2023 Regulatory Update Part 2: What We Are Watching In the Pet Industry

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Relating to the Pet Industry and Obtaining Pets

Sale of Pets in Retail Establishments

This year New York and Oregon joined the following states that have passed laws banning or restricting the sale of pets in retail establishments: California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Illinois and Washington.  In December 2022 Governor Hochul signed New York Assembly Bill 981, which prohibits pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits.  However, implementation of New York’s pet sale ban has been delayed until December 2024 and pet stores will be permitted to charge rent to animal shelters using the stores to host adoption events for rescue animals.  New York Assembly Bill 6863, introduced in May and referred to committee, seeks to regulate the retail sale of pets through online platforms. On July 27 Oregon House Bill 2915 was enacted, which provides that a retail pet store may not sell or offer to sell a dog or cat, but exempts (if certain conditions are met) retail pet stores that sold or offered to sell dogs or cats before the effective date.  The law takes effect on September 24 of this year.

For the first time Michigan is considering a state-wide pet sale ban.  Michigan House Bill 4838 was introduced and referred to committee on June 22.  While the proposed legislation would prohibit a pet shop from arranging the sale, adoption, exchange, or transfer of a dog, cat, or rabbit, it also does not prohibit a pet shop from collaborating with and offering space to an animal shelter to showcase these companion animals.  However, the bill expressly does not provide for a pet shop to retain an adoption or any other fee for providing space to showcase animals.  Pennsylvania House Bill 846, introduced in April, would also ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits by pet shops in that state.

Other states considering similar legislation include: Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky and Texas.  All of these bills did not make it out of committee.

Illinois House Bills 2253 and 2793 both are being held over to the 2024 legislative session, as is Minnesota House Bill 1276 and Senate Bill 1317Georgia House Bill 573 (held over to 2024) would prohibit the transfer of any dog, cat, or domestic rabbit at certain locations, including roadside and other public outdoor spaces.  Over 450 local communities have enacted similar local ordinances, with localities in multiple states continuing to consider similar ordinances.  In May New York City adopted a ban on the retail sale of guinea pigs.  The ban went into effect on June 11. 

Legislation Preempting Retail Pet Sale Bans

States also have passed or are contemplating so-called preemption legislation, which would protect pet stores from retail pet sale bans.  On June 23, Texas enacted House Bill 2127, which  provides state preemption of certain state or federal law on certain municipal and county regulations.  The new law specifically preempts state regulations of animal breeding and sale businesses, provided the individual running the business is licensed by the state or federal government.  Enacted in April, Arkansas House Bill 1591 preempts local government from passing an ordinance, resolution, or regulation that prohibits a retail pet store from selling animals if certain conditions are met.  The law takes effect on July 11.

Florida passed legislation authorizing courts to assess and award reasonable attorney fees and costs and damages (up to $50,000)  in certain civil actions filed against local governments and requiring a county to suspend enforcement of an ordinance that is the subject of a certain legal action if certain conditions are met.  Although he vetoed a similar bill in the 2022 session, Florida Governor DeSantis signed into law Florida House Bill 170 on June 29.  

Other states considering similar preemption legislation include Indiana and Missouri (died in committee), and Kansas (held over to 2024 session).

Pet Leasing

The following states have banned pet leasing: Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington, New Jersey, Virginia, Indiana, California, Nevada and New York.   Held over to the 2024 session, North Carolina House Bill 226 would ban the practice in that state.  Even those states currently prohibiting the leasing of pets continue to consider legislation furthering that end.  For instance, under current Virginia law, financial institutions are prohibited from offering loans or financing agreements where the animal is subject to repossession upon default.  Virginia House Bill 2417 (although left in committee), would prohibit financial institutions and other covered persons from arranging a financing agreement for the financing, rental, lease, sale or other transfer of a dog or cat.


State Action

As in the past, states continue to raise standards for shelters. Connecticut House Bill 5575, enacted at the end of June, requires that municipal animal shelters regulation standards comport with state-mandated regulations for private shelters.  Colorado enacted regulations for standards of care in shelters and animal rescues in May. Virginia House Bill 1330 was enacted in April and requires bets, and shelters to seek to identify the lawful owners of unidentified companion animals by scanning for an embedded microchip.  Enacted on August 17, Delaware Senate Bill 129 seeks to regulate animal shelter standards, as does New York Assembly Bill 6357, which remains pending.

Federal Action

On the federal level, the United States House Resolution 3709 (“Keeping Pets and Families Together Act”) would amend the Animal Welfare Act to facilitate cooperative agreements between the federal government and animal shelters and award grants to support the microchipping of dogs and cats in shelters.  That bill was introduced in May and referred to subcommittee on June 23.

Pet Dealers and Breeders

State Action

States continue to raise standards for animal dealers and breeders as well.  Connecticut Senate Bill 1069 was enacted in June and regulates breeding kennels.  Texas Senate Bill 876 (enacted in May and taking effect September 1) amends the definition of “dog or cat breeder” to expand the applicability of an occupational license.  Indiana (Senate Bill 277/House Bill 1389) passed legislation in May that requires animal facilities built after June 2023 to have a fire alarm system or staff on duty any time a dog or cat is on the premises, and authorizes periodic local or state fire inspections to enforce compliance.  On a less restrictive note, Oklahoma House Bill 2059 was enacted in April and repeals annual report requirements for certain breeders.  Illinois (Senate Bill 129 and 1230; House Bill 1373) is contemplating changes to its definition of the term “dog dealer.”  These bills have been held over to the 2024 session.  Illinois House Bill 3200, also held over, would require dog breeders to genetically test dogs for diseases that cause early death or physical impairments.  New York Assembly Bill 3669 and Pennsylvania Senate Bill 701/House Bill 1318 and Senate Bill 702 would impose sourcing restrictions on dog and cat dealers.  Utah, West Virginia and Texas also considered other bills seeking to regulate breeders, but none progressed out of committee.

Federal  Action

As reported in our last update the federal government is taking action to regulate pet dealers.  The “Puppy Protection Act of 2023” (United States House Resolution 1624) was introduced in March, and would require the Department of Agriculture to expand standards that govern the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of animals to include new requirements for commercial dog dealers.  It remains pending in the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry.

Identical to the version referenced in our last regulatory update, in March 2023, House Resolution 1788 or “Goldie’s Act” was introduced and subsequently referred to the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry.  HR 1788 would amend the Animal Welfare Act to require that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have access to breeding facilities at all reasonable times, make inspections at least once a year, and record all violations.  The bill remains pending in the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry.

Grooming and Other Pet Care Services

As we have previously reported, states continue to propose and pass legislation seeking to regulate other animal related establishments, such as groomers, trainers, kennels and boarding establishments.  Texas House Bill 2063 was enacted in June (without the Governor’s signature) and requires informed consent for boarding or providing services to dogs or cats when employees are not present.  Connecticut Senate Bill 1069, enacted in June, regulates breeding kennels.  Illinois Senate Bill 1372, held over to the 2024 session, would create a dog training licensure act and board.  Massachussetts House Bill 314 would provide for licensure, standards of care and inspections for dog day care facilities. 

New Jersey is considering a number of bills (Assembly Bill 198 and 3097; Assembly Bill 570/Senate Bill 182)  that would define and regulate dog groomers. New Hampshire House Bill 37 (held over to 2024) would establish a committee to study best practices for companion animal groomers.  New York Senate Bill 4663 would provide for the registration and regulation of pet groomers; establish standards of care, training and testing and provide that applicants must be at least eighteen years of age. New York Senate Bill 5341/Assembly Bill 2718 would  provide for the licensing of pet grooming facilities, establish standards of care and require record keeping.  Massachusetts House Bill 310 (pending in committee) similarly would establish a board of registration for pet groomers and promulgate rules and regulations for standards of care.