2015 NH Legislation Summary Report

During the 2015 NH Legislative Session, DOGS identified 13 bills that would impact ownership, breeding, training and working with dogs and other animals. Again, this year, numerous members of DOGS responded to our “Calls to Action” in the email newsletters or on our Facebook page. The efforts of DOGS’ members made a difference in the outcome of several bills.  Our members testified at public hearings, contacted legislators and shared DOGS legislative information with local clubs and colleagues. DOGS’ legislative advocacy program is made possible by contributions from our members and local dog and cat clubs. We are grateful for the continuing support of the Granite State Shetland Sheepdog Club of South East New Hampshire, the Lakes Region Kennel Club, Merrimack Valley Kennel Club, the Newfoundland Club of New England, and the Souhegan Kennel Club (links can be found on our Supporters page).

This year’s most challenging bill was HB 624 championed by the Human Society of the United States (HSUS).  In criminal cases when an animal(s) is confiscated due to animal cruelty charges, HB 624 set up a pre-trial process whereby a civil court might order the owner of the confiscated animal(s) to post a bond to cover the cost of caring for the animal(s) during disposition of the criminal charge. If the owner was unable to post the bond, they would lose ownership of the animals in question.  There was no mechanism for the money to be returned to the owner if the charges were dropped or the criminal trial resulted in a finding of innocence.  DOGS enlisted the New Hampshire American Civil Liberties Union, AKC, the NH Mushers Association and several of our members to testify in opposition at the public hearing.  HSUS maintained that animal shelters and municipalities are often burdened with the high cost of care for animals during the disposition of the criminal case. But, no municipality appeared in support of the bill. The House Environment & Agriculture Committee recommended that the bill be killed in an 18-0 vote.

DOGS appreciates the tireless work of Representatives Jan Gardner, Bob Haefner, and Tara Sad who supported our concerns.  DOGS is grateful for the House Environment & Agriculture Committee’s commitment to protecting the interests of animal owners and the safety and health of animals.  The final dispositions of the major bills that DOGS was involved with are summarized below. Continue reading

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See you next fall

Other than keeping a general eye on things, most of DOGS work is done for the year. There will be a final newsletter published when the legislature adjourns for the summer.

To stay in touch, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

If you can, please donate to help DOGS.  Other than paying our legislative consultant, Yvonne, DOGS is a totally volunteer organization. You can give using Paypal through the DONATE button on the sidebar or, if you prefer, mail a check to:

DOGS
PO Box 175
Acworth, NH 03601

Please contribute!  We can’t do this without your help.

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Seacoast Cat Club’s Annual Show – May 2-3

Fun, affordable and a fantastic day for a family outing: That’s what the Seacoast Cat Club show is all about!

agility_logoSeacoast Cat Club, an affiliate club of The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), is holding its annual show at the Everett Arena, 15 Loudon Road, Concord, New Hampshire, 03301, on May 2-3, 2015. The show will run both days of the weekend. If you drop by either day at any time, you will find something of interest.

Herding cats? May not be possible. Persuade cats to run through an obstacle course of tunnels, steps, hoops, and then weave their way through a line of poles? This can be done. CFA agility_tonkRingmaster Jill Archibald, a breeder from New Jersey, will direct this part of the show. The competition, an important part of the show, is open to all cats in the show, both pedigreed and household pets. If you come only to watch, the Ringmaster will let you run one of her Egyptian Maus or Bobtails through the course.

We will also have “Pet Me” cats that will be available to be petted and pampered by those who’d like to handle them. There are no “Do Not Touch” signs on these cages. People are encouraged to come and pet and enjoy these well-socialized cats. Some are household pets who have been retired from the show circuit; others are retired pedigreed cats who enjoy being back in the show hall. Please come and enjoy their purrs!

In addition to the actual judging, there will be vendors, a Kids’ Table, including free Face Painting, a raffle, a chance to vote for your favorite cat to win Spectators’ Choice, a used book sale and a breed presentation on Sunday.

The breed presentation, scheduled for Sunday at 12:00 noon, will be an open forum where spectators are encouraged to ask questions and learn about the personalities of the breeds presented. Unlike the judging rings where spectators watch, the breed presentation encourages people to ask the judge whatever questions might be on their minds: about breeds and their personalities, about the show itself, about anything cat- related!
Before the breed presentation on Sunday, youngsters may choose to participate in the Stuffed Animal Contest. This will be held at 11:30 a.m. in one of the judging rings. Though kids may bring their own stuffed animals, there will be several stuffed animals available for kids to choose from “to show.” The judge will judge the stuffed animal and engage the child in asking why this one is their favorite. Prizes will be given to those who participate. If coming with a child who would like to participate, let the person at the
entrance know this when you check in.

There will be a concession stand for snacks and lunch as well as the Paws Awhile Café where your lunch can be eaten in a quiet area before returning to the show.

As Seacoast has done in the past, we are offering $1.00 off admission if you bring cat food that will be donated to the Manchester Animal Shelter, or a food donation for the NH Food Bank. You can also find a $1.00-off coupon on our website. There is just one discount per person.

For more information, you may also want to visit our website: www.seacoastcatclub.org Look for us (and Like us) on Facebook and Twitter. Additional information about shows can be found on the CFA website: www.cfa.org We hope to see you in Concord, NH, on May 2/3 2015.

Admission: $6.00 Adults $4.00 Children under 12 and Seniors Show times: Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Sunday:    8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Seacoast Cat Club Marilyn Conde, Secretary 978-531-2158 naumkeag@verizon.net

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2015 – Legislative Update #7

NH Biennial Budget Bill HB 2:
This week, some provisions in the proposed state budget (HB 2) caught our attention. One seems like a good idea but another may increase costs for those who train or hunt with dogs. A third adds late fees to licensing of commercial kennels and shelters.

A new position of Assistant State Veterinarian is proposed. This could be a welcome addition since the NH State Veterinarian is overwhelmed by administrative duties and field work.

HB 2 appears to propose some changes in how fees are set. Section 34 of HB 2 repeals the $9.50 fee for a permit to conduct a field trial and allows the Executive Director the Fish & Game Commission Executive Director to set the fee; and Section 33 repeals the $5 fee for a bear dog training permit and allows the Executive Director to set the fee. It is doubtful that the new fees will be less than those being repealed. HB2 does not require that the fees be based on any specific criteria.  

In addition, HB 2 allows rules to be established for the levying of late fees on commercial kennels, pet shops, animal brokers, and animal shelters that are required to be licensed (RSA 437:1). There is no guidance provided in HB 2 for how this late fee would be set.

If you are concerned about these changes, DOGS urges you to write the House Finance Committee at   HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us@leg.state.nh.us (please cc DOGS at Yvonne ) or attend the upcoming public hearings:
House Finance Public Hearings
Monday, March 9, 2015
Kennett High School, 409 Eagles Way, Conway,  (6PM)
Derry Town Hall, 14 Manning St, Derry, (5PM)
 
HB 624: Cost of Care bond when animals are seized pending disposition of animal cruelty charges.
Status: House Environment & Agriculture Committee voted 18-0 for the Inexpedient to Legislate recommendation. House floor vote expected on March 12th.
Committee’s report: This bill takes away a citizen’s right to due process of law, and presumes guilt prior to a hearing. It allows for seizure of an owner’s animals and requires them to post an animal care bond or other security prior to any conviction of animal cruelty. Current law already requires proof of financial accountability for those who have been convicted of cruelty and had their animals lawfully seized. During testimony, the ACLU stated ‘that the poor in New Hampshire who own pets would be far more likely to forfeit their animals given the inability to post bond.’ In addition, the ACLU noted a federal court decision (Louisville Kennel Club, Inc. v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Gov’t) stating ‘that mandating permanent forfeiture for failing to timely post a bond, without finding of guilt, has been rejected for violating procedural due process,’ holding that the portion of the law that would permanently deprive a pet owner of his property, absent a finding of guilt, is unconstitutional.
Action Needed:  Send thank you email to members of the HouseEnvironmentandAgricultureCommittee@leg.state.nh.us for recommending the bill Inexpedient to Legislate.  We expect that the committee recommendation will be upheld on the House floor.

HB 661: Requiring Shelters to Annually Report Animal Intake, Care & Disposition Data
Status: House Executive Departments Committee is retaining the bill for further study over the summer. Public hearing conducted 2/17/15.
DOGS Position: DOGS Supports HB 661. The bill requires nonprofit animal shelters to annually file information about the animals accepted (including imported), their care and disposition. Due to the increasing numbers of dogs being imported into the state, this bill is essential to track potential public health threats from imported animals.

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HB624 in the House Calendar

From the House Calendar – . “This bill takes away a citizen’s right to due process of law, and presumes guilt prior to a hearing. It allows for seizure of an owner’s animals and requires them to post an animal care bond or other security prior to any conviction of animal cruelty. Current law already requires proof of financial accountability for those who have been convicted of cruelty and had their animals lawfully seized. During testimony, the ACLU stated ‘that the poor in New Hampshire who own pets would be far more likely to forfeit their animals given the inability to post bond.’ In addition, the ACLU noted a federal court decision (Louisville Kennel Club, Inc. v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Gov’t) stating ‘that mandating permanent forfeiture for failing to timely post a bond, without finding of guilt, has been rejected for violating procedural due process,’ holding that the portion of the law that would permanently deprive a pet owner of his property, absent a finding of guilt, is unconstitutional. Vote 18-0.

The full House vote is on Wednesday.

Please remember to thank the members of of the House Environment and Agriculture committee: HouseEnvironmentandAgricultureCommittee@leg.state.nh.us

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