New Hampshire - SB569

relative to animal cruelty.


January 11, 2018


SB 569 is a broad-spectrum bill encompassing several different issues. First, it will create several definitions not found in the current law. “Pet vendors” are defined as anyone “engaged in the business of transferring live animals or birds customarily used as household pets to the public, with or without a fee or donation required.” This broad definition reads as including anyone who sells any pet to the public, even if it’s only one. It arguably reads as it could include shelters and rescues as they certainly transfer pets to the public. Pet vendors are subject to licensing subsequent to inspections, a background check to be submitted to the FBI, $200 licensing fee, and inspections upon complaints from anyone however baseless. If a pet vendor’s license is revoked, ALL animals on premises, whether related to the business or personal pets, may be seized.

The bill also addresses health certificates to the extreme. No dog, cat, or ferret may be offered for sale without being vaccinated for “infectious diseases.” This is overbroad and ambiguous wording that could be construed to include rabies. In dogs, puppies are customarily sold at 8 weeks old which is far too young to vaccinate for rabies according recommended veterinary standards. The American Animal Hospital Association mandates that the rabies vaccine not be given any earlier than 3 months old:

Health certificates must be issued by the examining veterinarian within 14 days prior to transfer. Also, dogs imported from out of state intended for transfer must be held for 48 hours prior to transfer. Strangely enough, animal shelters are improperly exempted from these requirements. Animals imported from out of state by animal shelters merely require health certificates but require no holding period, despite the fact these animals are the least regulated and most likely to carry illnesses.

The bill newly defines commercial kennels as anyone with “5 or more breeding female dogs or transfers 10 or more litters or 50 or more puppies in any 12-month period.” A breeding female is “an unspayed female dog kept or maintained for the purpose of breeding and selling the dog’s offspring,” yet another overbroad and ambiguous term this legislation brings to the table. As no age is set, female puppies may be counted in this number. Nor is it clear who carries the burden to prove whether females are actually breeding females.

Finally, the bill seeks to create a cost of care bond for animals seized from a person charged with animal cruelty. Prior law charged cost of care only to the person CONVICTED of cruelty, upon said conviction. SB 569 would require anyone even charged with cruelty to animals to cover cost of boarding or even disposing of animals seized, with no real cap or limitation. Owners charged may be required to post bond set by the court every 30 days based on mere probable cause, or the “court may dispose of said animal in any manner it decides.” If convicted, the owner loses any excess funds, and the bill does not address reimbursing owners found innocent. 

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