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An Eye on Legislation


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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.

 

What’s Happened:

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was recently sent a bill that will benefit his state’s pet owners and responsible pet industry actors. House Bill 2381 started off strong and easily passed both chambers of the state legislature. The bill improves the process of identifying a dog as dangerous by requiring animal welfare officers to fully investigate dog bite incidents. Current law allows officers to assume guilt of the dog and the owner—if Governor McAuliffe signs House Bill 2381, animal control officers will need to gather evidence against both parties before presuming guilt.

 

Lawmakers delayed a hearing scheduled for March 8 regarding Illinois House Bill 2824, which sets statewide standards for the retail and breeder industries. Along with its sister legislation Senate Bill 1882, this bill will prevent localities from instituting pet sale bans, thus ensuring pet choice across Illinois. These bills will also guarantee that responsible pet retailers and breeders will have the opportunity to thrive. PIJAC supports this bill as a way of creating consistently high standards for the responsible pet industry, and to prevent localities from unfairly targeting retailers, breeders and others in the state.

 

Two bills to place a moratorium on aquarium fishing in Hawaii were amended and voted out of their respective chambers of the state assembly. H1457 and S1240 were both changed; S1240 in a way that requires legislation be based on sound science and H1457 to allow current fishing licenses to be renewed. Both of these bills will now be heard again. Regretfully, H1457 continues to have language extremely damaging to the aquarium trade and will require continued engagement.

 

Tennessee lawmakers in Senate and House committees recently passed two bills that pre-empt local pet sale bans, restrictions or regulations. Like Illinois’ bills, the Tennessee measures set statewide standards for retailers and breeders. House Bill 568 was amended by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on March 7 and awaits action by the House Local Government Committee. Senate Bill 519 was amended by the Senate Agriculture, Energy & Natural Resources Committee on March 6 and awaits action by the full Senate.

The bills were amended to exempt flea markets from the definition of “retail pet store” and to add “animals that are not bred or raised on the premises of the establishment” to the definition. A ban on pet sales or transfers to minors was also eliminated, and the pre-emption language was expanded to include counties, municipalities, governmental entities, and state or local governmental entities.

In addition to pre-emption, the bills allow a person who buys a pet that gets sick or it otherwise determined to be unfit for purchase to be reimbursed by the seller for veterinary costs. The determination must be made within 14 days of purchase and includes, but is not limited to, congenital malformation and contagious and infectious diseases.

 

What’s Coming Up:

A public hearing on a Canton, Ga. pet sale ban bill is scheduled for March 16. The ban’s language is not yet written, but as is frequently the case, the proposed ordinance is in search of a problem—there are no stores selling cats or dogs in the jurisdiction.

 

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is considering amending parts of the Pet Animal Care & Facilities Act. The amendments would add pet-sitting facilities to the list of organizations requiring licenses, though exceptions are allowed on a case-by-case basis if no disciplinary matters are pending.

Additionally, enclosure sizes for kittens, puppies, rabbits and ferrets are increased, and breeder telephone numbers are deleted from the disclosure provision. The comment deadline is March 29.

 

Kansas regulators are considering a change to the state’s facility inspection license and registration processes for imported animals and rescues and shelters statewide. The Department of Agriculture has proposed to add requirements for veterinary care, as well as various inspection, exercise, sanitation, and other standards for rescues and shelters.

The responsible pet industry is affected by other parts of the proposed regulations. U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed breeders and distributors are exempt from certain requirements, but all pet shops are restricted from selling reptiles unless they prominently post a notice about the safe reptile-handling practices. Additionally, pet stores are banned from selling viable turtle eggs or live turtles that have a carapace of less than four inches.

The comment deadline for these regulations is April 19.

 

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.

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