NH Legislative Information


Pet Owners Need to Pay Attention Now
By Cheryl Killam   2-19-19

If you breed any animals with fur, feathers or scales, you may be being watched.

All pet owners and breeders in New Hampshire of dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, birds or reptiles, just to name a few, need to pay attention now. 

Most families have pets in their homes that are family members and couch potatoes.  Some have cats because they are so independent and they snuggle with you on the couch, while others may have dogs that are partners in a wide variety of activities and sports such as hiking, hunting, agility, herding, flyball, lure-coursing, Frisbee, dock dogs or sled-dog racing, while others prefer birds and reptiles.

Responsible, reputable breeders of dogs breed their dogs selectively with a purpose or goal, whether it is for coat, color, bone structure, personality, or sporting and hobby abilities .For most breeders, it is not a money-making business.  They do health testing and temperament testing of the puppies to assure they are good representatives of the breed.  A responsible breeder will take a puppy or dog back if it’s not working out for whatever reason. 

Over the past couple years there have been multiple cases of animal abuse, neglect and hoarding that have cost a lot of money when it comes to the cost of care of the confiscated animals and legal expenses.  There were 21 Chihuahuas in Croydon, 52 Labrador retrievers from Marlboro, the 84 Great Danes in Wolfeboro, 36 German Shepherds with 9 from Bristol and 22 from Alexandria plus 5 puppies born at the shelter, with all of these animals being cared for at shelters.

If you have one or more litters of puppies, kittens, rabbits, parakeets, or other animals that you intend to give away or sell, you need to be aware of the laws. 

Should you be visited due to an anonymous complaint or concern about your animals’ well-being, depending on what the Police Department or Animal Control Officer or Humane Society finds, they could confiscate your animals and you might be charged with animal cruelty or neglect per NH RSA 644:8 (http://gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/lxii/644/644-8.htm).

Not only would you be responsible for your attorney’s fees, but the prosecutors will request that you be held responsible for the expenses and cost of care of those animals from the day they are confiscated to a future undetermined date.

At the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA) in Stratham, the charge is $27 per day per dog for housing and feeding. For example, 10 dogs kept at the NHSPCA for 2 months could cost $16,200.00 or more, depending on the condition of the dogs or any medical services provided. In most cases the owners cannot pay those expenses so it falls on the taxpayers in the community where the dogs were confiscated. Be aware that you might not even get your animals back because they could put them up for adoption. 

New Hampshire legislators are working on toughening up the laws related to animal cruelty and neglect with new bills in the Senate and House.  However they have refused to define hoarding or add it to the current animal cruelty law, NH RSA 644-8.

Instead, they are going after the responsible, reputable breeders, with a $200 licensing fee for transferring any animal or bird, so as to raise funds to cover the expenses of those who are charged with animal cruelty.

They are attempting to pass a law (HB 688) that requires everyone who breeds and sells or gives away even one animal, to apply for a $200 Pet Vendor License annually so that they have a record of all animal and bird breeders, including pet/hobby vendors, not just commercial breeders. They want to establish a database with names and addresses for scheduled inspections for hobby breeders and unannounced inspections for pet vendors and animal shelters.

This is a short overview of the new bills being discussed up in Concord.

SB 77 -proposes that in cases where animals have been confiscated by an arresting officer, a preliminary hearing will be held by the court within 14 days of the lawful seizure of the animals. It clarifies the process requiring a defendant to post up to a $2000 bond per animal to retain a legal interest in the animals through an appeal process, defines the court's ability to ban a person convicted of animal cruelty from future ownership of animals, and allows an agency caring for animals held during a prosecution to place the animals into foster homes when appropriate. Read the entire SB 77 Here

 SB 161 - proposes to remove “Commercial kennel” out of many bills and insert “Pet Vendor,” which means any person, firm, corporation, or other entity that transfers 20 or more live animals or birds customarily used as household pets to the public, with or without a fee or donation, and whether or not a physical facility is owned by the licensee in New Hampshire in any 12 month period. Read the entire SB 161 Here

HB 688- establishes a new Companion Animal Welfare Division in the Department of Agriculture to run the animal transfer database. The license fees collected from the estimated 1,600 breeders and 225 animal shelters would staff the 15 employees: 8 inspectors, 3 secretaries, 1 technical support, 1 veterinarian, 1 attorney, and 1 contracted hearing officer and state vehicles.  Initial proposed expenses per year for this new department for the employees starts at $1.1 million and the information technology expenses are estimated at another $405,000 for the database services.   Read the entire HB 688 Here

HB 501- establishes a Cost of Care Fund to assist municipalities in covering the cost of care incurred for caring for the animals pending the outcome of a person on trial for  animal cruelty under RSA644:8. Fiflty cents from every dog license fee paid will be deposited into the Cost of Care fund RSA 437-B:1.   Read the entire HB 501 Here

HB 484 - relative to group dog licenses. Establishes the fee at $20 for 5 dogs plus $1 per dog above the initial 5 with $2 remitted to the town clerk into the Companion Animal Neutering Fund,  per RSA 437-A:4-a as the Companion Animal Population Control fee, and the remainder retained by the town or municipality. Read the entire HB 484 Here

HB 376 - establishes a commission to study best practices for companion animal groomers. Read the entire HB 376 Here

HB 426 - establishes a committee to study allowing town clerks to accept proof of certain exemptions from the rabies vaccine for the purpose of registering dogs. Read the entire HB 426 Here

HB 313 - establishes a committee to study the authority and duties of the board of veterinary medicine. Read the entire HB 313 Here

HB 331 - allows veterinarians to make decisions regarding rabies vaccines or companion animals. Read the entire HB 331 Here

According to The Cavalry Group, "animal owners and animal related businesses are under attack by those who seek to elimate animal ownership. If you own animals, be informed and learn the difference between Animal Welfare and Animal Rights activists who want to stop all pet breeding and ownership, or your next pet may not exist."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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