible mandatory spay/neuter proposal for the city. It is believed that this proposal is an attempt to address shelter population issues in Marion.
Although a draft is not yet available, items that have been discussed include requiring all dogs and cats over six months of age to be sterilized unless the owner purchases a breeding license and complies with numerous regulations. Media reports indicate that other provisions may include limits on the number of females bred in a year and the number of dogs and cats that may be owned.
Residents are strongly encouraged to consider attending the January 7 meeting and express your opposition to this proposal. Although the discussion is currently residing with a subcommittee, please also consider contacting the Marion City Council and ask them to not support any measure that would punish responsible dog owners and breeders.
Marion City Council Rules Subcommittee Tuesday, January 7, 2013 5:00 pm City Council Chambers 301 S. Branson Street Marion, Indiana
City Council Contact Information:
URGENT: AZ Alert: Phoenix City Council to Consider Problematic Definition of “Pet Dealer” TOMORROW (12/18)
December 17, 2013
The AKC Government Relations Department (AKC GR) has just learned that the Phoenix City Council will consider a proposal tomorrow that would prevent “pet dealers” from selling puppies unless the puppies come from a shelter or nonprofit rescue.
The concern is that the definition of “pet dealer” exempts kennels, which are defined as those who keep or harbor five or more dogs. It is unclear if those who have fewer than five dogs would be considered a “pet dealer” and therefore subject to this regulation.
Those who reside or participate in dog events in Phoenix are encouraged to consider attending tomorrow’s hearing and contacting the Phoenix City Council and respectfully ask them to clarify this proposal to ensure that Phoenix hobbyists with fewer than five dogs are not included in this ordinance.
Phoenix City Council Hearing Wednesday, December 18, 2013 3:00 pm Phoenix City Hall Council Chambers 200 W Jefferson Street
Contact Information: Click here to find your City Council member
Click here to find the contact information for Mayor Stanton and the Phoenix City Council.
The STCA Board passed the following resolution on Legislation:
7-9-10: Motion: I make a motion to adopt and publish this statement. The Scottish Terrier Club of America was formed and exists to encourage and promote the responsible breeding and ownership of Scottish Terriers and to protect and advance the interests of these dogs. Towards these ends, all members of the STCA sign the following Code of Ethics.
The STCA encourages its members to become educated about and involved in local legislative issues and to support the AKC. We also ask for members to notify the legislative committee of important legislation in their area.
The following items and links are provided by the STCA Legislative committee. They may be national or local in scope. This is provide for your information because the Legislative committee felt it may be of interested. Unless specifically noted, none of the information here represents an STCA BOD approved position statement (See above). If you want more information, contact the STCA Legislative Committee.
The following list shows some of the current AKC alerts. Clicking on an article below will take you to the that alert on the AKC Page. For the complete list, visit the AKC Legislative Alerts page.