Now more than ever, being in the know about local and state legislation is essential for pet specialty retailers and others in the pet industry. However, understanding what is going around the country can also be beneficial.
In an effort to keep the industry abreast of recent and upcoming changes in legislation and regulations, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council—an organization that represents and advocates for the responsible pet industry, including but not limited to pet specialty retailers, companion animal suppliers, manufacturers, wholesale distributors and pet hobbyists—offers Pet Product News readers an update on current affairs.
As we previously reported here at Pet Product News, PIJAC is working closely with Hawaii’s fishing industry against Senate Bill 1240 and House Bill 1457. Both bills would institute a moratorium that would effectively ban commercial aquarium fishing under the auspices of repopulation, relying on cherry-picked data instead of data from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, which shows that the populations of several aquatic species have grown since 1999.
Perhaps in recognition of the harm, the Senate has amended its version of the bill so that the so-called moratorium will take effect in 2088. The House version directs the moratorium to take effect in 2030.
SB 1240 is expected to go to conference, where the House and Senate will try to agree to common language.
New Jersey legislators sent a bill to ban pet sales statewide to Governor Chris Christie on March 16. PIJAC and New Jersey state retailers have asked Governor Christie to veto this legislation, which would undermine the state’s existing consumer and pet protections. It would also implement a “three strikes” rule that could shut down ethical and law-abiding businesses. The bill barely passed the state’s Senate.
Florida’s herpetological community is working to improve Senate Bill 230, which passed the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources on March 22. As currently written, the bill spends $600,000 over two years on largely duplicative programs to eradicate invasive species, and requires pet dealers to implant a transponder device on certain species.
On March 13, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law Senate Bill 852, which protects ethical breeders and retailers, as well as a bill we mentioned last month that better protects dog owners when their pet is involved in a biting incident. Thanks to a state coalition that met with and educated legislators, Senate Bill 852 received unanimous bipartisan support in both the state House and Senate because of its improvement of standards for breeder requirements. The bill also clarifies an exemption for hobby breeders.
What’s Coming Up
In January, the Springfield, Mo., City Council considered repealing restrictions on pitbulls that have existed since 2006. That decision was delayed for 90 days, which means the issue is once again coming up in late April. PIJAC supported this effort to improve breed equality when it came up in January, and is doing so again. See Bober’s explanation at Huffington Post on why breed-specific legislation is neither science-based or effective public policy.
Arlington County, Va., is considering a ban on wild and exotic animals that erroneously includes snakes weighing more than 10 pounds, as well as sugar gliders. These arbitrary limits would create criminals out of pet owners and fine violators hundreds of dollars per offense. Local advocates, area herp experts and PIJAC are engaging to eliminate the snake provision prior to a June 17 hearing. We are confident that our good-faith conversations will continue to be productive.
Massachusetts lawmakers are considering House Bill 3544, which is getting new attention from state lawmakers. HB 3544 requires the certification of pet groomers through a new board the bill would create. Certification would come at a financial cost to the state’s groomers.
PIJAC opposes state licensing regimes for groomers—they are often unwieldy and ineffective at protecting consumers and pets because most regulators do not have the expertise to develop appropriate standards or oversee such a program. Furthermore, the grooming industry’s industry-developed standards, which have been in place since 2015 thanks to the Professional Pet Groomers and Stylists Association, have created high standards without government intervention.
The Maine legislature’s Joint Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee heard Senate Bill 321 on April 18. The bill deputizes animal shelters for animal cruelty, abandonment and euthanasia duties that are currently limited to public officials such as state veterinarians, sheriffs, animal control officers and other similar individuals. PIJAC opposes this bill because while animal shelters have an important role to play in the human-animal bond, they are not disinterested actors—which public officials should be. Many animal welfare and animal advocacy organizations have publicly vowed to close pet-related businesses, so giving them authority is inappropriate.
Robert Likins is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) vice president of government affairs. Since 1970, PIJAC has protected pets, pet owners and the pet industry—promoting responsible pet ownership and animal welfare, fostering environmental stewardship, and ensuring the availability of pets. PIJAC members include retailers, companion animal suppliers, manufacturers, wholesale distributors, manufacturers’ representatives, pet hobbyists, and other trade organizations.