SB 569 – relative to animal cruelty killed

After three meetings in three days, the conference committee, consisting of three senators and four representatives, was unable to reach an agreement and SB 569 – relative to animal cruelty will not become law.

First, a big thank you to everyone who came to Concord to testify or just sign in opposed to the senate version of SB 569 as well as those who wrote and called about the bill.  You did a wonderful job explaining the concerns of people who raise dogs as an avocation, not as a commercial enterprise.

The House Environment and Agriculture Committee spent long hours working on the bill and their efforts produced a bill we could support. The House version a clear and easily enforceable definition of who should hold a state license as a commercial breeder – recognizing the difference between private citizens who own dogs and participate in the many wonderful dog activities held in our State, and commercial kennels whose primary focus is breeding animals for sale.

The House Environment and Agriculture Chair John O’Connor and Representatives Howard Pearl, Stephen Darrow, and Peter Bixby served on the Conference Committee. They were determined to protect the non-commercial hobby breeder and we are grateful.


Another piece of good news – thanks to Rep. Steven Smith who sponsored HB 1309 in response to our request, all animal shelters in New Hampshire will once again check lost pets for microchips or other permanent forms of identification, ensuring the best possible chance for them to be successfully reunited with their owners.  This requirement had been in NH law since 1997 and was inadvertently omitted in the rewrite of RSA 437 in 2027.  In support of this requirement, the American Kennel Club has offered to supply up to 20 shelters with free universal scanners.

From the House Calendar –

SB 569-FN,(Second New Title) relative to animal cruelty and establishing a commission to study cost of care for confiscated animals.

The House amended version of SB 569 passed the House with a two to one favorable vote. The Environment and Agriculture committee spent many hours strengthening the Senate version and looking out for the welfare of animals and protecting citizens’ rights. Despite media reports, the House conferees from the start agreed to compromise on the issue of anonymous reporting, animal hoarding, and a few other points that were not even addressed. Key non-negotiable items for the House were in the areas of increased funding and personnel. The House committee, after meeting with the commissioner and reviewing the recent LBA financial review of the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food, was now to allow the newly hired commissioner to do a complete review of the department’s animal division and present a case for the next biennial budget, rather than a haphazard approach of putting limited funding at the end of the current biennium. An additional area of concern was in RSA 437:7, exceptions, as it relates to hobby breeders, that would subject them to being classified as a commercial kennel. The House and Senate were unable to reach a compromise and the Senate was diametrically opposed to the House amended version, and after three meetings exhausted the avenues for compromise. The House and Senate conferees agreed that our differences could not be resolved at this time.  Rep. John T. O’Connor

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SB 569 – One Hurdle Gone

Good news! After devoting long hours last week to preparing an amendment,  on April 24th, in a bipartisan vote, the House Environment and Agriculture Committee, voted SB 569 – relative to animal cruelty and establishing a commission to study certain language applicable to the transfer of animals. Ought to Pass as Amended.  The committee has addressed many of our concerns that they heard in the testimony at the hearings.

You can read the bipartisan amendment here.

Some of the changes include:

  • The Cost of Care section has been eliminated. It is replaced with a study commission to explore the cost of care of confiscated animals using a state managed fund similar to the very successful state spay/neuter fund. Additionally,  the commission will explore funding sources to ensure reliable source for the monies needed. DOGS will be represented on the commission.
  • The commission will examine the Department of Agriculture’s need to perform inspections of licensed pet vendors, which include animal shelters, animal rescues, pet stores, and commercial breeding kennels, and the funding of those inspections.
  • The definition of Breeding Females has been changed  so a female who has not had a litter in 18 months shall not be counted as a breeding female.  Also, it now says “kept and maintained for the demonstrated purpose of breeding and selling or transferring the dog’s offspring …” so the possibility of mere ownership of 7 unspayed females will not  be enough for requiring the owner to be licensed by the state.
  • The exception to the licensing requirement now includes dog breeders who breed for “hunting; field work; drafting; and guarding, working, or herding livestock, as defined in RSA 21:34-a, II(a)(4); or participating in any lawful dog event, including, but not limited to, conformation shows or obedience trials, field trials, agility events, hunts, mushing” provided they have not bred 10 or more litters or sold 50 or more puppies in a 12 month period. Those who have done  will be required to be licensed by the state just like they are now.
  • The committee has added a definition of animal hoarding to the animal cruelty law. Animal hoarding is the problem at the root of most large-scale animal seizures. Adding a definition of animal hoarding to the law is endorsed by both the ASPCA and Best Friends Animal Society, two nationwide animal welfare organizations which help the victims of animal hoarding.

Not unexpectedly, HSUS is not happy with the changes to SB 569 and is campaigning hard against the amendment.   It will be voted on by the House on May 2 or May 3If it passes the House, then the bill will be sent over to the Senate to either “concur,” “not concur,” or ask for a committee of conference.  Here’s what you can do help -this is important!

We NEED you to call your Representatives and ask them to support the Environment and Agriculture Committee’s amended version of SB569.

Also, we NEED you to call your Senator and ask them to vote to “Concur with the House changes”.

 To find the contact information for your Representatives and Senator, go to http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx  and put in your town.

Here are some talking points for your call –

  • The House did a great job, held multiple work sessions and put together a good bill that addresses the issues while also respecting constitutional rights and responsible dog owners.
  • The other important issues will be studied so all stake holders can come together and find appropriate and long term solutions.

If your Rep(s) or Senator brings up any of HSUS’s specific issues with the amended version of SB569 , here are some answers.  These are specific answers to HSUS  statements in their opposition announcement.  The HSUS statements are in red.

  • Does not allow for mandatory inspections of commercial kennels, animal shelters, rescue organizations or pet stores 
    • All licensed facilities will still be subject to inspections.
  • Strips penalties for purposeful and egregious cruelty that results in the death of an animal  
    • If animal cruelty is so severe that it causes an animal’s death, it is already a felony in current law.
  • Adds a controversial hoarding provision 
    • Both the ASPCA and Best Friends Animal Society, two nationwide animal welfare organizations which help the victims of animal hoarding, endorse the inclusion of a definition of animal hoarding in state’s laws. It has been included in law in Illinois since 2001.
  • Exempts all categories of dog breeders, including existing commercial kennels, from licensing and basic animal care standards. 
    • Any breeder who meets the current requirement for licensing as a commercial kennel will still have to be licensed.
    • All animal owners in New Hampshire are subject to the animal cruelty laws and must provide adequate care to their animals whether they are licensed by the state or not.
  • Prohibits anonymous complaints
    • The Department of Agriculture has always had a policy against anonymous complaints.  This bill does NOT prevent other entities, such as  the local police, from investigating anonymous complaints if they should choose to do so,
  • Repeals existing law that allows the public to request records from a licensed facility regarding public health and animal welfare
    • The public will still have the ability to inspect a licensee’s animal health certificates.  What they will no longer have access to is a licensee’s business records including customer names and addresses in order to protect the customer’s privacy and security.
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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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