Wrap-up of the year

The most significant changes to New Hampshire’s laws occurred at the end of the session.  The budget trailer bill included a major rewrite of RSA 437 -the “SALE OF PETS AND DISPOSITION OF UNCLAIMED ANIMALS ” law.

We have posted PDFs of the old version of RSA 437 and the new version.  Please download and read them.

Some of the changes to the law.

  • Shelters will no longer be required to have a microchip scanner nor will they have to check for identification when an unclaimed or abandoned animal is taken in. New Hampshire was a leader when this requirement was enacted.
  • “any person, firm, corporation, or other entity engaged in the business of transferring live animals or birds customarily used as household pets to the public, with or without a fee or donation required, and whether or not a physical facility is owned by the licensee in New Hampshire, when transfer to the final owner occurs within New Hampshire. is now defined as a Pet Vendor.  All pet vendors must be licensed by the state.
  • The exemption from licensing has been changed to only apply to The license provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to breeders of dogs that do not meet the definition of commercial kennel in RSA 437:1*, veterinarians, or the transfer of livestock or poultry.” * transfers 10 or more litters or 50 or more puppies in any 12-month period.
  • Health Certificates will no longer be sent to the State Veterinarian.
  • Licensees will no longer be inspected annually.

Possible Bills for Next Year

We have all heard about the New Hampshire Great Dane rescue that occurred this summer. Whatever we feel about it, we should all be prepared for the likelihood of several breeder unfriendly bills next year.  Two that are likely are a repeat of the “Cost of Care” (2015) bill which would require anyone accused of cruelty to pay the costs of caring for the animals before the trial.  If they can’t afford to pay the fees, they will lose ownership of the animals regardless of the outcome if trial.  A second bill which has been mentioned is to change the requirement for licensing so it is based on the number of intact bitches owned, not the number of litters produced. It will take the participation of a large number of responsible owners and breeders to defeat these bills.

So that you will understand what pet breeders and owners will be facing next year, I’ve included an op-ed in the Union Leader written by Lindsay Hamrick, New Hampshire state director for The Humane Society of the United States at the bottom of this post.

The Rest of the Wrap-up

Bills that were killed:

  • The most important bill we dealt with was HB 594establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty. This bill was opposed by DOGS.  The House Environment and Agriculture Committee unanimously voted it Inexpedient to Legislate.  The full House confirmed that vote.
  • HB 289allowing humane societies to place tourist oriented directional signs on the side of the road.
  • HB 483prohibiting the issuance of a summons or warrant for failure to license a dog.
  • HB 623-FNrelative to animals abandoned in the foreclosure process.

Bills that have been passed by the House and the Senate (and will probably become law).

  •  HB 290relative to rabies vaccination protocols for companion animals.
  • HB 291-FNremoving veterinarians from compliance with the controlled drug prescription health and safety program. This bill was amended by the Senate to require veterinarians to takes continuing education courses on pain management and prescribing pain medicines.

Laid on the table in the House

  •  HB 381relative to cruelty to non-captive wildlife. This bill could be pulled off the table at any point through the end of this session.

And Finally

It is with not a little regret that I would like to announce my resignation as President of Dog Owners of the Granite State.

When the New Hampshire budget trailer bill removed scanning for microchips this year, it reminded me that it was 20 years ago when a bill first added this requirement. That was the first time I had ever testified before a committee in Concord. Twenty years is a very long time and it is time for some new ideas.

I would be happy to talk with anyone who might be interested in becoming involved with DOGS and will be pleased to help my replacement however I can.

Thanks for reading.

Elin


From The New Hampshire Union Leader (and other papers)

July 05. 2017 8:41PM

Another View — Lindsay Hamric: Great Dane neglect could have been prevented

By LINDSAY HAMRIC

Remains of raw chicken parts strewn about. Feces smeared across the walls. Ammonia levels so high in some rooms you couldn’t help but tear up.

This is just some of the squalor responders with The Humane Society of the United States encountered when they entered a suspected puppy mill operating out of a 15,000-square-foot mansion in Wolfeboro to rescue 84 Great Danes that had been trapped inside.

The June 16 rescue, in collaboration with the Wolfeboro Police Department and representatives from the Conway Area Humane Society and the Pope Memorial SPCA, was as surprising as it was dramatic. The juxtaposition of a pricey neighborhood and a huge house packed with animals living in filth, without access to water or an adequate diet, reminds us that there are hard-hearted and troubled people everywhere, people who lose control and fall short of their animal care responsibilities.

This situation could have been alleviated much sooner or avoided altogether, if New Hampshire had stronger commercial dog breeding laws.

Currently, the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture only licenses breeders who sell at least 50 individual puppies or 10 litters in one year, allowing many high-volume breeders to escape regulatory oversight. If the state is to take the lessons from this case seriously, then it must work to prevent it from happening again by regulating all commercial breeders and holding them to strict standards of care.

The first step is to upgrade the Granite State’s commercial breeding regulations and shift to a system in which the number of breeding females at a facility, not the number of puppies sold, is the bar by which these operations are regulated. This will allow state officials to identify the need for registration and inspection on-site, rather than the lengthy process to track down paperwork. Next, the standards of care must be undated to improve the quality of life of the breeding dogs that spend their lives in these facilities.

The state must also allocate more resources to the Department of Agriculture to ensure adequate staffing to inspect and regulate commercial breeders, like our neighbors in Maine, which allocates more resources to the regulation and protection of companion animals.

The HSUS, which is absorbing 100 percent of the costs to rehabilitate and care for the 84 Great Danes, many of which have infections, open sores and cuts, and other health problems, through the duration of the criminal investigation, expects costs to reach the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This case is not an anomaly. Recently, Live and Let Live Farm in Chichester assisted the Deering Police Department in the rescue of four horses. Live and Let Live Farm will now take on the expense of bringing four horses back from the brink of death. But why must taxpayers and nonprofit organizations cover these costs at all?

Under current law, the costs to care for animals in investigations rests with the town in which the neglect occurs. In this case, Wolfeboro and its taxpayers. Since New Hampshire towns can’t possibly cover tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenses required to care for animals in cases like these, humane organizations are placed in the difficult position of absorbing the costs to care for them or make the agonizing decision to not intervene.

Caring for animals seized in a cruelty case presents a unique challenge in our criminal justice system. New Hampshire lawmakers could learn from other states that have enacted a comprehensive cost of animal care law to protect the rights of defendants and ensure costs do not fall to taxpayers and non-profit animal welfare agencies. Responsibility for costs associated with caring for animals seized in a cruelty investigation should fall on the person responsible for the crisis.

We need not reinvent the wheel on either issue. The Governor’s Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals is already charged with finding solutions to the exorbitant costs to care for animals in cruelty cases and to promote legislation to ensure the safety and welfare of domestic animals in the Granite State.

We are calling on New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, whose track record for animal welfare has been strong in his first year, to work up a new legal framework to require stronger breeding standards, to cover more large-scale breeders, and to place the burden of costs on these individuals when the animal care situations they create spiral out of control.

Lindsay Hamrick is the New Hampshire state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

Final 2017 Legislative Update
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