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

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.


2015 – Legislative Update – #3