Legislative Affairs

Legislative Affairs

A note about legislative affairs

The Montgomery Kennel Club subscribes to the goals and objects of the American Kennel Club, and among them is a dedication to protecting the rights of all dog owners, promoting responsible dog ownership, and ensuring that laws governing dog ownership and breeding are reasonable, enforceable, and non-discriminatory. The AKC has a comprehensive and fully searchable website dedicated to Governmental and Legislative Affairs containing resources, information, and the option to subscribe to their Legislative Alerts ,

Montgomery, Alabama Animal Ordinance

Recently, the Montgomery Kennel Club was alerted by the AKC Legislative Affairs Department about an upcoming revision to the city of Montgomery’s Animal Ordinance and how it may affect dog owners. Members of the MKC quickly responded with calls and emails to the Montgomery City Council followed by several key meetings of the council and also the Montgomery Humane Society. Members Molly Martin (President), Kaye Stephenson (Secretary), and Frank Dreyfus (Show Chair) directly addressed the City Council. The original revisions to the city ordinance were significantly changed as a result of this public intervention and cooperative effort.

The new Animal Ordinance for the city of Montgomery, AL may be found here on the city’s Code of Ordinances page,

Molly Martin, MKC President, addresses Montgomery City Council

The following was published in The Montgomery Advertiser on April 13, 2022 and may be found here.

The following statement was handed to the Montgomery City Council at their meeting on April 5 by Molly Martin, president of the Montgomery Kennel Club.  She had hoped to speak there on behalf of the club about a proposed animal ordinance to be voted on at the April 19 meeting.  However, she was not allowed to speak. She said that though parts of the proposed ordinance are very good, she believes other sections are vague, overbroad and not in the best interests of many in Montgomery.  The complete text of the proposed eighteen page ordinance is available at montgomeryal.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/15951/637844185933130000

My name is Molly Martin. I showed horses in competition as a child.  My family always had a dog. In 1981, I went to my first dog show. Thereafter, I showed my own dogs in American Kennel Club competitions or had a professional handler to do so. In 1995, I qualified as an AKC judge and have over a period of almost 27 years qualified to judge over 100 breeds.  Over the last 25 or so years, I have judged hundreds of dog shows all over the country, including at the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York this past June.

I was for many years a member of the Montgomery Alabama Dog Obedience Club and served as its president.  I am a long time member of the Montgomery Kennel Club, serve currently as its president and often judge at the three days of dog shows at Garrett Coliseum in November.

I’m a regular donor to the Montgomery Humane Society and welcome whatever role it is to play under this ordinance and fully respect its objectives in whatever input it may have had in this proposed ordinance.  However, I believe that the Montgomery Humane Society’s experience and focus may not extend to a great many of the activities covered by this ordinance.

I wholeheartedly support the intent of this ordinance, and nearly all of its text, to ensure the welfare of all animals within the city of Montgomery, but do feel strongly that there are a number of provisions which are unintentionally overbroad and can be used as a hammer by persons who object to the exhibition of dogs and other animals, to the detriment of responsible animal owning citizens of the city and the detriment to the city in general.  Some of these overbroad provisions, listed as follows, may seem purely technical in nature, but the plain meaning of all provisions of this proposed ordinance (which I have read carefully) must be considered as written, not what members of this Council believe is the way the ordinance will be enforced:https://cm.montgomeryadvertiser.com/overlay/052422_MemorialDaySalePart2_inline_desktop_anon

Section 4-5 (a)(4):  An animal owner who is unable to afford its animal’s medical care for a serious injury or disease should be afforded the opportunity to deliver that animal to the Humane Shelter or take other appropriate steps for the humane euthanization of that animal without that owner being held to have committed animal cruelty.

Section 4-5 (a)(5): Requires for example that a dog’s hair must be cut and maintained to an “…optimum length and condition appropriate for the animal’s breed…”.  Every breed recognized by the American Kennel Club has a detailed written standard covering a variety of required optimum characteristics for that breed, including hair length. This quoted language might well be interpreted to extend to pets the much higher AKC hair standard for a show dog of the same breed.

Section 4-5 (b) (1):  Prohibits “baiting” of any animal.  Dog show handlers “bait” their dogs while standing in the show ring with cooked liver or other treats to get the dog’s head and ears up at attention when the dog is being inspected by the judge. The term “baiting” is known to all dog show handlers and exhibitors.

Section 4-5 (b) (2): Prohibits any “…exhibition, contests,… involving one or more animals or involving animals or humans…”.  If applied as written, this would prohibit rodeos, dog shows, horse shows, cat shows and no doubt other animal activities currently accepted as appropriate and without risk of constituting animal cruelty.  For example, a rodeo bull quite frequently tries injure the rider it has just thrown or which has managed to dismount safely.  It is obvious that calf roping, making horses buck and making bulls buck may be viewed by some as cruel or abusive. Does the city want to rid Montgomery of sanctioned rodeos?  Again, the exemption of certain activities under Section 182 only applies to fees, not to the permit/license requirement or other ordinance provisions.https://b142f965e3106e1d6afa074b40ced6a1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Section 4-10: As written, the requirement for any person to remove any dead animal or its offal, which that person observes upon any private or public property, currently applies to any person whether or not they own or are otherwise responsible for such animal. The words “leave” and “left” have dual meanings, one for active conduct and another for passive conduct. The word “leave” should replaced with “place” and the word “left” should be replaced with the word “placed”.

Section 4-13 (a) (1):  Should allow an operative and effective invisible fence as a form of “enclosure”.

Section 4-13 (b) (4):  This exception with respect to tethering should be an exception to the licensing provision of this ordinance.

Section 4-82:  There is available under state law a 3 year rabies inoculation. This ordinance should not require the annual inoculation when the 3 year inoculation has been given and has not expired.

Section 4-121:  The second paragraph allows the owner of an animal accused of being “vicious” to prove that the animal was provoked or that its alleged viciousness was justified.  For example, a dog who attacks someone assailing the dog’s owner to protect the owner should not be considered a “vicious animal”.  Therefore the first paragraph definition “vicious animal” should expressly exclude any animal where such provocation or justification is established by the owner.  Alternatively, Sections 4-122 through Sections 4-125 should, everywhere “vicious animal” or similar phrase is used, include the same provision for exclusion by the owner’s establishing provocation or justification.  The easier “fix” is to address this point in the first paragraph of Section 4 -21 definition of “Vicious Animal”.https://b142f965e3106e1d6afa074b40ced6a1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Section 4-181:  The term “Animal Business” in Section 4-181 (a) is nowhere defined.  There is an implication that the activities described in the first sentence of Section 4-181(b) are what constitute “Animal Business”.  This should be dealt with expressly rather than by implication.

Section 4-181 (a):  Why should citizens who breed their pets for personal, additional family pets and not for any commercial purpose, be required to obtain a permit?  Their doing so might be interpreted as being in the “business of breeding”.  An appropriate exclusion would confirm that such personal or family pet, non-commercial breeding does not require the permit and the annual $150 fee.  This clarification will benefit the vast majority of breeding without any adverse financial impact on pet owners and without any diminution of the “welfare” provisions of this ordinance.

Section 4-181 (b), includes “training” of animals.  Dog show exhibitors, whether professional or amateur, must train the dogs in their care to perform appropriately in the show ring.  A professional handler will pass the $150 permit fee to his or her client, who may not be able to afford that additional expense.  The amateur handler may not be able to afford that expense.  In each instance one or more persons will be discouraged from coming to Montgomery for the three days of dog shows held every November in Garrett Coliseum and, therefore, city sales and lodging taxes will be adversely impacted.

I give a copy of these remarks to the City Clerk with the sincere hope that this Council will defer passage of this ordinance tonight and will, instead, defer action until these comments and those of others have been given due consideration.https://b142f965e3106e1d6afa074b40ced6a1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Molly Martin of Pike Road is a member of the Dalmatian Club of America, National Beagle Club, Montgomery Kennel Club, and is a former instructor for the Montgomery Alabama Dog Obedience Club. Since 1995, Martin’s judging skills have carried her across the nation and around the globe to judge some of the world’s best-in-show dogs.