Final 2017 Legislative Update

Wrap-up of the year

The most significant changes to New Hampshire’s laws occurred at the end of the session.  The budget trailer bill included a major rewrite of RSA 437 -the “SALE OF PETS AND DISPOSITION OF UNCLAIMED ANIMALS ” law.

We have posted PDFs of the old version of RSA 437 and the new version.  Please download and read them.

Some of the changes to the law.

  • Shelters will no longer be required to have a microchip scanner nor will they have to check for identification when an unclaimed or abandoned animal is taken in. New Hampshire was a leader when this requirement was enacted.
  • “any person, firm, corporation, or other entity engaged in the business of transferring live animals or birds customarily used as household pets to the public, with or without a fee or donation required, and whether or not a physical facility is owned by the licensee in New Hampshire, when transfer to the final owner occurs within New Hampshire. is now defined as a Pet Vendor.  All pet vendors must be licensed by the state.
  • The exemption from licensing has been changed to only apply to The license provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to breeders of dogs that do not meet the definition of commercial kennel in RSA 437:1*, veterinarians, or the transfer of livestock or poultry.” * transfers 10 or more litters or 50 or more puppies in any 12-month period.
  • Health Certificates will no longer be sent to the State Veterinarian.
  • Licensees will no longer be inspected annually.

Possible Bills for Next Year

We have all heard about the New Hampshire Great Dane rescue that occurred this summer. Whatever we feel about it, we should all be prepared for the likelihood of several breeder unfriendly bills next year.  Two that are likely are a repeat of the “Cost of Care” (2015) bill which would require anyone accused of cruelty to pay the costs of caring for the animals before the trial.  If they can’t afford to pay the fees, they will lose ownership of the animals regardless of the outcome if trial.  A second bill which has been mentioned is to change the requirement for licensing so it is based on the number of intact bitches owned, not the number of litters produced. It will take the participation of a large number of responsible owners and breeders to defeat these bills.

So that you will understand what pet breeders and owners will be facing next year, I’ve included an op-ed in the Union Leader written by Lindsay Hamrick, New Hampshire state director for The Humane Society of the United States at the bottom of this post.

The Rest of the Wrap-up

Bills that were killed:

  • The most important bill we dealt with was HB 594establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty. This bill was opposed by DOGS.  The House Environment and Agriculture Committee unanimously voted it Inexpedient to Legislate.  The full House confirmed that vote.
  • HB 289allowing humane societies to place tourist oriented directional signs on the side of the road.
  • HB 483prohibiting the issuance of a summons or warrant for failure to license a dog.
  • HB 623-FNrelative to animals abandoned in the foreclosure process.

Bills that have been passed by the House and the Senate (and will probably become law).

  •  HB 290relative to rabies vaccination protocols for companion animals.
  • HB 291-FNremoving veterinarians from compliance with the controlled drug prescription health and safety program. This bill was amended by the Senate to require veterinarians to takes continuing education courses on pain management and prescribing pain medicines.

Laid on the table in the House

  •  HB 381relative to cruelty to non-captive wildlife. This bill could be pulled off the table at any point through the end of this session.

And Finally

It is with not a little regret that I would like to announce my resignation as President of Dog Owners of the Granite State.

When the New Hampshire budget trailer bill removed scanning for microchips this year, it reminded me that it was 20 years ago when a bill first added this requirement. That was the first time I had ever testified before a committee in Concord. Twenty years is a very long time and it is time for some new ideas.

I would be happy to talk with anyone who might be interested in becoming involved with DOGS and will be pleased to help my replacement however I can.

Thanks for reading.

Elin


From The New Hampshire Union Leader (and other papers)

July 05. 2017 8:41PM

Another View — Lindsay Hamric: Great Dane neglect could have been prevented

By LINDSAY HAMRIC

Remains of raw chicken parts strewn about. Feces smeared across the walls. Ammonia levels so high in some rooms you couldn’t help but tear up.

This is just some of the squalor responders with The Humane Society of the United States encountered when they entered a suspected puppy mill operating out of a 15,000-square-foot mansion in Wolfeboro to rescue 84 Great Danes that had been trapped inside.

The June 16 rescue, in collaboration with the Wolfeboro Police Department and representatives from the Conway Area Humane Society and the Pope Memorial SPCA, was as surprising as it was dramatic. The juxtaposition of a pricey neighborhood and a huge house packed with animals living in filth, without access to water or an adequate diet, reminds us that there are hard-hearted and troubled people everywhere, people who lose control and fall short of their animal care responsibilities.

This situation could have been alleviated much sooner or avoided altogether, if New Hampshire had stronger commercial dog breeding laws.

Currently, the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture only licenses breeders who sell at least 50 individual puppies or 10 litters in one year, allowing many high-volume breeders to escape regulatory oversight. If the state is to take the lessons from this case seriously, then it must work to prevent it from happening again by regulating all commercial breeders and holding them to strict standards of care.

The first step is to upgrade the Granite State’s commercial breeding regulations and shift to a system in which the number of breeding females at a facility, not the number of puppies sold, is the bar by which these operations are regulated. This will allow state officials to identify the need for registration and inspection on-site, rather than the lengthy process to track down paperwork. Next, the standards of care must be undated to improve the quality of life of the breeding dogs that spend their lives in these facilities.

The state must also allocate more resources to the Department of Agriculture to ensure adequate staffing to inspect and regulate commercial breeders, like our neighbors in Maine, which allocates more resources to the regulation and protection of companion animals.

The HSUS, which is absorbing 100 percent of the costs to rehabilitate and care for the 84 Great Danes, many of which have infections, open sores and cuts, and other health problems, through the duration of the criminal investigation, expects costs to reach the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This case is not an anomaly. Recently, Live and Let Live Farm in Chichester assisted the Deering Police Department in the rescue of four horses. Live and Let Live Farm will now take on the expense of bringing four horses back from the brink of death. But why must taxpayers and nonprofit organizations cover these costs at all?

Under current law, the costs to care for animals in investigations rests with the town in which the neglect occurs. In this case, Wolfeboro and its taxpayers. Since New Hampshire towns can’t possibly cover tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenses required to care for animals in cases like these, humane organizations are placed in the difficult position of absorbing the costs to care for them or make the agonizing decision to not intervene.

Caring for animals seized in a cruelty case presents a unique challenge in our criminal justice system. New Hampshire lawmakers could learn from other states that have enacted a comprehensive cost of animal care law to protect the rights of defendants and ensure costs do not fall to taxpayers and non-profit animal welfare agencies. Responsibility for costs associated with caring for animals seized in a cruelty investigation should fall on the person responsible for the crisis.

We need not reinvent the wheel on either issue. The Governor’s Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals is already charged with finding solutions to the exorbitant costs to care for animals in cruelty cases and to promote legislation to ensure the safety and welfare of domestic animals in the Granite State.

We are calling on New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, whose track record for animal welfare has been strong in his first year, to work up a new legal framework to require stronger breeding standards, to cover more large-scale breeders, and to place the burden of costs on these individuals when the animal care situations they create spiral out of control.

Lindsay Hamrick is the New Hampshire state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

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Legislative Update #6

Quick Catch-up

PASSED

HB 290 – relative to rabies vaccination protocols for companion animals.

STATUS: Amended and passed by the House.  Awaiting a hearing in the Senate.

DOGS POSITION: Support

HB 291-FN – removing veterinarians from compliance with the controlled drug prescription health and safety program.

STATUS: Amended and passed by the House.  Awaiting a hearing in the Senate.

DOGS POSITION: Neutral – updates for informational purposes.

TABLED

HB 381-FN – relative to cruelty to non-captive wildlife.

STATUS: Tables by the House.

DOGS POSITION: Neutral – updates for informational purposes.

KILLED (Inexpedient to legislate)

HB 594 – establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty

STATUS: Hearing on Feb.14, 2017, Room 303 Legislative Office Building, 1 p.m.

DOGS POSITION: Opposed

BUDGET (HB2) UPDATE

DOGS sent a letter to the House Finance Committee opposing the changes to RSA 437 contained in HB 2. One of our members attended and testified at the public hearing on HB2. Hopefully, the House Finance Committee has listened to our concerns. Meanwhile, please keep those cards and letters coming. And call your local Reps asking that they let the finance committee know they are opposed.  Thanks.

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ALERT – NH BUDGET BILL MAKES CHANGES TO PET SALES LAW!!

HB 2 is known as the Budget Trailer bill.  In it, the legislature makes changes to the law to allow for changes in the budget.  This year, the Department of Agriculture submitted the following request for changes to the RSA 437.

Our only chance for public input is on Monday at 3p.m. in Representative’s Hall of the State House. Everyone affected by the budget  will be attending and testifying so it will be hard to present a case against the changes.

We need for all of you and all your friends, your club members, etc. to write and call the members of the House Finance Committee Division I  as well as the members of the full Finance Committee and tell them you oppose the rewrite of the RSA 437 as included in HB2, Sections 11 and 12.   A simple short letter or postcard will do.  Something along the lines of:

As a (dog or cat) owner I oppose the changes being made to RSA 437 – Transfer of Animals and Birds in HB 2, Section 11 and 12 (pages 5 – 10) .

If you like, you can add one of the changes mentioned below. Please remember to copy your own representatives.  You can find their names, addresses and phone numbers here –http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx

Because it is a total rewrite, one doesn’t have the normal cues, such bold italics, to tell one what is new.

We found four major changes: 

  1. It adds this policy to statute and removes animal health in and of itself or consumer protection as a reason for regulation.
     437:2 Declaration of Policy. This subdivision establishes standards for the regulation of animal health that are consistent with the pattern established throughout statute by the general court. Animal health regulation shall focus either on those conditions that pose a threat to public health or that would require regulatory intervention to protect the economy of the state, or both.
  2. There would be no requirement for the Department to do an initial inspection of the premises before issuing a license to pet vendors and any future inspections by the Department would be complaint driven.
  3. It adds feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus to the  exceptions for transferring sick animals.  According to Cornell Veterinary College, feline leukemia is contagious between cats; it is the most common cause of cancer in cats; and the median survival time for cats after FeLV is diagnosed is 2.5 years.  (http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/brochure_felv.cfm )
  4. It removes the requirement that a copy of the health certificate be sent to the state vet’s office. So there will be no way to determine the number of cats and dogs sold in NH or if someone is selling large enough numbers to require a state license.

There are other changes such as the addition of voluntary microchips  to the health certificate, it provides no exception for hobby cat breeders, it leaves enforcement to local authorities which will produce inconsistent enforcement though out the state, and removes brokers from having to be licensed.

The health certificate section is a mess.  For example,  at one point, it refers to “dog, car, or ferret”  It says that  a copy of the health certificate shall be given to the transferee upon transfer as provided in paragraph II” but paragraph II is about animal shelters being exempt from giving health certificates. (more…)

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2017 Legislative Update #5

On Thursday, February 16, the NH House will vote on five of the bills we have been following. Three of the five were voted Inexpedient to Legislate by their respective committees.  Two are Ought to Pass as amended.  See our Update section for more details.

There is only one hearing this week. HB 594 – establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty.  It is best if you call or write the legislators. The committee’s name in the Upcoming Hearing section is linked to their web page which has a link to email the entire committee.  Remember to copy your representatives. You can find their addresses here.

Also, at the end of this newsletter, is the mail addresses for the Environment and Agriculture Committee.  It only takes a postcard to write each member and say you oppose HB594 as unnecessary and burden to law enforcement (or use whatever reason you feel comfortable with) and ask that they kill it.   Include your name and town at the end.

In the House, emails are not considered part of the permanent record.  Please remember to copy DOGS (dogs.nh@gmail.com) on your emails so we can bring a hard copy to the hearing.

****Upcoming Hearings****

 

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2017

The House Environment and Agriculture Committee, Room 303, Legislative Office Building

  • 1:00 p.m. HB 594 – establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty.

****Updates on Bills which have had hearings****

HB 289, allowing humane societies to place tourist oriented directional signs on the side of the road.

STATUS: House Environment & Agriculture Committee recommendation: Inexpedient to Legislate. Consent Calendar.

HOUSE CALENDAR: Rep. Richard Gordon for Environment and Agriculture. Directional signs are governed by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. This bill’s intent is to direct motorists to animal shelters in hopes of spur of the moment purchases by motorists of animals. This would be in conflict with current Department of Transportation regulations both on the state and federal level. It was pointed out at the public hearing that in this age of GPS devices and smart phones, anyone who may have an interest in visiting shelters can easily find them using such electronic devices. Finally, not passing this bill will keep us in compliance with the statutes that control outdoor advertising.Vote 18-0.

DOGS POSITION: Support the committee recommendation.


HB 290, relative to rabies vaccination protocols for companion animals.

STATUS: House Environment & Agriculture Committee recommendation: Ought to Pass with Amendment. (#2017-0144h). Consent Calendar.

HOUSE CALENDAR: Rep. Barbara Comtois for Environment and Agriculture. This is a housekeeping bill to bring New Hampshire into compliance with the national rabies protocols set by the National Association of Public Health Veterinarians’ “Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2016.” Vote 18-0.  The amendment makes a technical correction.

DOGS POSITION: Support the committee recommendation.


HB 291-FN, removing veterinarians from compliance with the controlled drug prescription health and safety program.

STATUS: House Environment & Agriculture Committee recommendation: Ought to Pass with Amendment. (#2017-0321h). Consent Calendar.

HOUSE CALENDAR: Rep. Howard Pearl for Environment and Agriculture. The committee believes that while the opioid crisis in New Hampshire is a serious issue, requiring veterinarians to query the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) database is problematic and an excessive regulatory burden that may create potential Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations. This bill, as amended, will remove responsibility from the veterinarian to query for prescribing and dispensing opioids to patients and requires the Board of Veterinary Medicine to implement rules for pain management plans and continuing education focused on opioid use and prescribing practices. Veterinarians will still be required to register with the PDMP and report when they dispense a 48 hour or greater supply of opioids. Vote 17-0.

DOGS POSITION: WATCH 


HB 381-FNrelative to cruelty to non-captive wildlife.

STATUS: House Fish and Game and Marine Resources recommendation: Inexpedient to Legislate

HOUSE CALENDAR: Rep. James Spillane for the Majority of Fish and Game and Marine Resources. This bill is problematic as written with too many things to fix and it would not make sense to try amending it. The committee heard testimony that the felony-level penalties were also problematic. The Department of Fish and Game already has the ability to charge under existing statute.Vote 12-9.

Rep. Richard McNamara for the Minority of Fish and Game and Marine Resources. The minority of the committee feels that this issue, cruelty to non-captive animals, should be addressed this year. Having heard several hours of testimony for and against the bill as written, all who spoke were in agreement that the content of this bill should be addressed. Though the minority made an ought to pass recommendation, its true intention is to have the bill recommitted to the committee for further study.

DOGS POSITION: Watch


HB 623-FN – relative to animals abandoned in the foreclosure process

STATUS: House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee recommendation: Inexpedient to Legislate. Consent Calendar.

HOUSE CALENDAR: Rep. Michael Costable for Commerce and Consumer Affairs. This bill establishes criminal charges for owners of animals abandoned at a foreclosure. Animals are considered personal property. During a foreclosure personal property may not be touched for seven days. This has created issues regarding the removal of abandoned animals. While the committee acknowledges that there is a problem, criminal charges did not seem appropriate. The vote for Inexpedient to Legislate was unanimous. The sponsor also agreed to work to find a more appropriate solution. Vote 21-0.

DOGS POSITION: Support the committee recommendation.  We hope to be able to work with the sponsor to find a solution.

****Bills of Interest****

HB 594 – establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty

STATUS: Hearing on Feb.14, 2017, Room 303 Legislative Office Building, 1 p.m.

DOGS POSITION: Opposed

This bill would create a public registry, similar to the sex offenders registry, of all people convicted of animal cruelty.  Anyone, convicted in another state, is required to register within 10 days of moving to NH. HB 594 is a duplicate of the 2011 bill, HB526, which the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted Inexpedient to Legislate by a 15-0 vote.  From the 2011 House Calendar:

This bill, if passed, would be a drain on the financial and personal resources of the state and in particular the department of safety (DOS).   This bill would require a substantial financial investment funded by taxpayers and cause added expenses to local police departments and law enforcement agencies.  There is no evidence that such a registry is necessary and in fact law enforcement officials already have resources from which they can determine prior records of arrest and conviction of any person, in the state, or out of state.  Vote 15-0.

 

DOGS is opposed to the present bill for the following reasons:

  • It includes both misdemeanor and felony convictions rather than concentrating on egregious cases
  • Many animal cruelty cases in NH involve animal hoarders. Hoarding is a recognized mental illness and these people need treatment not public shaming and ostracizing.
  • Registries are expensive to create and costly to maintain. Please see the Fiscal Note at the end of the bill for the estimated costs including the design and maintenance of the list.  These costs would fall on New Hampshire taxpayers.
  • This registry would remove any incentive for someone accused of animal cruelty to entertain a plea bargain increasing costs for towns, shelters, and the taxpayers.   
O’Connor John 13 Arrowhead Road Derry NH 03038-3715
Gordon Richard 4 Burnt Swamp Road East Kingston NH 03827-2102
Bixby Peter 69 Glenwood Avenue Dover NH 03820-2305
Turcotte Alan 3 High Ridge Trail Allenstown NH 03275-2128
Darrow Stephen 463 Slab City Road Grafton NH 03240-3831
Khan Aboul 3 Greenleaf Drive Seabrook NH 03874-4045
Scruton Matthew 195 Ten Rod Road Rochester NH 03867-4246
Comtois Barbara PO Box 186 Center Barnstead NH 03225-0186
Copp Anne 41 Sheldon Road Danbury NH 03230-4833
Dyer Caleb 122 Old Bridge Street Pelham NH 03076-5705
Maloney Michael PO Box 45 Gilmanton NH 03237-0045
Pearl Howard 409 Loudon Ridge Road Loudon NH 03307-1708
Verville Kevin 9 McCarron Road Deerfield NH 03037-1729
Francese Paula 6 Granite Street Exeter NH 03833-3128
Ellis Donna 488 Portland Street Rochester NH 03867-2424
Fenton Donovan 6 Kendall Road Keene NH 03431-5212
Frost Sherry 103 Mast Road Dover NH 03820-4452
Gourgue Amanda 61 Thompson Mill Road Lee NH 03861-4420
Richards Beth 3 Willard Street Concord NH 03303-3509
Sofikitis Catherine 54 Marshall Street Nashua NH 03060-4622
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2017 Legislative Update #4

There is only one bill this week. HB 594 – establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty. 

It is best if you call or write the legislators. The committee’s name in the Upcoming Hearing section is linked to their web page which has a link to email the entire committee.  Remember to copy your representatives. You can find their addresses here.

Also, at the end of this newsletter, is the mail addresses for the Environment and Agriculture Committee.  It only takes a postcard to write each member and say you oppose HB594 as unnecessary and burden to law enforcement (or use whatever reason you feel comfortable with)  and ask that they kill it.   Include your name and town at the end.

 In the House, emails are not considered part of the permanent record.  Please remember to copy DOGS (dogs.nh@gmail.com) on your emails so we can bring a hard copy to the hearing.

 

***Upcoming Hearings***

 

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2017

The House Environment and Agriculture Committee, Room 303, Legislative Office Building

  • 1:00 p.m. HB 594 – establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty.

 

Bills of Interest

HB 594 – establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty

STATUS: Hearing on Feb.14, 2017, Room 303 Legislative Office Building, 1 p.m. (more…)

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