I. Makes changes to the definition of pet vendor and defines hobby breeder.
II. Establishes the companion animal welfare division in the department of agriculture, markets, and food.
III. Establishes the animal transfer database in the department of agriculture, markets, and food.
IV. Creates a license for animal shelters and modifies the license for pet vendors.
V. Allows hobby breeders to register with the department of agriculture, markets, and food.
The bill would “REQUIRE” not “ALLOW” hobby breeders to register with the department, despite the language in the summary described above.
A “hobby breeder” means “A person who transfers animals for a fee and transfers 30 or fewer animals in a year.” Notably, the term “animals” is not limited to dogs, cats, or other animals commonly owned as pets.
At least some of the requirements for “hobby breeders” appear to be draconian and overly burdensome. See, e.g., inspection and record keeping requirements:
A hobby breeder registered under this subdivision shall:
I. Maintain in a clean and sanitary condition all premises, buildings, and other enclosures used in the business of dealing in live animals customarily used as household pets.
II. Submit premises, buildings, and other enclosures to scheduled inspections by department employees or local animal control, law enforcement, or health officials at reasonable times.
III. Maintain, subject to inspection by the commissioner, his or her agent, local officials, law enforcement, or any member of the public, a proper record in which all live animals customarily used as household pets obtained or transferred shall be listed, including the breed, date the animal was obtained and transferred, and from whom the animal or bird was obtained and to whom the animal was transferred. Such record shall also show the microchip, leg band, or tattoo number of each animal or bird, where applicable. Animals that do not bear such identification shall be identified by recording markings, a physical description and any other information as the commissioner deems necessary to identify such animals.
IV. Keep records of all animals intended for transfer indicating identification, point of origin, and recipient, and shall submit said records to the commissioner upon request.
V. Provide a health certificate in accordance with RSA 437:10-d to the transferee.
VI. Shall not transfer animals to pet vendors.
VII. Comply with such other rules as the commissioner may adopt to control disease.
The Fiscal Note, submitted with the bill as introduced, describes the expenditures required by New Hampshire related to the establishment of the Companion Animal Welfare Division within the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Foods, excluding expenses pertaining to operating the office which will house the new Division. A wopping $3,896,000 are the estimated expenditures from 2020-2023. The program is not expected to be operational until 2022.
The projected number, type and cost of new positions needed for the new Division includes:
|Position||Number of Positions||FY 2022 Salary and Benefit Costs||FY 2023 Salary and Benefit Costs|
(LG 18, Step 1)
(LG 14, Step 1)
(LG 29, Step 1)
Technical Support Specialist VI
(LG 32, Step 1)
(LG EE, Step 1)
(LG 30, Step 5)
|Hearing Officer Contractor||0.5||$37,000||$37,000|
The new Division has been purportedly modeled after the Animal Welfare Program in Maine.
However, there appear to be striking differences between the laws in Maine and those proposed in HB 688. For example, NH would require licensure of anyone who transfers as few as one animal for a fee. In Maine, “a person may not advertise for sale, sell or exchange for value more than one cat or dog under the age of 6 months in a 12-month period unless that person has a valid animal shelter, kennel, breeding kennel or pet shop license or a valid vendor’s license issued under this section.” MRS §4163 (emphasis added).
Maine also exempts hobby dog breeders from licensure as a kennel if they sell or exchange one litter of puppies within a 12-month period. MRS §3907 (17).
While HB 688 would help the state regulate the transfer of animals through animal rescue organizations, it’s required licensure of all hobby breeders appears to be overreaching and likely not necessary to obtain the laudible goals of “put[ting] the humane treatment of animals on par with the existing mission priorities of the Department . . .”