2015 – Legislative Update – #3

UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
HB 241: Prohibiting a driver from holding an animal while operating a vehicle.
               11:30am, Room 203 LOB, House Transportation Committee

HB 290: Relative to acceptance of the risk in outdoor recreational activities.
               10:00am, Room 208 LOB, House Judiciary Committee

Thursday, January 29, 2015
HB 363: Declaring May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month in NH.
               1:30pm, Room 306 LOB, House Executive Departments Committee

UPDATE – SB 15
At the public hearing on SB 15, three supporters cited several instances where dogs (leashed and unleashed) have attacked or distracted service dogs, and the service dog/owner were injured (mentally and/or physically).  It seems that local law enforcement are reluctant to use  the state law that requires owners to have dogs under control at all times  (RSA 466:30) as an enforcement tool.  Local law enforcement are unaware, or reluctant to enforce the new law making it a misdemeanor to willfully cause injury to a service dog (RSA 167-D:10). Supporters maintain that SB 15 is necessary to prevent attacks on service dogs, especially in towns that do not have leash laws.
Two DOGS representatives did their best to convince Senators that the bill is unnecessary and unreasonable (see points in SB 15 summary below), citing current law and 4 letters from our members.

Overall, Senators on the committee were attentive to the fact that laws are on the books requiring owners to control their dog and fining those who willfully cause injury to a service dog.  They questioned whether local law enforcement has the ability to use these laws. They seemed concerned about the bill’s impact on sporting activities, competitive events, dog parks and dogs working with livestock. But, they are concerned about the safety of the disabled person and their service dog.

There is still time to weigh in with a note to senators why this bill should be recommended Inexpediant to Legislate.  The Senate Public and Municipal Committee will vote a recommendation on the bill within the next two weeks (time unknown).

 
2015 NH Legislative Listing

SB 15 - Requiring owners of companion animals to leash such animals in the proximity of a service dog.  Failure to leash will be a misdemeanor.  
Status:  Awaiting Committee vote in Senate Public & Municipal Affairs Committee.  Public Hearing on 1/21.
DOGS Position:  OPPOSE.

N.H. RSA 167-D:10 makes it a misdemeanor if “a person willfully causes physical injury to a service animal or willfully allows his or her animal to cause physical injury to a service animal.”  Surely that should be enough without adding this additional burden on dog (and cat) owners.
The bill is vague and overbroad.  For example, what is the definition of “companion animal?”  Is it just dogs or would cats be required to be put on a leash?  RSA 161-F:30 Companion Animals defines animals as “common domesticated household animals limited to: dogs, cats, caged birds, and aquarium fish.”

What is the definition of “proximity?” Service dogs are not required to wear any identification. There is no way for a dog owner to know whether a dog walking on the sidewalk is a service dog or not. This bill would criminalize a dog’s owner for allowing his dog to be unleashed in his own front yard if a service dog were to pass by.
There are many activities, open to the public, in which unleashed dogs take part. These include hunting field trials, obedience competitions, lure coursing, agility and sheepdog trials.  Again, the question is, would the participants be penalized if a service dog or service dog in training were to attend one of the activities?

People using hunting dogs or livestock guarding dogs or training dogs for these activities are legally allowed to have their dogs off-lead.  This bill could create a conflict in the law.
 
 HB 241 - Prohibiting a driver from holding an animal while operating a vehicle. The fine for this violation is $100.   
Status: Public hearing in House Transportation Committee on 1/27 at 11:30am.
DOGS Position: Monitor and provide information.  While DOGS maintains that people should not drive with animals on their laps, the negligent driving law seems to already cover this issue.  Current law (RSA 265:79-b) makes driving negligently or in a manner that endangers any person or property a violation of not less than $250 for the first offense.
 
HB 290 –  Relative to acceptance of risk in outdoor recreational activities Seeks to provide clarification in law so that persons who engage in outdoor recreational activities accept the dangers inherent in such activities and shall not take legal action against a landowner who allows access to their property. It adds a paragraph to the Duty of Care statute stating an assumption of risk for outdoor recreational users of lands.
Status: Public hearing on 1/27 in House Judiciary Committee.
DOGS Position: Monitoring.  
 
HB 363Proclaims May as Lyme Disease awareness month.
Requires the Department of Health and Human Services to include awareness information on its website.
Status: Public hearing on 1/27 in House Judiciary Committee.
DOGS Position: Support increasing awareness for humans and companion animals.

SB 222Relative to harassment of hunting, fishing, or trapping by using air-borne drones.
Status: Awaiting public hearing date in Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. DOGS Position: Monitoring.

 

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January 21 – SB 15 Senate Public Hearing Summary

January 21 – SB 15 Senate Public Hearing Summary
Requiring leashing companion animals in the proximity of a service dog

At the public hearing, 3 supporters cited several instances where dogs (leashed and unleashed) have attacked or distracted service dogs and the service dog/owner were injured (mentally and/or physically). Many towns do not have leash laws and local law enforcement are reluctant to use the state law that requires owners to have dogs under control at all times as an enforcement tool.

Local law enforcement are unaware, or reluctant to enforce the new law making it a misdemeanor to willfully cause injury to a service dog and requires restitution. SB 15 is intended to prevent attacks on service dogs, especially for towns that do not have leash laws – the new restitution law doesn’t prevent attacks, this proposed law will.

Two DOGS representatives did their best to convince Senators that the bill is unnecessary and unreasonable, citing current law and 4 letters sent in from members.

Overall, Senators on the committee were attentive to the fact that laws are on the books requiring owners to control their dog and fining those who willfully cause injury to a service dog. They questioned whether local law enforcement has the ability to use these laws. They seemed concerned about the bill’s impact on sporting activities, competitive events, dog parks and dogs working with livestock. They seemed to understand that a service dog may not be identifiable. But, they are concerned about the safety of the disabled person and their service dog.

There is still time to weigh in with a note to senators why this bill is unreasonable and unnecessary. Please copy yln@comcast.net (DOGS Legislative Coordinator) on the letters as well as any response. The Public and Municipal Affairs Committee will vote a recommendation on the bill within the next two weeks (time unknown).

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ALERT: PUBLIC HEARING ON SB 15

ALERT: PUBLIC HEARING ON SB 15

Wed., January 21 at 9am in Room 102 LOB

SB15 requires owners of companion animals to leash such animals in the presence of a service dog. Failure to do so is a violation.

DOGS is requesting that you attend the hearing or write the Senators to oppose this bill.

DOGS is concerned about the requirement to leash one’s animal in the presence of a service animal. If in an area where dogs are commonly found off lead, such as an “off-leash” pet recreation area or during a competition event, the service dog owner should not have an expectation that other pets will be on lead.

In advance of the hearing, please send your comments to the Senate Public and Municipal Committee’s Aide: Jennifer Horgan at jennifer.horgan@leg.state.nh.us  It can be in a letter to: Dear Senators on the Public and Municipal Affairs Committee. The addresses and emails for the Senate Committee members is available at http://nhdogs.org/legislation/legislative-committees/senate-public-and-municipal-affairs/

AND please copy yln@comcast.net (DOGS Legislative Coordinator) on the letters as well as any response. If you cannot attend the public hearing on the bill, we can read your letter at the hearing.

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2015 – Legislative Update – #1

As the content of the 2015 bills becomes available, we expect to be adding more bills.   At this time, we are waiting for the bills to issue. Here is an overview of what information we have at this time.

Please note, the LSR # is not the bill number – it’s the drafting request number. Also, when bills numbers are noted (HBxx or SBxx), we have embedded a hyperlink that will get you to a copy of the bill. Hyperlinks are embedded in Committee names to access legislative committee members’ contact information.  We hope this will encourage you to proactively reach out to legislators and when doing so make sure to “cc” yln@comcast.net.  If you need help contacting or writing to legislators, contact Yvonne at yln@comcast.net.  

SB 15 – Requiring owners of companion animals to leash such animals in the presence of a service dog.  Failure to leash will be a misdemeanor. Sponsor: Sen. John Reagan. Status:  Awaiting scheduling of public hearing in Senate Public & Municipal Affairs Committee.
 
LSR 322 – Relative to the cost of animal care in cruelty cases. Sponsor: Rep. Efstathia Booras.
We anticipate that this bill will be our biggest challenge.  We understand that it was brought forth at the request of HSUS.  If animals are seized under the animal cruelty statute, a judge would determine whether the animal(s)’ owner would be required to post a bond to cover the cost of care during the disposition of the cruelty charges.

This new process raises several questions and concerns. We are concerned that the costs could be prohibitive for owners of multiple animals. If the owners cannot afford to post bond, would they be forced to relinquish their animal(s). What would happen if the owner is subsequently found innocent or the charges were dismissed? Can low income individuals obtain free legal counsel for the bond hearing? Should the owner be found not guilty, would a refund be forthcoming?
Current NH law requires that if one is convicted of animal cruelty, then they must pay reimbursement for the costs of caring for the animals involved.  This seems to be a fair and equitable way to deal with the costs.  Similar legislation has been proposed and enacted in other states.  We urge you to start thinking about the implications of this bill and alert others.  More details will be forthcoming in the next DOGS Legislative Newsletter.
 
LSR 673 – Relative to recordkeeping for sold or transferred animals. Sponsor: Rep. Jan Gardner.  We understand that Rep. Gardner’s bill will be similar to a bill that DOGS supported in 2014.
 
LSR 139 – Prohibiting driving while holding an animal in the driver’s seat. Sponsor: Rep. Herbert Richardson.
  Continue reading

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Upcoming Therapy Dog training class

therapyClasses start Saturday, Jan. 24th at 2:00, and will be held at No Monkey Business dog training on 141 Old Turnpike Rd., Concord, NH.  The cost is $150, and the classes run for 5 weeks.

Classes are taught by a certified Therapy Dogs International   evaluator with  over 25 years therapy2experience training and working with dogs.  We will be covering the exercises that are on the test, practical applications of real life situations, and  therapy dog etiquette.  There is no required prerequisite, but basic obedience is recommended.   Anyone who would like to pre-register or has any questions can contact Kathy at 529-0756.

therapy1

 

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