Category Archives: State Specific

Georgia bill to prohibit breed discriminatory laws moves forward

A bill that was introduced in the Georgia state legislature would prohibit breed discriminatory laws on the state level.

SB 184 is a relatively simple bill.  It would amend the current dangerous dog law to include the following language:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 4-8-1, no county, municipality, or local 12 authority shall adopt any ordinance or resolution for the regulation of domestic dogs that 13 classifies based on breed.

Most importantly, the bill expressly includes language that would repeal all existing breed discriminatory laws.

Last week, SB 184 cleared the Senate and moved on to the House.  The vote of 42-11 was a decisive victory for the bill.  SB 184 has been assigned to the House Government Affairs committee.

There is a companion bill in the House, HB 124.  This bill is identical in its language to SB 184.  This bill has cleared the second reading and is moving to the Senate side.  The fact that these bills have cleared the sides of the legislature that they started on is a very good sign.  There is support for the end of breed discriminatory laws on both sides.

The passage of these bills would be a huge step.  We do not see a lot of southern states taking on the issue of breed discriminatory laws and BDL seems to be more common in the south than in the north and west percentage wise.  Not only would this bill protect the rights of residents, it would also have a huge impact on the surrounding states and open the door to consideration of similar bills in the surrounding area.

GEORGIA RESIDENTS:  It is imperative that you continue to reach out to express support for this bill.  Take the time to write your Representative a note of support for SB 184.  A list of members of the House can be found here: http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/HouseMembersList.aspx

You can find your specific Representative here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

The contact information for the House Government affairs committee is as follows:
Rep. Ed Rynders, Chair:  ed.rynders@house.ga.gov
Rep. Buzz Brockway,: buzz.brockway@house.ga.gov
Rep. Tyrone Brooks:  tyrone.brooks@house.ga.gov
Rep. Barry Fleming: barry.fleming@house.ga.gov
Rep. Hugh Floyd:  hugh.floyd@house.ga.gov
Rep. Mark Hamilton:  mark.hamilton@house.ga.gov
Rep. Dustin Hightower: dustin.hightower@house.ga.gov
Rep. Rusty Kidd:  rusty.kidd@house.ga.gov
Rep. Eddie Lumsden: eddie.lumsden@house.ga.gov
Rep. John Meadows:  john.meadows@house.ga.gov
Rep. Howard Mosby:  howard.mosby@house.ga.gov
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver: mary.oliver@house.ga.gov
Rep. Larry O’Neal:  larry.oneal@house.ga.gov
Rep. Alan Powell:  alan.powell@house.ga.gov
Rep. Jay Powell:  jay.powell@house.ga.gov
Rep. Tom Taylor:  tom.taylor@house.ga.gov
Rep. Darlene K. Taylor:  darlene.taylor@house.ga.gov
Rep. Bruce Williamson: bruce.williamson@house.ga.gov

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Rhode Island bill would allow towns to reinstate breed discriminatory laws

Officials in Pawtucket, Rhode Island are once again trying to make it so they are allowed to retain their breed ban.

The ban was nullified by the recently passed state law prohibiting breed discriminatory laws.  When the state law was passed, officials claimed the law did not nullify existing ordinances.  Pawtucket was then sued by the Defenders of Animals and Albert Alix.  A judge found that Pawtucket did not have the right to retain the ban and the state law supersedes all existing breed discriminatory laws.  Pawtucket officials had time to appeal this decision.  They did not appeal.

Instead, they are attempting to get their breed ban back legislatively.

A bill, H 5800, would amend the state’s animal control law that prohibits breed discriminatory laws.  The amendment would allow cities that had such a law before July 15, 2013, to keep them intact.

6 (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, any rule, regulation 7 or ordinance specific to any breed of dog or cat enacted in any city or town prior to July 15, 2013, 8 shall remain in full force and effect until repealed by the appropriate officials of the city or town.

This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Municipal Government and has not yet been scheduled for a hearing date.

Pawtucket had their chance when the bill was being heard and again, during the court case.  The courts have ruled and this bill is a last-ditch attempt at being able to defy the order the judge.

This would not only affect Pawtucket, but would also allow any other town to re-instate their breed discriminatory law.

RHODE ISLAND RESIDENTS:

Reach out to the committee and respectfully ask that they do not support this bill.

The Defenders of Animals are collecting a legal paper petition in opposition to this bill.  Defenders of Animals will be at the Pet Supplies Plus at 171 Sockanosset Cross Rd Cranston, RI 02920 on Sunday March 8, 2015, between 12 Noon and 4 PM collecting signatures.  People in the area who can attend to sign should do so.

It is imperative that you reach out now, so this bill does not move forward.

The committee contact information is as follows:

 Representative Mia A. Ackerman: rep-ackerman@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Gregg Amore: rep-amore@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Jean-Phillipe Barros: rep-barros@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative David A. Bennett: rep-bennett@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Gregory J. Costantino: rep-costantino@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative David A. Coughlin, Jr.: rep-coughlin@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Robert E. Craven, Sr.: rep-craven@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Blake A. Filippi: rep-filippi@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Kathleen A. Fogarty: rep-fogarty@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Joy Hearn: rep-hearn@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Raymond H. Johnston, Jr.: rep-johnston@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Charlene Lima: rep-lima@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Shelby Maldonado: rep-maldonado@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Kenneth A. Marshall:  rep-marshall@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Justin Price:  rep-price@rilin.state.ri.us

Potential statewide BSL-Mississippi

UPDATED 1/27/2015:  We are hearing that the committee will not be bringing this bill forward to be heard.  It is unclear at this time if this is the action of the full committee or by request of the sponsor.  As of February 3rd, the bill will have passed its deadline for the committee to act and will be officially dead.  At this time we are removing contact information for the bills sponsors but will be monitoring the situation and calendars extremely closely, so that should HB 1261 be scheduled to be heard, we will be able to alert accordingly.  When we have more information or when the bill is either pulled or dead we will update here, as well as issuing a separate alert.

We are not taking the decision to remove contact information lightly and if we did not believe this was credible information, we would not have removed it.

1/25/2015-A state level alert is being issued for the state of Mississippi.

Best Friends Animal Society has discovered that a bill, House Bill 1261, has been introduced that would target dogs resembling pit bulls, including in the definition, American Bulldogs.

The language of the bill:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

SECTION 1. The provisions of Sections 1 through 6 shall be known and may be cited as the “Mississippi Regulation of Dangerous Dogs Act.”
SECTION 2. For purposes of Sections 1 through 6 of this act, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed below, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise: Dangerous dog means: 1. Any pit bull dog in a class of dogs that specifically includes the
breeds of American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American bulldog, and any other pure bred or mixed that is a combination of these breeds.

The bill creates a list of requirements for owners of dogs designated as restricted and criminal penalties for failure to meet these requirements.  Dogs must be muzzled when off the property, secured when on the property either by a kennel or tether.  The owner must place a sign on the property alerting the presence of the “dangerous dog,” keep their windows closed in a manner that the dog cannot potentially escape and a person convicted of a felony cannot own a “dangerous dog.”

One thing that stands out is the encouragement of tethering in this bill.  The bill specifies that an owner of a “dangerous dog” must  “Leash, chain, tie or tether the dog to an inanimate object other than one within a secure enclosure, such as a tree or building.

The bill gives “law enforcement officers” blanket authority to enter a person’s property in order to check that they are in compliance with the bill.

“In order to determine if there is a violation of this section, a law enforcement officer, at any time, may enter the premises where a dangerous dog is kept, or is believed to be kept, for an on-site inspection of the premises.” (emphasis mine)

This is a costly piece of legislation.  The Best Friends fiscal impact calculator estimates the expense of this piece of legislation at almost $4 and a half MILLION dollars a year.

As more and more states prohibit breed discriminatory laws, this would be a huge step back for community safety, and the rights of individuals, as well as starting a potential landslide of even more stringent forms of breed discrimination, such as bans, across the state.  We saw this effect in Ohio, when their statewide restrictions were in place.

The language of the bill in general tramples on many constitutional rights in many different ways, as well as allows dogs to be taken and killed off-hand under certain circumstances, regardless as to the actual breed or type of the dog.  As usual, we see no thought as to how these dogs will be identified and how people may contest identification, nor is there any understanding for the monumental financial strain this will put on both the state and the dogs owners.

You may view the full text of the bill here:  http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2015/pdf/HB/1200-1299/HB1261IN.pdf

Rhode Island HB 7630 to allow Warwick to enact breed discriminatory law set for hearing

Rhode Island HB 7630 has been scheduled for a date to be heard by the first committee.  The House Committee on Municipal Government is set to hear the bill on March 20th.

The bill would allow the city of Warwick to re-institute their breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law.  The old ordinance was voided when the Rhode Island legislature passed a law that made breed discriminatory laws illegal in the state.

This bill follows on the heels of another bill, by the same sponsors, which had attempted to alter state law to allow any town to pass a breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law.  That bill was tabled for further study.  The legislators then submitted HB 7630.

The bill’s sponsors are representatives of Warwick.

Warwick’s old law was a prohibition on owning a targeted dog unless it was altered, or the person had a license for breeding issued by the director on the local animal shelter.  Targeted dogs included American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, “or a dog that is a mix of the two breeds.”

Warwick animal control currently does a fantastic job of out reach.  They work with owners to provide low-cost services and to educate owners on the issue of spay/neuter.  This out reach is what is responsible for their effective population control, not the old law.

It has been proven time and time again that the solution to over population issues is effective out reach and community solutions.  These programs are responsible for the decrease in population and increase in positive outcomes for animals.  Many places do not have breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter laws, but they do have community out reach and education, and they still see the same results.

With the programs and out reach being done in the community, there is no reason for a law that would penalize people based on the appearance of their dog.  This is aside from the issue that these laws have the exact opposite effects of their intentions.  Communicating to underserved areas and providing resources does so much more for everyone.

Rhode Island residents:

Please reach out to the members of the committee and ask them to oppose this bill.  The state law was passed for a reason, and to allow a single town exemption via a bill is counter to the intent of the state law.  The rights of all residents of the state of Rhode Island deserve the same consideration.

Residents of Warwick, especially, should reach out to their representatives to oppose this bill.

Committee on Municipal Government:

rep-ogrady@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-newberry@rilin.state.ri.us,   rep-marshall@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-lima@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-kazarian@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-johnston@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-hearn@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-desimone@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-costantino@rilin.state.ri.us,   rep-bennett@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-amore@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-ackerman@rilin.state.ri.us

Rhode Island HB 7630 would allow a single town to enact a breed discriminatory law

A bill has been introduced in the Rhode Island state legislature that would amend the current state law that prohibits breed discriminatory laws.

The bill was introduced to allow the city of Warwick to enact a breed discriminatory spay/neuter law.

HB 7630 would add the following language to current state law that prohibits breed discriminatory laws.  Breed discriminatory laws would be prohibited  “…except in those instances where the rule, regulation or ordinance pertains to spaying or neutering of pit bulls and staffordshire bull terriers located in the city of Warwick, and provided such rule, regulation or ordinance shall not apply to licensed breeders of such dogs.”

When the current state law that prohibited breed discriminatory laws was passed, it was unclear what the intention of the bill was, regarding existing ordinances in the text of the bill.  The bills sponsors, however stated very clearly that they intended it to apply retroactively.  Pawtucket took issue with the law, saying that their existing breed discriminatory ordinance should be allowed to stay.  Warwick was another town that had an existing breed discriminatory law.

Warwick’s old law was a prohibition on owning a targeted dog unless it was altered, or the person had a license for breeding issued by the director on the local animal shelter.  Targeted dogs included American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, “or a dog that is a mix of the two breeds.”

It appears that Pawtucket is going the way of litigation in an attempt to keep their old law, but Warwick is attempting to get this specific legislative exemption.

The amending of a state law to allow one town an exemption is bizarre, to say the least.  The bills sponsor has already said that the bill was intended to act retroactively, and this is Warwick’s attempt at being about to keep their old breed discriminatory law.  Four of the 5 sponsors of the bills are located in Warwick, the fifth is from Providence.  Clearly city officials are asking for this from their representatives.

The bill has been assigned to the House Municipal Government Committee.

Warwick residents should reach out to their representative and ask them to pull the bill.  Be factual and polite, we have years of the failure of such laws to back up the opposition.

Rhode Island residents:  Please reach out to the committee, particularly if one of the members of the committee is your specific representative.  The state law was passed to protect the property rights of all residents of Rhode Island, not those residents who don’t live in Warwick.

rep-ackerman@rilin.state.ri.us
rep-amore@rilin.state.ri.us
rep-bennett@rilin.state.ri.us
rep-costantino@rilin.state.ri.us
rep-desimone@rilin.state.ri.us
rep-hearn@rilin.state.ri.us
rep-johnston@rilin.state.ri.us
rep-kazarian@rilin.state.ri.us
rep-lima@rilin.state.ri.us
rep-marshall@rilin.state.ri.us
rep-newberry@rilin.state.ri.us
rep-ogrady@rilin.state.ri.us

New Jersey S 1310 would end breed discrimination by insurance companies

A bill has been introduced in the New Jersey legislature that would end discriminatory practices by insurance companies in New Jersey.

S 1310 has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

There are several different aspects to this bill.

First, it states that, “An insurer shall not (1) refuse to issue, (2) cancel, or (3) non-renew a homeowners insurance policy solely on the basis of a dog harbored upon the insured property.”

Secondly, the bill does allow insurance companies to not cover the dog specifically in the policy.    “Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section, an insurer may offer or issue a homeowners insurance policy which contains an exclusion against covering any liability for a dog harbored upon the insured property.”  This means that people will be able to get coverage for their property, but may have to sign an exclusion for liabilities concerning the dog.

The last part of the bill states that companies are allowed to charge different rates for different dogs.  “...nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit an insurer’s use of underwriting guidelines, risk classifications, or other rules of any rating-system, as defined by section 1 of P.L.1944, c.27 (C.17:29A-1), which establish rates and premiums for that coverage on the basis of a dog harbored upon the insured property.”

These bills, traditionally, have been very difficult to pass because of the money and power that is behind the insurance lobby.  Insurance discrimination is an incredibly important issue, however.  It does not just effect home owners, but also effects renters.  Many landlords have policies against certain breeds and types of dogs because they cannot get coverage under their insurance policies to protect them, as the owner of the property.  This bill will not alleviate the problem completely, but it does provide a base line that will begin to address these issues.

Since this particular bill is so light on prohibitions on what an insurance company can do, the traditional backlash may be somewhat lessened.

New Jersey residents should reach out to support this bill.

You can contact your legislators via the states website.

Best Friends Animal Society has also set up a form, if you are having trouble with what to say.

South Dakota bill end prohibit breed discriminatory laws on the state level goes to the Governor

The South Dakota bill to prohibit breed discriminatory laws in the state, SB 75, passed the full House.

The vote was 41-28, for the bill.  SB 75 now moves to the Governor’s desk.  The Governor can either sign the bill or veto it.  If he signs it, the South Dakota will become the 18th state to outlaw breed discrimination on the state level.

This bill was passed through the process at an incredible speed.   SB 75 had its first reading on January 23rd.   The bill received a favorable vote by the Senate committee of 6-1 on January 31st and was moved to the full Senate.

The February 4th vote by the full Senate was very close.   The bill barely passed with 19 votes for and 16 against.  There was a lot of talk of opposition to the premise of the bill, but as we have seen in the past, there were some whose issue was states power versus municipal rights to self governance.

The bill comfortably passed the House committee on February 27th with a 10 to 3 vote for the bill to be moved to the full House.  On March 4th, the bill had its final House vote of 41-28.

The text of the bill is very simple.

Section 1. That chapter 40-34 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:   No local government, as defined in § 6-1-12, may enact, maintain, or enforce any ordinance, policy, resolution, or other enactment that is specific as to the breed or perceived breed of a dog. This section does not impair the right of any local government unit to enact, maintain, or enforce any form of regulation that applies to all dogs.”

It appears that this bill may nullify existing ordinances.  The fact that it specifics that a municipality may not maintain or enforce a breed discriminatory law points to a retro active application.

We will not know for sure until the bill is signed and applied.  Some times the language is too vague to really know the intent of the legislators until the issue of existing ordinance is raised after the bill comes into effect.

South Dakota residents should reach out the Governor Dennis Daugaard via the states website and ask that he sign SB 75 into law.