April 19, 2021

5 Bills to Watch if you Hunt with Dogs in the Southeast

Article Contact: Mark Lance,

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator


Why it Matters: Sportsmen and women have a rich history of hunting with dogs, and hunters place great value on providing their loved four-legged canine companions with good care and well-maintained kennels.

As legislative sessions have convened across the Southeast, several bills related to hunting with dogs, substandard kennels, and tethering have been introduced across the region. Hunting with dogs is a long-standing tradition in many Southeastern states and remains a prominent pastime in hunting. Sportsmen and women who hunt with dogs should not be placed with undue burdens that would restrict their ability to maintain, train and hunt with their beloved companions. 

AL House Bill 551: Prohibits the tethering of dogs under certain circumstances (temperature, weather, certain time periods, etc.). Tethering is a useful training tool for sportsmen and women. Dogs must not only learn basic commands to be successful in the field, but they must also become acclimated to certain weather conditions. If an individual does not have a fenced-in area, the responsible practice of tethering is the next best option. House Bill 551 has not received a hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.

FL Senate Bill 650: Would not allow for an individual to tether a dog while absent. The legislation attempts to exempt hunting dogs, but many times an individual may tether an animal at home as part of a training regimen. Senate Bill 650 is pending in the Senate Committee on Community Affairs. 

GA Senate Bill 303: Labels any individual who owns at least 2 dogs and sells the offspring thereof as a “commercial breeder” and would not allow a person to house over 20 dogs in one “facility.” This legislation would be detrimental to small scale sporting dog kennel owners as well as everyday sportsmen who own 2 or more dogs. Senate Bill 303 has not moved since being assigned to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.

SC Senate Bill 186: Relates to animal cruelty and responsible training techniques. Sportsmen and women dedicate a tremendous amount of time to training dogs to perform certain tasks in a myriad of different weather conditions and removing the exemption for hunting dogs from the statute is unneeded and would only serve as another barrier to participation in hunting. Senate Bill 186 has not moved since being assigned to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources in January.

TN Senate Bill 511: Requires the owners of 10 or more intact females to register as a commercial dog breeder. Small-scale sporting dog kennels would have been subjected to the same regulatory oversight as well as pay the same fees as large commercial dog breeding operations. SB 511 was referred to a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.

If you are interested in keeping up-to-date on legislation impacting hunting dogs and other issues relevant to sportsmen and women, sign up for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s Tracking the Capitols

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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