During the 2015 NH Legislative Session, DOGS identified 13 bills that would impact ownership, breeding, training and working with dogs and other animals. Again, this year, numerous members of DOGS responded to our “Calls to Action” in the email newsletters or on our Facebook page. The efforts of DOGS’ members made a difference in the outcome of several bills.  Our members testified at public hearings, contacted legislators and shared DOGS legislative information with local clubs and colleagues. DOGS’ legislative advocacy program is made possible by contributions from our members and local dog and cat clubs. We are grateful for the continuing support of the Granite State Shetland Sheepdog Club of South East New Hampshire, the Lakes Region Kennel Club, Merrimack Valley Kennel Club, the Newfoundland Club of New England, and the Souhegan Kennel Club (links can be found on our Supporters page).

This year’s most challenging bill was HB 624 championed by the Human Society of the United States (HSUS).  In criminal cases when an animal(s) is confiscated due to animal cruelty charges, HB 624 set up a pre-trial process whereby a civil court might order the owner of the confiscated animal(s) to post a bond to cover the cost of caring for the animal(s) during disposition of the criminal charge. If the owner was unable to post the bond, they would lose ownership of the animals in question.  There was no mechanism for the money to be returned to the owner if the charges were dropped or the criminal trial resulted in a finding of innocence.  DOGS enlisted the New Hampshire American Civil Liberties Union, AKC, the NH Mushers Association and several of our members to testify in opposition at the public hearing.  HSUS maintained that animal shelters and municipalities are often burdened with the high cost of care for animals during the disposition of the criminal case. But, no municipality appeared in support of the bill. The House Environment & Agriculture Committee recommended that the bill be killed in an 18-0 vote.

DOGS appreciates the tireless work of Representatives Jan Gardner, Bob Haefner, and Tara Sad who supported our concerns.  DOGS is grateful for the House Environment & Agriculture Committee’s commitment to protecting the interests of animal owners and the safety and health of animals.  The final dispositions of the major bills that DOGS was involved with are summarized below.

Held for Study
The following bills will be scheduled for study meetings during the summer and early fall.  The Committee retaining the bill schedules and conducts the meetings. When the legislature reconvenes in 2016 these bills will be taken up for further action.

In June, the House Executive Departments Committee began work on HB 661.  An amendment is being prepared by the subcommittee. The amendment would require that shelters submit with their annual license renewal a variation of the National Federation of Humane Societies Basic Animal Stats Matrix.  The Matrix will be modified to include the numbers for animals imported from out-of-state. The details will be finalized when the House Executive Department’s subcommittee meets in September.

Bill # Summary Status DOGS Comments
HB 475 Prohibits a state official from engaging in acts of civil forfeiture. Retained for study by the
House Executive Departments Committee.
A copy is at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2015/HB0475.pdf
While this bill is primarily aimed at utility projects, it may apply to personal property (pets)
HB 636 Relative to forfeiture of property. Retained for study by the
House Judiciary Committee.
A copy is at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2015/HB0636.pdf
DOGS is monitoring this bill which seeks to re-organize and update the forfeiture statute.
HB 661 Requires nonprofit animal shelters to annually file information about the animals accepted (including imported), their care and disposition. Retained for study by the
House Executive Departments Committee.
A copy is at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2015/HB0661.pdf
DOGS supports. Due to the increasing numbers of dogs being imported into the state, this bill is essential to track potential public health threats. The bill requires documentation of the cost of care by local nonprofit animal shelters. Shelters collect this information but many do not share it.

Defeated Bills – Killed in 2015

Bill # Summary Status DOGS Comments
HB 241 Prohibiting a driver from holding an animal while operating a vehicle. The fine for this violation is $100. Tabled (killed) in the House. While DOGS maintains that people should not drive with dogs on their laps, the negligent driving law seems to already cover this issue (RSA 265:79-b).
HB 624 Relative to paying for cost of care for animal cruelty. Killed in the House. DOGS, NH-ACLU and NH Farm Bureau opposed. Numerous DOGS members sent letters in opposition.
SB 15 Requiring the owner of a companion animal to leash the animal in the proximity of a service dog. Failure to do so is a Misdemeanor. Killed in the Senate DOGS opposed. Current law, 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.” Also current law allows dogs to be off-lead for hunting, livestock guarding or training.
2015 NH Legislation Summary Report