June 1, 2021

Michigan Legislation Could Impact How You Hunt with Your Dog

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager


Why it matters: As hunters, one of our most prized possessions, and often one of our most expensive, are our dogs. We would not do anything to put their health and wellbeing in jeopardy. However, HB 4784 and SB 395 could restrict our ability to recreate with our four-legged companions by dictating where and how we house them. These restrictions will have an impact on how we transport our dogs, where we stay, and how we train and hunt with our dogs. It would limit temporary housing solutions like transport crates, vehicles, and trailers unless certain conditions are met, regardless of temperature or weather conditions.  

Sportsmen and women take enormous pride in our four-legged hunting companions. For many, spending time in the field with dogs is a major reason we hunt. However, our excursions often require us to kennel our dogs in truck beds, on chain tie-outs, in trailers, kennels, crates, or other temporary shelters. Hunters take every precaution to ensure our dogs’ comfort and safety. Despite this, proposed Michigan legislation could affect how we house our dogs and limit our ability to house them overnight while on a hunt.

House Bill 4784 states, “Unless modified to create shelter that provides adequate protection from the elements … a structure under this subparagraph does not include … metal or plastic barrels, animal carriers, transport crates, or wire crates that are designed to provide temporary housing. A structure under this subparagraph does not include the space under a vehicle, inside a vehicle that is not running appropriate climate controls while under adult supervision, … or shelters with wire or chain-link floors.” This could limit a hunter’s or camper’s ability to keep their dog outside in a crate overnight, on a chain tie-out, or alone in a vehicle when safe to do so.

Senate Bill 395 states, “If the outside temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, a dog may be outside for a maximum of 30 consecutive minutes and then the dog must be brought inside an enclosure heated to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit that otherwise qualifies as a shelter under this section for at least 30 minutes…” Though the bill does provide exclusions for dogs actively participating in activities like hunting, it fails to account for dog breeds that are well-adapted to subfreezing temperatures and allowed to remain outdoors for rest.

Unfortunately, we are seeing similar legislation in other states across the country. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is working with both national and in-state partners, as well as Michigan Sportsmen’s Caucus members, are working to ensure that policies reflect the needs of hunters while ensuring the safety and welfare of our four-legged companions.

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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