April 11 – Continued Hearing on SB569

The House Environment and Agriculture Committee will continue the hearing on SB 569 –  relative to animal cruelty and establishing a commission to study certain language applicable to the transfer of animals on   04/11/2018 at 9:00 AM    Legislative Office Building Room 201-203. 

Please try and attend. Even if you can’t stay for the whole hearing, you can still sign in as opposed.

Report on the April 4th hearing –

The hearing on the 4th went from 10 am until 3 with a break for lunch.  Many thanks to all the dog breeders and owners who came into testify against the bill.  They did a great job of bringing up their concerns with the bill. The NH Farm Bureau testified against SB569 while the the NH Veterinary Medical Association said: “While Senate Bill 569 is well intentioned, its new regulations won’t protect animals from harm and doesn’t stop people from hoarding pets. Expanding the definition of commercial breeder and mandating more inspections of pet vendors by the Department of Agriculture will not stop individuals who are already breaking existing statues,” http://nhpr.org/post/concerns-raised-over-dog-breeding-bill-drafted-after-wolfeboro-animal-cruelty-case

The people who testified in opposition had many reasons for their concerns.  The vagueness of the wording of the definition of breeding female, allowing a member of the general public to inspect a licensees records, the difficulty the average dog breeder, who is not doing it as a business, would have in meeting the requirements of Ag. rules 1700, to the unfairness of the cost of care bond which the average person would not be able to afford so they would lose their animals even if they were found innocent in the criminal trial.
 
Unfortunately, not everyone was able to testify, so the hearing will be continued on Wednesday, April 11th starting at 9:00 am in room 201-2013 of the Legislative Office building.  I know it is hard to come because many people have to work, but please try to stop in to sign in opposed SB 569. And keep making those calls, and sending those letters and emails to the members of the committee.  As always be polite and remember your purpose is educate the reps that, although SB569 might sound good, it will have real life consequences for animal owners.

One person even included a pop quiz for the committee – pictures of 6 dogs asking if they could identify the ones who were intact.
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April 4th hearing for SB569

The House Environment and Agriculture Committee will hold it hearing on SB 569 –  relative to animal cruelty and establishing a commission to study certain language applicable to the transfer of animals on   04/04/2018 at 10:00 AM    Legislative Office Building Room 301-303. 

Please try and attend. Even if you can’t stay for the whole hearing, you can still sign in as opposed.

 

D.O.G.S. is opposed to SB 569 for the following reasons:

  • This bill requires someone who owns 7 or more “Breeding Females” over the age of 2 to be licensed as a commercial kennel. Additionally, it says that any unspayed female who has had a litter shall be counted as a “Breeding Female” forever even if the owner has no plans ever to breed her again.
  • The requirement to license as a commercial kennel is not based on any sales of dogs or puppies having taken place Other New England states require the sale of animals as a necessary part of a commercial license.
  • Although the bill states that ” The term “commercial” shall not be taken into consideration for any zoning purposes.” This statement in the bill does not guarantee that the towns will treat a hobby breeder as non-commercial. Many N.H. towns have zoning requirements for “Kennels” and owners required to be licensed as a “Commercial Kennel” will be affected by these zoning requirements and may be forced to move or get rid of their dogs.
  • If multiple numbers of animals, particularly large animals such as dogs and horses are confiscated, the actual cost of care will be substantial. People, who cannot afford to post a bond will lose their animals before the criminal case is concluded – even if found innocent.
  • Although a homeowner who owns dogs may not sell dogs to the public, the owner’s home  still would be required to be open to anyone to inspect that owner’s records. This bill is an invasion of privacy.
  • The person who has had their animals confiscated would need to defend two different court cases; a criminal case for the cruelty charges and the cost of care bonding case incurring additional attorneys fees.  An owner could lose the bonding case and still be found NOT guilty in the criminal case.
  • Inadequately trained enforcement officials can easily mistake and have in the past an ill animal that is under veterinary care as a cruelty situation and mistakenly confiscate them forcing the owner to defend themselves in two trials while leaving the animal untreated.

 

What you can do:

Contact the House Environment & Agriculture Committee and politely state your opposition to SB 569-FN. This committee is comprised of 18 Representatives and they all need to hear from you. Please make a polite phone call to each member of the committee. Representatives receive thousands of emails and yours may not be read prior to the vote, so Calls and letters are the most effective way to ensure your voice is heard.

Representative John O’Connor, Chairman (Rockingham- District 06)
13 Arrowhead Road
Derry, NH  03038-3715
Phone: (603)434-8393
Email: john.o’connor@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Stephen Darrow, Vice Chairman (Grafton- District 17)
463 Slab City Road
Grafton, NH  03240-3831
Phone: (603)523-4678
Email: stephen.darrow@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Peter Bixby, Committee Clerk (Strafford- District 17)
69 Glenwood Avenue
Dover, NH  03820-2305
Phone: (603)749-5659
EmailPeter.Bixby@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Richard Gordon (Rockingham- District 35)
4 Burnt Swamp Road
East Kingston, NH  03827-2102
Phone: (603)642-7252
Email: dick.gordon@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Barbara Comtois (Belknap- District 07)
PO Box 186
Center Barnstead, NH  03225-0186
Phone: (603)776-8989
Email: Barbara.Comtois@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Kevin Verville (Rockingham- District 02)
9 McCarron Road
Deerfield, NH  03037-1729
Phone: (603)247-9005
Email: kevin.verville@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Donna Ellis (Strafford- District 08)
488 Portland Street
Rochester, NH  03867-2424
Phone: (603)332-5266
Email: donna.ellis@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Beth Richards (Merrimack- District 13)
3 Willard Street
Concord, NH  03303-3509
Phone: (603)219-0038
Email: bethrichardsforward3@gmail.com

Representative Aboul Khan (Rockingham- District 20)
3 Greenleaf Drive
Seabrook, NH  03874-4045
Phone: (603)474-1496

Representative Anne Copp (Merrimack- District 01)
41 Sheldon Road
Danbury, NH  03230-4833
Phone: (603)425-8646
Email: Anne.copp@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Paula Francese (Rockingham- District 18)
6 Granite Street
Exeter, NH  03833-3128
Phone: (603)778-1726
Email: Paula.Francese@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Sherry Frost (Stafford- District 16)
103 Mast Road
Dover, NH  03820-4452
Phone: (978)255-3924
Email: Sherry.Frost@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Catherine Sofikitis (Hillsborough- District 34)
54 Marshall Street
Nashua, NH  03060-4622
Phone: (603)465-8163
Emailcatherine4Ward7@gmail.com

Representative Matthew Scruton (Strafford- District 12)
195 Ten Rod Road
Rochester, NH  03867-4246
Phone: (603)941-4956
Email: Matthew.Scruton@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Howard Pearl (Merrimack- District 26)
409 Loudon Ridge Road
Loudon, NH  03307-1708
Phone: (603)231-1482
EmailHoward.Pearl@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Alan Turcotte (Merrimack- District 22)
3 High Ridge Trail
Allenstown, NH  03275-2128
Phone: (603)485-2349
Email: alanturcotte4rep@gmail.com

Representative Amanda Gourgue (Strafford- District 25)
61 Thompson Mill Road
Lee, NH  03861-4420
Phone: (603)397-0505
Email: Amanda.Gourgue@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Caleb Dyer (Hillsborough- District 37)
122 Old Bridge Street
Pelham, NH  03076-5705
Phone: (603)417-0897
Email: cqdyer@gmail.com

Then follow-up with an email thanking them for talking with you.  The entire committee may be contacted by emailing HouseEnvironmentandAgricultureCommittee@leg.state.nh.us.

In your email:
Subject Line: OPPOSE SB 569-FN: Relative to Animal Cruelty

Dear Chairman O’Connor and Honorable Members of the House Environment & Agriculture Committee

Pick one or two reasons for opposing SB569 and put them in your own words.

Be sure to include your name and your town.

 

And THANK YOU.

 

 

 

 

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Oppose NH Senate Bill 569 flier

 

While we wait for the House hearing on SB569, there is something you can do.  Print up some of these Oppose NH Senate Bill 569  fliers and pass them out to your friends, post them in feed stores, at your vets, at pet day care facilities and training facilities or anyplace where they are likely to be seen by pet owners and breeders.  Just make sure to get the owner’s permission first.

High quality copies are available for download at these links: 

(pdf) https://www.dropbox.com/s/ixwx9toz7btduul/SenateBillFlyer_NH..pdf?dl=0

(jgp) https://www.dropbox.com/s/xi434ps1r0wg6iq/SenateBillFlyer_NH.jpg?dl=0

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March 2018 Legislation Update

Here’s an update on the legislation we’ve been following:

Passed the House and now in the Senate

HB 1309: AN ACT relative to transferring dogs, cats, and ferrets by animal shelter facilities.

From the House Calendar: Rep. Richard Gordon for Environment and Agriculture. This is a housekeeping bill to correct an omission that occurred during the re-write of RSA 437 (Sale of Pets) during the 2017-2018 budget process. The bill adds back the requirement that all shelter facilities have on premises a microchip scanner and shall maintain a file of recognized pet retrieval agencies.

Next Step: HB 1309 has been assigned to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

 

HB 1238: AN ACT  relative to animal cruelty involving an equine colt.

From the House Calendar: Rep. Peter Bixby for Environment and Agriculture. The original bill sought to make those accused of animal cruelty, although not convicted, pay for the upkeep cost of confiscated animals based on an obsolete animal cruelty statute. The amendment replaces the entire bill and turns it into a housekeeping bill that eliminates this outdated statute that only pertains to colts less than 90 days old and moves the colt cruelty provisions into the modern animal cruelty statute under the Criminal Code, thereby making its enforcement and penalties consistent with other sorts of negligent cruelty.

Next Step: HB 1238 has been assigned to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Passed the Senate and now heads to the House

SB 569: AN ACT relative to animal cruelty and establishing a commission to study certain language applicable to the transfer of animals.

This passed the Senate on March 22 with several amendments. One raised the age of a “Breeding Female” to 2 years and a second changed the number of “Breeding Females” to 7 before  the owner has to get a commercial kennel license.  It also requires the town clerks to send the number of Group Licenses issued to the Department of Agriculture by June 1st.  The “Cost of Care” section is still there although judges are now allowed to consider the owners income when setting the bond amount.

Next Step: SB 569 will go the House and be assigned to a committee.

Interim Study

HB 1385: AN ACT establishing a committee to study animal welfare in New Hampshire.

From the House Calendar: Rep. Stephen Darrow for Environment and Agriculture. This bill would create a committee of legislators to review and study animal welfare. Currently, there are other animal welfare bills making their way through the General Court with provisions that conflict with each. In addition, the Governor has convened his Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals which is actively discussing the subject and have noted additional deficiencies within the animal statutes that are not currently being address. Due to the uncertainty of each respective outcome, the committee felt that Interim Study would be the best course of action in order to better define its objectives.

 

HB 1342: AN ACT relative to live trapping of wild rabbits and hares by sporting clubs.

From the House Calendar: Rep. James Spillane for Fish and Game and Marine Resources. During testimony in committee, it was determined that the Fish and Game Department is working with the state clubs to expand the live trapping of hares state-wide through the Fish and Game Commission. Interim study is the appropriate action to be taken while we see how the commission handles the issue. The committee will make recommendation, if needed.

 

Inexpedient to Legislate

HB 1231-FN-LOCAL: AN ACT relative to dog licenses. 

From the House Calendar:  Rep. Richard Gordon for Environment and Agriculture.This bill would have raised by $0.50 the dog license fee for seniors, those 65 years or older. The increase was requested solely by one town clerk who thought that the currently discounted dog license fee for seniors set in statute causes his or her office to receive $0.50 less of the normal $1 administrative fee for processing dog licenses. Since this is not true, the fee for seniors does not need to be raised.

 

HB 1394: AN ACT relative to animals in motor vehicles. 

From the House Calendar: Rep. Dennis Fields for Criminal Justice and Public Safety. The majority of the committee feels this bill creates a liability problem. If a person cannot find the owner and the vehicle is locked and the animal in the vehicle cannot be removed by assistance not arriving in time or if a person or owner of the vehicle is not found, it could be a liability for anyone other than an authorized law enforcement or animal control officer to remove the animal. If anyone breaks in to remove the animal, the animal could get away and also could hurt someone. Who would be responsible for liability if someone else is injured? While this bill is well intentioned, the current law seems to be adequate.

 

HB 1414-FN: AN ACT relative to forfeiture fees regarding dog licenses.

From the House Calendar:  Rep. James Belanger for Municipal and County Government. This bill changes the time to pay the town or city clerk for a $25.00 fine for failure to license a dog after notice of a violation from 15 days to 45 days. No testimony was received to identify a problem with the current 15 day limit and no abuses were identified. The committee didn’t feel any action to change current statute, which hasn’t changed since 2001, was needed.

 

HB 1723-FN : AN ACT relative to the reckless beating of animals.

From the House Calendar: Rep. Anne Copp for Environment and Agriculture. This bill has unintended consequences with grave results by making it a felony for an individual to cause the death of an animal through negligence, even for a first offense, or to cause harm to an animal unknowingly. Other bills were introduced this session that may better address this important issue, in particular, one that is now working its way through the Senate.

 

Laid on the Table


HB 1412-FN: AN ACT relative to cruelty to non-captive wildlife.

From the House Calendar: Rep. James Spillane for the Majority of Fish and Game and Marine Resources.The committee heard testimony from the public on this bill, which included many sportsmen’s groups, landowners, and animal activists. Although the minority of the committee believes that New Hampshire is one of a handful of states that do not have laws protecting its wild animals, the majority of the committee was unable to verify this information. The majority also reviewed RSA 644:8 (Cruelty to Animals), and it appears to address the cruel treatment of animals. The minority submitted an amendment and then withdrew that amendment. The majority still has many concerns with this bill such as not adequately distinguishing between captive and non-captive. For example, is a fish in a live well captive or is a chipmunk in a have a heart trap captive? The Fish and Game Department testified in writing that “this proposal would cloud, rather than clarify the manner of take.” The agency goes on to say that “this proposal is conceptually flawed , and is not capable of repair.” For these reasons the majority would ask that it be given more time so that these concerns, along with any others, can be thoroughly studied and vetted to eliminate the possibility of unintended consequences to the homeowners, landowners and sportsmen of New Hampshire.Vote 12-7.

Rep. Ellen Read for the Minority of Fish and Game and Marine Resources.  The minority of the committee strongly believes that there are instances of cruelty to wildlife in New Hampshire, and that such cruelty should be illegal as it is virtually nationwide. The committee did not have the opportunity to vote on suggested changes to the bill, prepared by the Fish and Game Department, that would simplify this bill and ensure that all normal and otherwise legal activities, including hunting, fishing, trapping, and pest management, would be exempt from its provisions. We believe that this issue does not need further study, and that the department’s language is the solution that satisfies all stakeholders’ interests. In the event the majority’s recommendation is overturned, the minority intends to offer an amendment based on the department’s suggestions.

 

 

 

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Committee Recommendations (House Record February 2, 2018)

HB 1231-FN-LOCAL, relative to dog licenses. INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.

Rep. Richard Gordon for Environment and Agriculture. This bill would have raised by $0.50 the dog license fee for seniors, those 65 years or older. The increase was requested solely by one town clerk who thought that the currently discounted dog license fee for seniors set in statute causes his or her office to receive $0.50 less of the normal $1 administrative fee for processing dog licenses. Since this is not true, the fee for seniors does not need to be raised.  Vote 13-0.

 

HB 1723-FN,  relative to the reckless beating of animals.  INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.

Rep. Anne Copp for Environment and Agriculture. This bill has unintended consequences with grave results by making it a felony for an individual to cause the death of an animal through negligence, even for a first offense, or to cause harm to an animal unknowingly. Other bills were introduced this session that may better address this important issue, in particular, one that is now working its way through the Senate.

Vote 13-0.

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