|2013 - 2014 Legislative Session in Review||Top Notch Reviews for the 2014 Top2Top Conference|
|Focus on Reptile Legislation|
|In Memory of Neill Hines||Education News|
2013 – 2014 Legislative Session in Review
PIJAC has tracked 1,426 pieces of legislation so far for the 2013-2014 legislative session. Issue topics, with the number of states that introduced legislation are below, along with a summary piece of legislation as an example of the bills handled this session.
Breeder/Kennel—37 States + Congress
Legislation providing for inspections, standards of care, recordkeeping, licensing, and penalties.
Hawaii House Bill 233 - Establishes licensing requirements and minimum standards of care for commercial dog breeders. Contains provision that a person may not own, maintain, or otherwise have custody or control of more than fifty (50) dogs with intact sexual organs over the age of six months at any time. Final Result – Bill failed to meet Hawaii Legislature’s crossover deadline and died in committee.
Pet Dealer/Groomer—30 States + Congress
Legislation providing for inspections, standards of care, licensing, sourcing, recordkeeping, consumer warranties and penalties.
Virginia Senate Bill 228 - This bill would have extended the return or reimbursement period for a customer re-turning a diseased dog or cat purchased from a pet deal-er from 10 to 20 days. In addition, it would have provid-ed that reimbursement for veterinary fees may be up to and including two (2) times the purchase price. The bill also required a dealer to provide an animal history cer-tificate when the consumer takes possession of a dog or cat and incorporates information on the refund provision into the text of the required notice document. The bill requires certain dealers to record and post certain infor-mation about the breeder of each animal. The bill was amended to return the reimbursement period back to 10 days and veterinary fees up to the original purchase price. Final Result- Bill signed by the Governor.
Fees/Surcharges—36 States + Congress
Legislation providing for breeder and pet dealer licensing fees, pet food manufacturer licensing & registration fees, and groomer fees. (Some fees are deposited in State spay-neuter funds.)
Florida House Bill 1213 - Creates the "Pets' Trust Act". Pro-vides that each county may, by ordinance, create an inde-pendent special district to provide funding for pet services and advocacy programs throughout the county. The gov-erning board of the district shall be a council on pet services and advocacy programs, which shall be known as the Pets' Trust of the county in which the council is located. The council shall be established by the county commission and shall consist of 14 members appointed by the commission. The county commission shall obtain approval at referendum to annually levy ad valorem taxes, not to exceed the maxi-mum millage rate authorized by this section. At least 60 percent but not more than 70 percent of the council's reve-nue must be used for the types of spay and neuter pro-grams listed in this subparagraph in each of the first 3 years of the council's existence, or until shelter deaths reach one-half the volume of the current state average, whichever period is longer. Additionally, the council shall allocate a portion of the remaining revenue to pet retention, surren-der prevention, adoption, and animal welfare education programs for both children and adults. Final Result – Bill died in Committee as the Florida Legislature adjourned its 2014 session.
Exotic/Dangerous Wild Animals—29 States + Congress
Legislation providing for regulation/permits/ban of exotic or dangerous wild animals.
Iowa Senate Bill 236 - Amends Code Chapter 717F, which regulates the ownership or possession of dangerous wild animals -including venomous snakes and certain constric-tors (pythons and anacondas). A person is prohibited from owning or possessing such an animal or transporting the animal into this state (Code Section 717F.3). Requires the Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship to, upon complaint, conduct an inspection of the premises or inves-tigate the practices of a registrant licensed by the USDA. It also provides that if the dangerous wild animal is kept in a zoo, that zoo must also be accredited or certified by the AZA. Allows a person no longer qualifying for the exemp-tion on the bill's effective date to retain possession of the animal subject to the same restrictions as a person who had possession of such animal on July 1, 2007. Final Result – Bill died in Committee as the Iowa Legislature adjourned its 2013-14 session.
Dangerous Dog/Breed-Specific—23 States
Legislation providing for dangerous/vicious dog defini-tions, licensing, penalties and liability. Legislation which allows or prohibits breed-specific dog laws.
South Dakota Senate Bill 75 - Provides that no local gov-ernment 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. Final Result – Bill signed by Governor.
Reptiles/Amphibians—27 States + Congress
Legislation providing for regulation/permits/ban/standards of care/housing of reptiles and amphibians.
California Assembly Bill 339 - Makes it a crime to willfully sell or give away as part of a commercial transaction a live animal, at a swap meet or to willfully display or offer for sale, or display or offer to give away as part of a com-mercial transaction, a live animal, if the act of selling to giving the live animal is to occur at a swap meet. (Amended to exempt reptile and aquatic shows, as well as local jurisdictions which have adopted ordinances al-lowing the sale of live animals). Final Result – Bill signed by Governor.
Animal Abuse Registries—21 States
Legislation establishing state registries of convicted animal abusers. Some bills mandate pet dealers/animal shelters to check registry before sale/adoption of animals. Provides for penalties.
Maryland Senate Bill 912 - Requires the Department of Pub-lic Safety and Correctional Services to establish the Mary-land Animal Abuse Registry. Requires a person convicted of specified crimes involving animal cruelty to register with the County Sheriff for a specified period in a specified man-ner. Requires an animal shelter, pet store, or animal breed-er to determine whether the name and address of a person seeking to purchase or adopt an animal appears on the reg-istry and prohibits them from knowingly offering, selling, delivering, giving, or providing an animal to a person regis-tered on the registry. Penalties for a violation of this Act are a fine not exceeding $500 for the first offense and a fine not exceeding $5,000 for a second or subsequent offense. Final Result – Bill died in Committee when Maryland Gen-eral Assembly adjourned its 2014 session.
Humane Society/SPCA/Animal Rights—21 States
Legislation providing for the involvement of humane groups in animal control, animal facility inspections, search and seizure and education curriculum.
Arkansas Senate Bill 13 - Provides legal protection to ani-mal owners and their animals and to ensure that only law enforcement agencies investigate charges of animal cruel-ty. Final Result – Bill signed by Governor.
Aquatics/Marine Life—12 States + Congress
Legislation regulating marine life (ornamental/aquarium fish), genetically engineered fish and corals.
Hawaii House Bill 108 - Establishes prohibitions, penalties, and fines for knowingly selling aquatic life for aquarium pur-poses taken from waters within the jurisdiction of the State; requires an aquarium permit to take marine or freshwater non-game fish and other aquatic life for aquarium purposes; imposes new standards for aquarium permit issuance deter-minations; prohibits the sale or offering for sale of aquatic life taken under an aquarium fish permit. Final Result – Bill failed to meet Hawaii Legislature’s crossover deadline and died in committee.
Endangered Species—11 States + Congress
Legislation providing for listing/de-listing and penalties for possession of non-game endangered wildlife.
Mississippi House Bill 1000 - Amends section 49-5-115, Mis-sissippi Code of 1972, to permit law enforcement officers or agents of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks to search and seize any wildlife, records or property used in violation of the non-game and endangered species conser-vation act; removes the discretion granted to the commis-sion to direct the transfer of seized wildlife to a qualified institution. Final Result – Bill voted down in Committee.
Retail Pet Sale Bans—10 States
Local ordinances banning the retail sale of pets (mostly dogs and cats) in city or county limits. Issue has spread to statewide legislation.
Chicago, Illinois Ordinance 2014-1282 - Adds new Section 015 to regulate retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits. Provides that a pet shop, retail business or other commercial estab-lishment may display, sell, deliver, offer for sale or adoption, barter, auction, give away, or otherwise dispose of cats, dogs or rabbits in the City only when those cats, dogs or rabbits are obtained from: (i) an animal control center; (ii) and ani-mal care facility, kennel, pound or training facility, in each case, operated by any subdivision of local, state or federal government; or (iii) a private, charitable, nonprofit humane society or animal rescue organization. Final Result – Ordi-nance adopted by City Council.
Avian—10 States + Congress
Legislation providing for standards of care, health certifi-cates, and permits for certain avian species.
New Hampshire House Bill 1367 - Relates to the sale of birds. Re-exempts birds from certain provisions (health certificate requirement) regarding the sale and transfer of animals. Final Result – Bill signed into law by Gover-nor.
Invasive Species—6 States + Congress
Legislation regulating possession of invasive animals and plants; some of which could be in the pet trade.
Alaska House Bill 344 - Prohibits the importation of, sale of, purchase of, or release into the water of the state of certain invasive aquatic plant species. In-cludes Elodea canadensis (a plant used in some aquari-ums). Final Result – Bill died in Committee on adjourn-ment of Alaska’s 2013-14 legislative session.
Non-Economic Damages/Liability—5 States
Legislation providing for compensatory and punitive damages for the wrongful death of a companion animal.
Vermont House Bill 342 - Relates to recovering noneco-nomic damages for an intentional killing of a pet. Pro-vides that a person who commits the crime of cruelty to animals, as described in subdivision 352(1) of this title, by intentionally killing a pet belonging to another per-son without first obtaining legal authority or consent of the owner shall be liable to the deceased pet's owner for noneconomic damages for emotional distress re-sulting from the loss of the reasonably expected com-panionship, love, and affection of the pet. Final Result – Bill died in Committee.
The post-event survey results are in! From networking opportunities and informative speaker
sessions to the conference’s overall value for individual businesses and the industry as a whole,
just about every attendee gave the 3rd annual Top2Top Conference rave reviews.
The Top2Top attendees had this to say:
Reptile breeders, retailers and keepers have faced a mixed bag of new legislation at the state level this year. While several states have considered laws restricting the sale and possession of “dangerous” or “exotic” animals, others are taking steps to make existing regulations more herp-friendly. By working with allies like USARK and reactivating our Herp Committee, PIJAC is focused on making sure our members are well-represented and informed so they can take action.
On March 21, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed the “Dangerous Wild Animals Act” into law. This act establishes a three person panel made up of representatives from the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Resources, and Natural Resources that is tasked with the creation and enforcement of a list of prohibited animals within the state. PIJAC has reached out to the three board members to express our concerns regarding the inclusion of constrictors and venomous snakes in the legislation as animals that the list “may include” and to offer our expertise as they proceed with their charge.
Two other states, South Carolina and Louisiana, introduced bills that would prohibit the possession or sale of snakes and other reptiles. In South Carolina, House Bill 3985 was slated for a hearing by the Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. PIJAC submitted testimony in opposition to the “Dangerous Wild Animals Act,” but the bill was removed from the committee’s calendar and was not considered. In Louisiana, snake owners are currently required to obtain permits for certain species of snakes they possess that reach eight feet or greater in length. Senate Bill 357 would prohibit the possession of these snakes at any size and, because some of them are listed as injurious under the Lacey Act and cannot be transported across state lines, would require their euthanasia. With both legislatures scheduled to adjourn during the first week of June and no hearings scheduled for either of them, these bills are likely dead.
Not all legislation affecting the herp community this year was harmful, however. In Illinois, Senate Bill 902 is racing the clock to gain final passage in the Senate before the General Assembly adjourns at the end of May. The “Herptiles-Herps Act,” as amended, would allow for some species that are currently not permitted to be kept with permits. It would also remove the current 15-foot restriction on constrictor snakes and would create a new category of “special use herptiles” that would allow for their possession under certain conditions. PIJAC has joined USARK and others within the herp community in supporting passage of SB 902. In Ohio, we are currently monitoring an effort to amend the standards of care for snakes currently prescribed in state law to make them clearer and easier for enthusiasts and breeders alike to follow. We will be supporting this amendment upon its introduction.
In both Illinois and Ohio, we’ve benefitted from positive working relationships with legislators and administrators that have been developed over the years by PIJAC members and others from within the reptile-keeping community. This shows the continued need to be developing those relationships at all time, as well as the need to work in concert with allies who have their own networks of contacts. To that end, PIJAC has engaged in a strategic partnership with USARK this legislative session, whereby we share information on herp-relevant bills obtained through our legislative tracking system so that they can better inform their membership.
Additionally, as a direct result of conversations that took place at this year’s Pet Industry Top2Top Conference, we are reactivating our Herp Committee with Board Members John Mack and Phil Goss heading up this standing group of reptile breeders, retailers and keepers that will advise our Legislative Committee on bills and regulations of concern to them.
Success in Connecticut and Illinois but Threats Expand Across the Country
For over a year PIJAC lead the fight in Connecticut to prevent the passage of a statewide ban on the sale of dogs and cats. We are happy to report after a protracted, contentious battle that featured hours of public testimony and tense negotiations, the pet industry prevailed allowing pet stores to continue selling dogs and cats. A compromise was struck, that although not perfect, proved to be acceptable to Connecticut legislators. And most importantly it was a compromise that would not force the closure of our pet stores. The legislation that passed focused on ensuring that pet stores source their puppies from responsible breeders.
Specifically Public Act 14-77 requires:
- No pet store shall purchase a dog or cat for resale from a breeder that does not have a current United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) license;
- Pet stores cannot use breeders who have committed a direct violation of USDA regulations during the two year period prior to purchase;
- Pet stores cannot use breeders who have committed three or more indirect violations provided they pertain to the health or welfare of the animal and are not administrative in nature.
When PIJAC first engaged in Connecticut one-half of the House of Representatives were on record in favor of a pet store sales ban. In fact there was a unanimous conclusion of both Houses of the Legislature that there was a need to fully examine the sale of cats and dogs from “inhumane origins at Connecticut pet shops.” It looked ominous. Activists had the upper hand.
How did we stop the activists from putting our pet stores out of business? PIJAC secured a seat at the table, serving on the Legislature appointed Task Force that debated what recommendations were submitted to the Connecticut Legislature. Store owners, their employees and their friends showed up to testify in numbers that matched the activists. Grassroots input to legislators from the stores and their customers was generated on an ongoing basis. We matched opponents’ media coverage and often neutralized the misperceptions that opposition attempted to spread via the press. We engaged in intense direct lobbying with most of the stores and their personnel actively participated in these efforts. And we had a secret weapon in PIJAC’s Connecticut Board Member, Peach Reid, who was tireless in her advocacy at the State Capitol, showing up week after week to convince legislators one-on-one.
It was indeed a team effort. But what really helped was the issue played out over a year. As a rule, the more pet sale bans can be debated, the more likely activists’ inaccurate claims can be publicly vetted. Simply put, time provides an opportunity to mount an effective defense. But when there is a rush to judgment, a ban proposal proves difficult to stop.
In Illinois there was a rush to pass a ban. In the waning weeks of this year’s legislative session, the Governor, Pat Quinn, decided he wanted to stop puppy pet sales statewide as a follow-up to the recent enactment of bans in the city of Chicago and Cook County. When a Governor invests his political capital to pass legislation, especially when his party controls both Houses of the State Legislature, it is extraordinarily difficult to stop.
PIJAC hired in-state lobbyists, created radio ads and helped organize grass-roots contacts with legislators generating over 500 contacts. Activists tried three different amendments before finally admitting defeat, however, it could have easily gone the other way.
Thankfully, the Governor’s poll numbers are poor and he faces a tough re-election campaign in the fall. Had his approval rating been higher the industry might not have been so fortunate. The only certainty coming out of our success this year is the activists plan on redoubling their efforts next year to pass a ban. PIJAC intends on remaining fully engaged through the summer and fall to help seed a more favorable environment before our industry’s opponents strike again.
Fifty-four bans are now in place encompassing locales in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and Texas. Most ban the sale of dogs and cats, but now we are even witnessing bans on all animals including reptiles, small mammals and even fish. Thankfully about 40% of the municipalities that imposed bans had no pet stores to begin with, but more bans are on the way in towns and cities that have pet stores. Fifteen proposals are pending. Almost every week a new proposal surfaces.
There is no end in sight. Activists are taking more sophisticated approaches to enacting bans or legislation that produces the same net effect – closing our pet stores. Where before activists were settling on small jurisdictions, their aims have expanded exponentially, now targeting counties, large cities and even entire states. The industry’s opponents are actively fundraising to commit more resources to enacting bans or de facto bans that only allow the sale of shelter or rescue animals.
Unless the pet industry starts funding legislative campaigns that employ more extensive outreach elements: paid advertising, earned media, grassroots advocacy, direct lobbying, reputable third-party research and social media outreach it will get worse. The industry’s opponents are not only spending more on pet sale ban initiatives, but they are also creatively engineering new and improved approaches that will gain traction with lawmakers. It is incumbent upon the pet industry to ratchet up its efforts concomitantly, providing the resources to mount legislative campaigns or the victories in Connecticut and Illinois will be short lived.
Neill Hines, a 29-year veteran of the garden and pet businesses, passed away on January 17, 2014. He is survived by his wife Patti, four children and five grandchildren.
Neill entered the garden and pet business world in 1985 while working for the Weyerhaeuser Company, from which he retired in July 1990 following 20 years of service. He joined Central Garden Supply, which is now known as Central Garden & Pet Company as their Vice President of Finance where he spent 14 years. Neill was a valued business partner to Central’s CEO, Bill Brown and President, Glenn Novotny, and a key member of the executive leadership team. With Neill’s help, the company expanded its garden and pet presence across the United States through a series of acquisitions as well as organic business growth. Even though Neill spent several years in an operational role reshaping Central’s Garden Business, his passion was for the Pet Business where he led Pet Distribution and acted as a mentor to most of the manufacturing business unit Presidents. While Neill retired from Central Garden & Pet in 2000, he continued to participate in the area in which he loved, pet businesses. He served on the PIJAC Board of Directors from 1998—2005, and as PIJAC Chairman from 2003—2005. He also provided consulting project support to Central. Neill co-founded Furhaven Pet Products (pet beds and accessories) in 2004 with his friend, Eric Heilborn.
During his career, Neill became friends with many business people with whom he came in contact, including manufacturers, distributors and retailers. He had a particularly strong friendship with Harvey Solway, formerly Pet Supplies Plus, CEO. Harvey, Eric and Neill had many adventurous fishing trips over the years. All who knew Neill recognized that while he could be soft-spoken, he possessed unquestionable competence, exceptional ethics, and was a caring leader. He was always reliable, thoughtful, resourceful, and effective in his own quiet way. He could calm the “waters of dissent” and get people to work together no matter how difficult the challenge.
Neill will be remembered and appreciated for his friendship, kindness, leadership, commitment and loyalty. He was a true friend to so many and will be greatly missed.
Congratulations to the following individuals who recently completed their PIJAC Avian Care Specialist exams!