Late last year Governor Hochul signed Senate Bill 4254 (now Chapter 545), which states, “With respect to homeowners’ insurance policies…no insurer shall refuse to issue or renew, cancel, or charge or impose an increased premium or rate…based solely upon harboring or owning any dog of a specific breed or mixture of breeds.” Insurance companies may cancel, increase rates, or refuse to issue policies if a dog is declared dangerous as defined in New York State Law, so long as the action is based on “sound underwriting and actuarial principles” and the action is reasonably related to actual or anticipated loss. However, the action cannot be based on the dog’s breed.
This change in State Law has required us to make changes to our NYS 4-H Dog Policies to make sure they follow this change in relation to breed restrictions. The proposed new policy was released to 4-H staff in March, which among other things removed reference to Dogs of Special Concern and removed the exemption form process that was designed to create a path for Associations to include Dogs from the breeds of concern list. We have since received several questions regarding the policy change from educators and Executive Directors, specifically as related to the updated registration form for 4-H Dog participants which asked for proof of insurance. In response to these concerns, we have met with Jamie Ferris (P.W. Wood) and Sarah Dayton (CCE Associate Director) and will be making two important changes to the new policy.
Understanding that 4-H enrollment processes and Dog programs are already underway, we are allowing Associations to hold off on implementing the new policy and forms until the new 4-H year, starting October 1, 2022. You may continue to use the previous policy enrollment form until October 1, 2022. Associations are of course welcome to begin using the new policy and forms prior to October 1 if you choose.
We have removed the word REQUIREMENT from the new registration form, where we ask if the owner of the Dog involved in the 4-H program has Homeowner or Renters Insurance and if the Dog is included in that coverage. We will still ask this question and the participant must check either yes or no, however, we are not asking you to exclude youth/dogs from your program if they check no.
The updated policy is posted below and also is housed here: NYS 4-H Policies — New York State 4-H Youth Development
This policy applies to all youth and adults who participate in any CCE 4-H program with a dog, bring their dog with them to any 4-H/CCE program or activity, or participate in a 4-H sponsored dog obedience class.
All dogs are the responsibility of the owner, and the owner is fully and completely responsible for their own actions and the actions of the dog.
All dogs must be registered through the 4H/CCE Registration process.
Participants must have proof of updated rabies vaccination for any dog that will be present at a 4-H program.
CCE is prohibited from sponsoring rabies clinics or any other type of animal immunization clinic.
Dogs should only be permitted on CCE premises or allowed access to CCE activities in the following circumstances: a . The dog is a seeing-eye guide dog supporting a visually impaired employee, volunteer, or program participant b. The dog is under the care of an enrolled 4-H club member participating in a 4-H dog club or activity c. The dog is under the supervision of a person who is participating in a 4-H dog obedience program taught by an approved instructor
Dogs with impairments such as blindness or deafness are allowed to participate in CCE 4-H programs. Dogs that are lame or have other health challenges may participate if the handler brings a statement from a veterinarian stating that use as a 4-H project dog will not be harmful to the animal.
4-H leaders, superintendents, and instructors have the authority to dismiss or place restrictions on dogs from any activity when they exhibit aggressive, dangerous, or other problematic behaviors, and/or are not being properly controlled by the owner or handler of the dog. When this occurs, the leaders and superintendents must inform the 4-H staff leadership of their decision and work with CCE to develop an appropriate remediation plan. The safety of youth and adult participants, and other dogs, takes precedence in these situations. Every effort should be made to see that the 4-H participant is not excluded from the activity.
Dogs that are being utilized in an educational exhibit or demonstration, such as fire prevention or safety display, must not be accessible to the public unless they are under the control of the 4-H member who owns the dog.
CCE Prohibits the use of Wolves, Wolf Hybrids, or Animals found to be Dangerous under the provisions of the Agriculture and Markets Law Section 123.
For questions or concerns please reach out to Dana Palmer.