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