1998 Regular Session
To: Military Affairs
By: Representative Eaton
House Bill 835
AN ACT TO PROVIDE THAT THE MISSISSIPPI EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY SHALL ESTABLISH A PROGRAM OF CERTIFICATION FOR SEARCH AND RESCUE DOG TEAMS; TO PROVIDE THAT THE DIRECTOR OF THE AGENCY SHALL PRESCRIBE TRAINING STANDARDS FOR A HANDLER/DOG TEAM TO BE CERTIFIED FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF SEARCHES; TO PROVIDE THAT THE AGENCY MAY CONDUCT ITS OWN TRAINING FOR HANDLER/DOG TEAMS; TO PROVIDE THAT THE DIRECTOR SHALL RECOGNIZE OTHER INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDING TRAINING THAT MEETS THE AGENCY'S TRAINING STANDARDS; TO PROVIDE THAT THE AGENCY SHALL ISSUE A CERTIFICATE TO THE DOG'S HANDLER AFTER THE HANDLER/DOG TEAM HAS COMPLETED THE TRAINING FOR CERTIFICATION; TO PROVIDE THAT THE AGENCY MAY CERTIFY BY RECIPROCITY ANY HANDLER/DOG TEAM CERTIFIED BY AN AGENCY OF ANOTHER STATE HAVING TRAINING STANDARDS THAT ARE AT LEAST AS STRINGENT AS THOSE IN THIS STATE; TO PROVIDE THAT THE AGENCY SHALL CHARGE FEES FOR THE ISSUANCE AND RENEWAL OF CERTIFICATES; TO PROVIDE THAT CERTIFIED HANDLER/DOG TEAMS THAT ARE IN THE PROCESS OF CONDUCTING A SEARCH AND RESCUE, IN TRAINING, OR IN TRANSIT SHALL BE ENTITLED TO THE FULL AND EQUAL ACCOMMODATIONS, ADVANTAGES AND PRIVILEGES OF ALL PUBLIC CONVEYANCES, LODGING PLACES, BUSINESSES OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND OTHER PLACES TO WHICH THE GENERAL PUBLIC IS INVITED; TO PROHIBIT ANY PERSON FROM DEPRIVING ANY HANDLER/DOG TEAM OF ANY OF THE PRIVILEGES PROVIDED IN THIS ACT, AND FROM CHARGING THE HANDLER A FEE FOR BEING ACCOMPANIED BY THE DOG; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) The Director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency shall establish a program of certification for search and rescue dog teams, which shall be administered by the agency. A search and rescue dog team consists of a search and rescue dog and the dog's handler, hereinafter referred to a "handler/dog team."
(2) The director shall prescribe training standards that must be met for a handler/dog team to be certified for different types of searches. The types of searches include, without limitation, wilderness searches, building searches, disaster searches, urban searches, land cadaver searches and water cadaver searches. The director may provide for different levels of certification for any type of search, and shall prescribe appropriate training for each level of certification. In prescribing the training standards for certification, the director may consider the training standards of any chapter of the American Search and Rescue Association, International, Inc.
(3) The agency may conduct its own training for handler/dog teams, and may charge handlers the cost of providing the training. The director shall recognize and designate other individuals and organizations providing training that meets the training standards prescribed by the director.
(4) After a handler/dog team has successfully completed the prescribed training for certification, the agency shall issue to the dog's handler a certificate that contains a photograph of the handler, a photograph of the dog, a description of the dog's distinguishing characteristics, the types of searches for which the handler/dog team is certified, the level of certification for each type of search, and the expiration date of the certificate. The certificate shall be valid for such period of time as prescribed by the director, not exceeding two (2) years, and it is renewable if the handler/dog team meets such additional training as prescribed by the director. The agency shall charge a fee for the initial issuance of the certificate and for renewals of the certificate, in amounts set by the director. The agency shall keep records of each handler/dog team that has been certified.
(5) Any handler/dog team that is certified by an agency of another state having training standards that are at least as stringent as those prescribed by the director may be granted certification by reciprocity, upon payment of a fee to the agency.
(6) The handler of each certified handler/dog team shall prepare and maintain records of every training session participated in and every search conducted by the handler/dog team, which shall be made available to the agency upon request.
SECTION 2. (1) Whenever any handler/dog team that is certified by the agency under Section 1 of this act is (a) responding to or in the process of conducting a search and rescue, (b) in the process of search and rescue training, or (c) in transit to a search and rescue site or to a training site, the handler/dog team shall be entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of all public conveyances, hotels, lodging places, businesses open to the public for the sale of any goods or services, and all places of public accommodation, amusement, or resort and other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations applicable to all persons not accompanied by a dog, except that the dog shall not occupy a seat in any public conveyance, and the dog shall be upon a leash while using the facilities of a common carrier.
(2) The certificate issued by the agency shall be conclusive evidence that the handler/dog team has been certified and is entitled to the privileges provided in this section.
(3) No person shall deprive any handler/dog team of any of the advantages, facilities or privileges provided in this section, nor charge the dog's handler a fee or charge for being accompanied by the dog.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.