A Rising Tide
By Cathy Calliotte
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council has had its hands full dealing with more than 1,700 pieces of pet-related legislation over the past year.

With pet-related legislation and regulations up more than 33 percent, it’s been a busy legislative session for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). PIJAC has tracked and addressed more than 1,700 pieces of legislation this session. Here is a small sample:

Animal Abuse Registries
Animal abuse registry legislation was introduced in 23 states this session. Two counties in New York introduced legislation regarding animal abuse registries. On Oct. 19, amendments were made to remove the misdemeanor clause for pet sellers that do not check the registry in Westchester County, N.Y.  Erie County, N.Y., still has the provision in its bill. Also of note, following PIJAC’s opposition to a Maryland bill that carried a misdemeanor offense and up to a $10,000 fine for pet sellers that knowingly sell a pet to an animal abuser, that bill died in committee.

Exotic/Dangerous Animal Legislation
The pet industry has seen an influx of “wild,” “dangerous,” or “exotic” animal legislation, particularly over the last year. Congress and 22 states have introduced a total of 47 bills in this area.

Legislation in Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin is still pending. Measures in Indiana, Rhode Island and South Carolina died in committee when the sessions adjourned. West Virginia Senate Bill 477 included animals that are commonly kept as pets and was vetoed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. In Ohio, PIJAC worked closely with leaders to ensure that reptile owners could keep their pets and reptile businesses could continue operating. Additionally, PIJAC is taking part in a workgroup formed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, in conjunction with the University of Virginia Institute for Environmental Negotiation, to identify issues and develop recommendations pertaining to public safety and potentially dangerous animals in Virginia. 

Invasive Species
At the federal level, PIJAC has been actively involved in H.R. 511, which proposes to add nine large constrictors to the “injurious wildlife” list under the Lacey Act, including four species previously listed under the act. This bill would prohibit importation and interstate movement of these nine constrictors. PIJAC has worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) at each stage of the listing process and has submitted comments arguing that there is no justification for a blanket listing under the Lacey Act.

Additionally, Congress introduced companion bills ostensibly designed to establish an improved regulatory process for injurious wildlife to prevent the introduction and establishment of potentially harmful nonnative wildlife and wild animal pathogens and parasites. These bills are modified versions of H.R. 669 from several years ago, which in essence banned all non-native species as injurious until each species was proven to be harmless. PIJAC has also been in discussions with the USFWS concerning the risk-screen assessments of 2,000 species, many of which are in the pet trade, to determine whether they are invasive or potentially invasive. 

Retail Pet Sale Bans
California had the highest rate of introductions, with seven localities passing legislation banning the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. San Francisco, Los Angeles and Burbank are still considering legislation. San Clemente is the only California locality to defeat the legislation.

Colorado, Florida, New Jersey and Ohio have localities that have passed bans. Governments in Missouri and Maine declined to pass legislation. Legislation is pending in New Mexico and Wisconsin. Suffolk County, N.Y., adopted a market-based rating system in lieu of a ban.

Warranty Laws
Maryland passed a warranty law to protect consumers when purchasing a dog from a pet store, while Connecticut (which also includes cats) amended its law to expand coverage. A bill in Michigan is in the Senate for a second reading. Measures in Hawaii died in committee upon adjournment.

Cathy Calliotte is vice president of marketing and communications for the Washington, D.C.–based Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. PIJAC provides its members a voice in state and national legislative issues through advocacy and timely information regarding upcoming policy issues that affect the pet industry, pet owners and the animals they care for. For more information, visit www.pijac.org.