I found another interesting bit of news on the Veterinary Practice News website, with this article concerning a new anti-animal hoarding bill being reviewed in Vermont.
The article includes the following information on the bill’s details on what is deem to fall under animal hoarding –
• Possesses five or more animals;
• Fails to provide adequate food, water, shelter, rest, sanitation, or necessary medical attention or transports an animal in overcrowded vehicles;
• Keeps the animals in a severely overcrowded environment; and
• Displays an inability to recognize or understand the nature of or has a reckless disregard for the conditions under which the animals are living and the deleterious impact they have on the animals’ health and well-being.
Those found guilty under this proposed law could fact a year in prison, a much as a $2,000 fine or both. “Humane officers” would also have the authority to seize an animal without a search warrant, where the animal ‘s life or health is at immediate risk.
Veterinary Practice News also reports the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) has stepped in again with its concerns, this time about warrentless searches.
As I was reading this story, I contemplated two areas where some people might have concerns – the warrentless searches and the suggestion that having five dogs means you might be a hoarder.
I think the legislature needs to clear this these areas up early on, before opponents get too upset about this. This is where politicians – even the ones with good intentions – can run the train off the rails because the message is framed so poorly.
They need to confirm for all concerned that the number alone will not constitute hoarding; that the state of well-being of the pets will be the primary factor in charging someone with this crime. People can have a dozen or so pets and offer a great, loving environment for them.
And it needs to be established that only in cases where there is an immediate concern for the safety and/or health of the animals will the officer seize them. This is case for officers responding to a 911 call. If the police have a clear reason to believe someone is in danger inside the home, they don’t need a search warrant to enter.
If I see someone stabbing their dog inside their house and I call 911, the officer should be able to enter the home without a search warrant, just as they would if I saw this same individual assaulting a human family member.
Prop B in Missouri ran into controversy over the use of the term “unfettered access” to the outdoors. People argued – wrongly – that this meant puppies would be freezing to death all over the place. If someone had taken the time to clear this up in the text – to confirm that common sense and doors could be operated during harsh conditions – that segment of the controversy might have been avoided.