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RECENTLY PASSED LAWS
Posted on 09/09/2009 in Your Dog, Your Rights.

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Oregon signed HB 2470 into law June 17, 2009
The new Oregon breeder bill will limit breeders to 50 intact dogs, 2 years of age or older that are kept for the primary purpose of reproduction. A breeder is defined as keeping those dogs for reproduction if they sell more than 3 litters per year. If a person has 10 or more intact dogs, 8 months of age or older, they must meet standards and regulations for care and containment, such as a rule that crates may not be stacked. Anyone with 75 or more dogs must have at least one person on site for 8 hours each day and a ratio of no more than 75 dogs per person. The new law also defines a ‘pet dealer’ as someone who sells 5 or more litters in one year. Pet dealers must refund the purchase price, exchange for another puppy, or cover the cost of vet bills (limited by the purchase price) for a dog sold if:

  • the dog was found to be diseased within 15 days of purchase, or
  • the dog was found to have a congenital disorder within one year of purchase.
Pet dealers that disclose the defect to the buyer or had the dog examined by a vet within 14 days before the sale with no disease discovered are exempt from the requirements.

What it means:

A person that has more than 50 intact dogs housed at their facility (the person does not have to own the dogs) and has more than 3 litters a year will either face charges, or need to spay/neuter some dogs to bring their intact dog number below 50. Also, any person with 10 or more dogs at their facility (again, this person does not have to own the dogs) may have to make changes to meet the new legally required standards of care.


Another major impact of the new law is that all dog breeders who sell 5 or more litters per year will be called ‘pet dealers’ and will have to follow consumer protection laws. Usually, these types of puppy lemon laws only apply retailers and pet stores. Puppy lemon laws make warranties for the puppy where the seller never made any warranties. However, breeders that fall into the ‘pet dealer’ definition could include disclaimers in their sales contracts to cancel out the warranties imposed by this law, as there is nothing in the law that says disclaimers cannot be used. Also, if the breeder has the dog they are selling cleared by a vet within 14 days before the sale, the puppy buyer cannot later sue if they find out within a year that the dog has a genetic condition.

Hawaii amended current domestic temporary restraining order rules effective January 1, 2010

A new amendment to Hawaii law authorizes temporary restraining orders (TRO) to include household animals, and prevents the party whom the TRO is directed at from “taking, concealing, removing, threatening, physically abusing, or otherwise disposing of” any family animals.

What it means:

This new addition to Hawaii law will include animals under the protection of a TRO. If an individual has a TRO against them and the household pet is included, they will not be able to get away with taking the pet with them or commit any abuse against the pet. If this law was not in place, the restrained individual would be able to take the pet away or abuse the pet without the extra repercussions they now face. In other words, without this law, they would only face animal cruelty charges for abuse, but with the law they would also face violation of their TRO. It also helps prevent animals being used as a form of leveraged in domestic situations.

Hawaii also amended current animal cruelty law to include confinement and tethering restrictions, effective July 1, 2009

New amendments to Hawaii animal cruelty laws make it illegal to confine an animal in a kennel or cage “in a cruel or inhumane manner.” It also makes it illegal to tether a dog using a choke, pinch, or prong collar. The new amendment also redefines an animal hoarder as one that has 15 or more dogs and/or cats and “fails to provide necessary sustenance for each” animal. The law is set to be repealed on July 1, 2015.

What it means:

It’s not clear from this new law what exactly confining a dog “in a cruel or inhumane manner” is. The law does not define exactly what confinement is cruel, and should be watched in the future to see what situations make up cruel confinement. The law also makes it illegal to tether dogs, but only when a choke, pinch, or prong collar is used to tie the dog up. Otherwise, using one of these collars while walking a dog on a leash is still legal. Lowering the threshold number of animals for animal hoarders is a way to stop them before their animal numbers become too high. The cost of dealing with large numbers of animals seized in hoarding situations can be quite high, through veterinary treatment, general care and maintenance of animals being rehabilitated for adoption, and euthanasia for those that adoption is not possible. One will not be considered a hoarder simply for having 15 or more dogs and/or cats, but only if they are also not caring adequately for those animals.

Missouri passed HB 481 into law on July 10, 2009

Missouri has now made it law that no ordinance may be enacted within the state that describes the relationship between humans and their animals as anything other than humans may OWN animals.

What it means:

While this may at first appear to be mincing words, it is actually quite significant for dog owners. No wording may be used in any Missouri law to call humans ‘guardians’ over animals instead of owners. Referring to dog owners as ‘guardians’ instead of owners carries many legal implications. If people become guardians over their dogs, then dogs are elevated from property status to something more---meaning potential legal rights for dogs. As a guardian in the eyes of the law, one is responsible for the care and custody of their ward. Sounds all fine and good, right? Unlike ownership, the guardian owes a fiduciary duty to their ward, and holds no title to the ward’s property. Most current legal guardian situations are with regards children as the subject matter. More recently, individuals have been appointed legal guardians over animals in large-scale abuse and neglect cases, such as Michael Vick’s dogs. A guardian was appointed by the court to oversee the care and placement for all of Michael Vick’s dogs, but she was not the owner of the dogs. If animal owners are redefined as guardians, their animals would have the same legal rights as children. An animal could potentially own property, could have lawsuits filed on their behalf, and would greatly reduce the current freedom and right of an individual to make decisions for their pet.

This Missouri law ensures that animals will remain property in the state, and that owners will retain control to make decisions for their animals.

Tennessee signed “Commercial Breeder Act” into law July 8, 2009

After a long battle and many amendments, the Tennessee “Commercial Breeder Act” has been passed into law with less restrictions than originally written into the bill. The original bill contained, among other restrictions, requirements that anyone who had over 20 intact animals over 6 months old be subject to unannounced inspections, and limited the number of dogs one could own. The current law does not contain an ownership limit, and while it places many restrictions on ‘commercial breeders’ (defined as a person who has 20 or more intact adult female dogs or cats), it excludes those who have dogs for veterinary medicine, hunting, training and/or handling, and boarding/grooming. The law will also expire on June 30, 2014.

What It Means

Any breeder who has 20 or more intact adult female dogs must be prepared to demonstrate they fall into one of the exceptions, or face the many restrictions that will make it more costly and difficult to remain a breeder with that many female dogs. While this law will require breeders to possibly take extra steps to demonstrate their exemption, it will provide supplementary measures, in addition to already existing animal cruelty laws, to combat irresponsible breeders that give breeders a bad name.