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Legal Hound

Rabbit Hunter, March 2012THE RABBIT HUNTER – The HOUND PAC has been established. This is a political action committee whose purpose is to raise funds to contribute to the campaigns of persons who are running for office who are favorable to the needs of houndsmen. These funds will be donated to persons running for the Senate or House of Representatives in the Oklahoma State Legislature, and to those candidates who oppose members of the state legislature that are not favorable to houndsmen.

The HOUND PAC cannot accept corporate gifts. The HOUND PAC cannot accept any donation from any single individual in excess of $5,000 per year. Please send all contributions to the HOUND PAC by mailing them to: HOUND PAC, 900 N.E. 63rd Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.

The following is a list of bills that will be considered in the 2012 Oklahoma state legislative session:

Current Law – The current trespass laws state that persons who willingly enter private land of another, devoted primarily to farming, ranching or forestry purposes, without permission, shall be deemed guilty of trespass and upon conviction shall be fined not less than $500. Prior to 2012, the law also contained an exemption for persons in the sole process of retrieving their domestic livestock or other animals. The passage of HB 1249 by the 2011 session of the legislature and its approval by Governor Fallin removed that exemption. Thus the current law provides no legal means for retrieving livestock or hunting dogs without first receiving permission from the owner or lawful occupier of the land.

This can create significant problems for coon hunters or other hunters using dogs in cases in which the dogs accidentally stray onto land whose owner is unknown, cannot be contacted or who refuses to grant permission for retrieval.

In an effort to solve these problems and restore a legal means of retrieving our hounds, the Oklahoma Federation of Coon hunters and the Hound Trust have worked with legislators in the drafting and introduction of the first two following two bills.

HB 2356 – This bill, introduced by State Representative Kouplen of Beggs would allow persons to retrieve their domestic livestock or other animal if they notify the county sheriff prior to entry. This exemption from prosecution for trespassing would apply only if the person has not been forbidden to enter the land, either orally or in writing, by the owner or lawful occupier of the land.

SB 1270 – This bill, introduced by State Senator Wyrick of Fairland would add the following statement to the Wildlife Conservation Code: Unless forbidden to do so, either orally or in writing, by the owner or lawful occupier of the land, persons in the sole act of retrieving their hunting dogs shall not be charged with hunting without permission or illegal trespass provided they are not carrying a firearm or attempting to take wildlife.

In effect, both of these bills, if passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor would restore our right to retrieve, which was eliminated by HB 1249 in the last legislative session.

We urge you to contact your legislators now and urge them to support these bills in the legislative session which convenes on February 6.

SB 829 – This bill was introduced by Senator Sparks into 2011 legislative session but was carried over to the 2012 session.  It proposes to raise the minimum fine for trespassing  from not less than $500 to not less than $1,500. We oppose this bill.

Laws and Bills Related to Government

Regulation of Dog Breeders

Current Law – In 2010, the legislature passed a bill, called the Commercial Pet Breeders Act, which was designed to license, inspect, and regulate commercial dog breeders. This bill was signed by Governor Fallin and is now the law.

Fortunately, it applies only to those with 11 or more intact females. The following bills have been introduced and propose changes in the Commercial Pet Breeders Act.

SB 15 – This bill, by Senator Brecheen, was introduced into the 2011 legislative session but was carried over to the 2012 session. The bill proposes to completely repeal the Commercial Pet Breeders Act. As we argued last year, the bureaucracy required to implement the Commercial Pet Breeders Act is expensive, unnecessary and likely to be ineffective. We support this bill

SB 128 – This bill, by Senator Schultz, was introduced into the 2011 legislative session but was carried over to the 2012 session. This bill would keep the Commercial Pet Breeders Act intact but would amend the law by defining “Hunting Dogs,” “Sporting Dogs,” and “Working Dogs” and adding a new section stating that hunting, sporting and working dogs are not subject to the provisions of the Commercial Pet Breeders Act. We support this bill.

SB 773 – This bill, by Senator Fields, was introduced into the 2011 legislative session but was carried over to the 2012 session.  In its current amended form, it would amend the current law by defining “Hunting Dogs,” “Sporting Dogs,” and “Working Dogs” and adding a new section stating that hunting, sporting and working dogs are not subject to the provisions of the Commercial Pet Breeders Act. We support this bill.

SB 1323 – According to current law, a dog kennel may not be located within 2,500 feet of a school or day care facility. This bill, by Senator Holt, would reduce the restrictive distance from 2,500 feet to 500 feet.

Other Bills Which May be of Interest

SB 1007 – The current law permits county commissioners of counties with populations of 200,000 or more to regulate, tax or prohibit the running at large of dogs within the county. This bill, by Senator Stanislawski, would expand this authority to all counties in the state. We oppose this bill.

SB 1077 – This bill, by Senator Allen, authorizes the sheriff of any county to enforce any animal nuisance ordinances adopted by a municipality within their county if such disturbance occurs within one-half mile of a municipal boundary.

SB 1420 – This bill, by Senator Shortey, proposes to outlaw the use of laser sights while hunting. Because many coon hunters find these sights to be a very effective and humane means of taking raccoons treed by their dogs while hunting at night, we oppose this bill.

The Legislative Web Site, http://www.oklegislature.gov, is an excellent source of information. Using it, you can track a bill, print out a full copy of the bill, find the name of any legislator, find the member of each legislative committee, find out how legislators vote, and find contact information on all legislators.

If you will provide your email address to John Thornton, chairman of the legislative committee of the Oklahoma Federation of Coon Hunters, he will make every effort to keep you informed. You can reach John at zooljwt@aim.com or 405-377-3797.

We recently have held two organizational meetings which were well attended, the first being comprised primarily of coon  hunters. The second meeting was comprised of representatives of the pet professionals and rabbit, hog, bird and wolf hunters.

We are making every effort to include all persons who hunt with dogs in our group; hopefully this will increase our strength in the political process.

Roy Ingram, president of the Oklahoma Federation of Coon Hunters, will serve as our legislative representative (lobbyist) in the 2012 state legislative session. If there are others among our readers who would be willing to assist Roy with this effort, please notify us as soon as possible. You may contact me by calling 1-800-739-2235.

During the past years that I have worked on behalf of houndsmen, I have been contacted many times by hunters who have had their dogs shot or killed wanting me to represent them.

Instead of representing these houndsmen I have referred them to quailified attorneys in their area. Because of my experience in raising, breeding and competition hunting coonhounds, I have offered to serve as an expert witness in their case.

I have been in the practice of law in excess of 45 years and my practice is in the field of personal injury litigation. I practice in Oklahoma but also in other states. If you or a family member are in need of legal representation because of a personal injury I would be happy to talk to you about the matter if you call me.

By Ed Abel, 405-239-7046