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Posted on 11/09/2009 in Your Dog, Your Rights.

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California Senate Bill 250

California Senate Bill 250, the mandatory spay and neuter legislation discussed in the last column, has been tabled until the next California legislative session in 2010. It has not yet been defeated and will most definitely resurface. The bill was last amended on August 31, 2009. It unfortunately still has no requirement that intact dog permits be made available state-wide. As originally written, intact dog licenses will only be available in municipalities and counties that choose to provide that option.
he amendment adds that a dog found at large, with an intact dog permit and a valid general dog license will NOT be subject to an automatic intact dog permit revocation for a first offense. The amendment also removed the requirement that any intact dog sold at 4 months old or older have an intact dog permit, as this conflicts with the 6 month minimum required in the original bill.

However, if an owner is found to have committed any of the following:

    • allowing an unlicensed intact dog to roam at large
    • violation of animal cruelty provisions
    • violation of a rabies quarantine
    • participation in dog fighting
    • failure to comply with regulations for keeping a dangerous dog
    • failure to have an intact dog permit
Then, the owner will then have to get the dog sterilized and provide written verification of the sterilization. Fees, costs, and/or fines will be waived for the first impoundment if the owner obtains a license and sterilizes the dog. Owners of impounded intact dogs will still be responsible for costs even if they surrender the dog.

Sellers of intact dogs of any age must provide the names and addresses of new owners to the licensing agency; exactly what licensing agency is not specified. Local governments may still create and enact more strict regulations than what is contained in this bill; meaning they could potentially require ALL dogs be spayed or neutered. However, the new amendment adds more exceptions to the mandatory spay and neuter:

    • herding dogs
    • dogs used ‘in the business of cultivating agricultural products’
    • dogs used for hunting or field trials, if the owner has a hunting license
    • service, guide, or signal dogs
    • peace officer or firefighter dogs
There is still no exception for show or performance dogs. The current law in place in California already somewhat punishes owners of intact dogs. Owners of spayed or neutered dogs can obtain a dog license for 50% of the price if they show proof that the dog is spayed or neutered. The new amendment defined an ‘unaltered dog license’ as a full price license, but still does not specify whether that is available and accepted state-wide.

Pennsylvania House Bill 123

Pennsylvania House Bill 123 seeks to give more protection to service dogs. If passed, it will be a 2nd degree misdemeanor for the owner or the co-owner of a dog that kills, maims, or disfigures a guide dog, hearing dog, or service dog. In addition to a criminal penalty, the owner will be required to pay veterinary costs to treat the injured dog or, if necessary, the cost of obtaining and training a replacement dog.

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 250

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 250 would restrict and regulate dog breeding in Wisconsin. The bill defines a dog breeder as one who sells 25 or more dogs per year that they bred and raised. However, an amendment has been proposed that would eliminate that definition and define a dog breeder as someone who sells over 3 litters of dogs per year. The bill defines an animal shelter as a facility that shelters at least 25 dogs per year, and a dog dealer as one who sells at least 25 dogs per year or at least 50 dogs per year at auction. Dog breeders, dealers, and animal shelters must obtain an annual license, and have one license per facility if they have more than one location. They must fill out an application for the license, and must provide ‘information reasonably required by the department’ on the license application, which leaves it open-ended as to what kind of information or background check the department could potentially require. The department in charge is the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The license must be physically posted at all locations that are licensed.

The licensing fees for breeders, dealers, and shelters are as follows:

    • sells or offers for sale at least 25 but less than 50 dogs per year: $250
    • sells or offers for sale at least 50 but less than 100 dogs per year: $500
    • sells or offers for sale at least 100 but less than 250 dogs per year: $750
    • sells or offers for sale 250 or more dogs per year: $1000
    • animal shelters, regardless of dog numbers: $125
The bill also provides that the department may raise the license fees if necessary.

Licenses may be denied or revoked if ‘the applicant or licensee is not fit, qualified, or equipped to conduct the activity’ under the license. This does not provide much guidance as to denial or revocation of licenses, and could be broadly and subjectively interpreted. Further, the department may suspend a licensed without notice or a hearing if any conditions are found that ‘imminently threatens the health, safety, or welfare’ of an animal. The department will give the licensee notice that their license has been suspended and a date for a reinspection, but the department may conduct the reinspection without notice to the licensee. The breeder or dog dealer may also have to pay a $150 reinspection fee. The department may then reinstate the license, but may do so at a date they deem appropriate.

Licensees are subject to inspections no matter what. Applicants must be inspected before being issued a license, and are subject to inspections at least every 2 years thereafter. Officials may enter and inspect the premises with no notice, during normal business hours. This may be a serious invasion of private property for breeders who run kennels from their home.

Licensed sellers must provide to puppy buyers a veterinary certificate that a veterinarian has examined the dog and found it to be free of disease and a vaccination record. Intact dogs that are sold at auction must have a negative brucellosis test performed within the previous 30 days in addition to the certificate and vaccination record requirements. Puppies must be 7 weeks old in order to be sold. Licensees are required to keep records of all dogs as well.

The bill further provides vague and ambiguous standards of care, left open to subjective interpretation. As for temporary dog markets (flea markets and the like), they do not have to be licensed as breeders and dealers do. However, if the seller is selling dogs for 2 or more consecutive days, they must have a veterinarian examine all dogs. However, the proposed amendment would exclude any sort of dog trials from temporary dog market requirements. A dog trial under the amendment is defined as an ‘organized competitive field event involving sporting dog breeds that is sanctioned, licensed, or recognized by a local, state, regional, or national dog organization.’ The bill also contains a provision that dogs may be seized by department officials if they believe it’s being mistreated. The amendment would remove this power of seizure by department officials and would instead require them to report the mistreatment to animal control officers or local law enforcement.

Finally, the bill creates an advisory committee to assist in writing rules to administrate the law. The committee would consist of at least one representative from the following groups:

    • Retail dog sellers
    • Dog breeders selling less than 50 dogs per year
    • Dog breeders selling more than 50 dogs per year
    • Sporting associations whose primary activities involve dogs
    • Humane societies
    • Veterinarians
    • Animal control facilities
    • Breed rescue groups
The amendment would replace the two groups of breeders listed above and additional humane societies with the following:

    • Dog breeders that sell large dogs and that sell less than 50 dogs per year
    • Dog breeders that sell small dogs and sell less than 50 dogs per year
    • Dog breeders that sell large dogs and that sell 50 or more dogs per year
    • Dog breeders that sell small dogs and that sell 50 or more dogs per year
    • Humane societies providing shelter to less than 500 dogs per year
    • Humane societies providing shelter to 500 or more dogs per year
Penalties under this bill could be hefty. If a breeder or dealer is found to be operating without a license, they could face up to a $10,000 fine and/or imprisonment for up to 9 months. Other violations under the bill could be up to $1000 for the first offense and up to $2000 for subsequent offenses.

City of New Orleans, Spay and Neuter Ordinance

A mandatory spay and neuter ordinance that also contains some hidden breeding regulations was introduced in September. If passed, this ordinance would require dog owners to spay or neuter all dogs over the age of 6 months. Owners may obtain breeder permits to keep dogs intact. Exceptions to the mandatory spay/neuter include:

    • dogs under 6 months of age
    • dogs certified by a vet to potentially suffer serious bodily harm or death if spayed or neutered
    • dogs that have been in the city for less than 30 days
    • the dog owner has, or is applying for a breeder permit
    • dogs used for government, rescue, law enforcement, or other government purposes
A breeder permit is required in order to breed OR to own an intact dog, regardless of intention to breed the intact dog. Breeder permits are issued for each individual dog and not by owner, therefore it could become quite pricey for breeders with several intact dogs. However, if a dog has more than one owner that information must be provided on the application. In order to obtain a breeder permit, an owner must meet the following conditions for each dog:

    • A written description of the dog, proof of current vaccinations, a photograph of the dog, and a photograph of the dog’s living conditions.
    • The dog must be micro-chipped; the permit application fee will cover the cost of the microchip if it is implanted by the Louisiana SPCA (referred to as the Society in the ordinance).
    • The owner must show that they have ‘space determined to be suitable to the Society in which to breed dogs and raise the puppies.’ No real definition or standards as to what constitutes suitable space are given, nor does it specify how the space will be examined; i.e. will there be an inspection?
    • Female dogs may not be bred under the age of 18 months, and may not have more than 1 litter per year.
    • Puppies may not be sold, adopted, or given away under the age of 8 weeks old.
    • The breeder permit number must be displayed when advertising for puppies, but the ordinance does not specify where it must be displayed.
    • The owner must pay the $30 application fee plus a prorated portion of the $20 annual permit fee.
If a permit becomes more than 30 days delinquent, the City Health Department will issue a citation. Furthermore, a failure by the owner to receive notice does not relieve the obligation of the owner. Penalties for violations of this ordinance are considerable. A first offense is $100 per dog, a second offense is up to $250 per dog, and a third and subsequent offense is up to $500 per dog and impoundment of the dog(s). If the dog is impounded, then the owner must pay a surgery deposit to the Society or obtain a breeder permit within 10 days. If the owner does neither of these, the dog will be relinquished to the Society. A failure to renew a breeder permit on time will result in a $10 per day late fee. The ordinance does provide that if the Society determines that fees would cause a financial hardship, then the fees may be waived.