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