Legislative bills that could impact pet specialty retailers and pet lovers are brewing in California, Massachusetts and Maine.
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.
- On Feb. 14, San Francisco passed a ban on the sales of cats and dogs. Like similar bans across the nation, it requires pet shops to source cats and dogs from animal rescue or care facilities. Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor and face up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. The law goes into effect on May 30.
- PIJAC is opposing an Illinois bill introduced on Feb. 10 that exempts animal welfare groups from registering with the state’s attorney general. The bill, H 3668, likewise exempts these same groups from filing reports on their activities. PIJAC opposes this bill because transparency is critical to the human-animal bond so that people get the best pet for their needs. Furthermore, transparency allows for facts and data to be more seriously considered by regulators and legislators.
- In Hawaii, the Senate Water and Land Committee passed SB 1240 on Feb. 16. PIJAC and fishermen in Hawaii opposed the original version of the bill because it acted as a de facto ban on aquarium fishing licenses, and would have shut down much of the responsible fishing in the state. Furthermore, its stated goals of repopulating several fish species was based upon selected data, not a full picture shown by the state’s own Department of Land and Natural Resources.
What's Coming Up:
- In California, Assembly Bill 485 was introduced on Feb. 13. The bill currently promotes dog and cat adoptions from shelters and rescues and supports ethical practices in the pet retail industry. However, PIJAC believes this will soon morph into a bill to ban pet sales state-wide. We urge all retailers, breeders, and manufacturers to be prepared to contact legislators to urge them to protect pet choice and small businesses.
- The Massachusetts Senate is expected to see the introduction of a bill to not allow insurance companies to consider the breed of a dog when issuing homeowner’s insurance. PIJAC expects to support this bill as part of our effort to eliminate breed-specific discrimination, which helps neither dogs nor humans, and can harm dogs that unfairly receive the “dangerous” distinction.
- Maine legislators introduced S 91 on Jan. 31, and scheduled it for a hearing on Feb. 28. The bill will require a permit to import, receive or possess exotic wildlife in the state. PIJAC is examining the bill and its potential repercussions, as the definition of “wildlife” could make the bill very harmful to the responsible pet industry. The definition of “exotic wildlife” is defined as any fish or wildlife that is not native to Maine. The version that passed the committee requires the Department of Natural Resources to propose legislation between now and late 2018 to define “sustainable,” as well as recommend a policy for sustainable collection of fish and limits on the total number of species and sustainable collection rates.
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.