Action Alert: New Hampshire SB161

This bill amends (or edits) the current "Sale of Pets" law (RSA 437:1). It removes the current language of "engaged in the business of transferring" and replaces it with "that transfers 20 or more" and creates the term pet vendor. It applies to any animal which can be sold as a pet, so basically all species. Under the current language, inspectors usually apply this law to pet shops.

The problem lies in the vagueness of the current language. "Engaged in the business of transferring" is not defined. Does the transfer of one animal qualify as engaged in business or does there need to be everyday transfers, like a pet shop? Essentially, a person transferring just one animal could be considered a pet vendor, or you could argue it applies to legitimate commercial businesses selling lots of animals (brick and mortar or internet).

If the bill passes as introduced, every person transferring more than 20 animals annually must be licensed and inspected by the NH Department of Agriculture. Regarding reptiles and amphibians, that could mean with just one just litter or clutch (for some species) you would need to open your home to inspection by government officials. It also means a $100 initial license with $200 renewals each year thereafter, proof of zoning approval, and more.

A change needs to be made to the current law but enforcing it upon hobby and occasional breeders is overreaching. There are two possible solutions. Either "business of transferring" needs to be defined to include only commercial brick-and-mortar and online pet shops, or the new term pet vendor needs to be defined to include only those entities. Pet vendor should not be defined by an arbitrary number of transfers.

We have been informed that this is a knee-jerk reaction to a hoarding situation from which the person was also selling animals (birds). In those cases, current animal welfare and cruelty laws need to be enforced. Punishing responsible hobby breeders due to the actions of one individual is bad government and wrongful.

SB161 was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and there is a hearing on February 7.

Hearing details:

February 7  at 9:30 AM
New Hampshire State House
107 N Main Street, Room 103
Concord, NH 03303

Email list:

Martha.FullerClark@leg.state.nh.us, Dan.Feltes@leg.state.nh.us, David.Watters@leg.state.nh.us,
Bob.Giuda@leg.state.nh.us, Jeb.Bradley@leg.state.nh.us, Griffin.Roberge@leg.state.nh.us

Subject line (below or similar):

NO to SB161

Sample comment:

I oppose Senate Bill 161 as a New Hampshire resident and responsible animal owner. The new term "pet vendor" is defined using an arbitrary number. Rather than assigning a number, pet vendor should be defined to include only commercial pet shops and businesses operating as full-time animal sellers.

New Hampshire already has sufficient animal cruelty and welfare laws. Those laws need to be enforced. If this bill is an attempt to stop hoarding situations, it is a flawed approach. Punishing responsible hobby breeders due to the actions of one individual is bad government and wrongful. Punish criminals and not good citizens.

Please consider my rational thoughts on this bill and amend SB161 or clarify the current language of RSA 437:1 to remove the vagueness surrounding "business of transferring" so that it applies only to commercial pet sellers. Thank you for your time and have a good day.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

______________________________________________________________________________________

Current language:

437:1 License Required. – No person, firm, corporation or other entity shall engage in the business of transferring with or without a fee or donation required, to the public, live animals or birds customarily used as household pets unless the premises on which they are housed, harbored or displayed for such purposes are duly licensed and inspected by the department of agriculture, markets, and food of the state of New Hampshire. This section shall also apply to commercial kennels and to any person, firm, corporation, or other entity engaged in the business of, including activity as a broker, transferring live animals or birds customarily used as household pets for transfer to the public, with or without a fee required, and whether or not a physical facility is owned by the licensee in New Hampshire when transfer to the final owner occurs within New Hampshire.

Bill language: 

IV.  "Pet vendor" 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 required, and whether or not a physical facility is owned by the licensee in New Hampshire in any 12 month period.

2  Exemptions; Commercial Kennel Deleted.  Amend RSA 437:7 to read as follows:

437:7  Exceptions.  The license provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to breeders of dogs that do not meet the definition of pet vendor in RSA 437:1, veterinarians, or the transfer of livestock or poultry.

Bill text: http://gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/billText.aspx?sy=2019&id=830&txtFormat=pdf&v=current

Article written by USARK