Article highlights weakness in current animal-cruelty regulations

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Ignorance as a primary factor in animal-cruelty cases was the primary theme for an article posted November 30 on the Topeka Capital-Journal website.

But the article also notes how much local law enforcement agencies can be handcuffed by current regulations. Which clearly indicates these current regulations do not offer enough protections for animals suffering from abuse.

So when you read a statement or hear someone state that enforcement of current regulations is all that needs to happen – and claim new laws are not needed, we know these claims have little basis in reality.

The Topeka Capital-Journal piece offers this:

Unless the situation is life-threatening, officers can’t do much within the first three to four days of a complaint.

And this:

Officers also have authority to act under exigent circumstances — those instances in which they know an animal will die if they don’t intervene immediately, Hamilton said.

But it seems in cases of severe suffering, but where the officer might not be able to show the animal is about to die, they cannot act to rescue the pet immediately.

We need stronger regulations nationwide. Clearly, animals can be suffering greatly where the abuse is not to a level where they are going to die immediately. We see this often in puppy-mill cases, where the abuse had to reach horrible levels before

 

How does an anti-dog fighting bill stall in the US House?

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The current Farm Bill contains a provision to criminalize attending an animal-fighting event – at the federal level. And a StarGazette.com article notes:

Spectators would face additional charges if they brought a minor to witness the fight.

How both of these activities are not already federal crimes – serious federal crimes – is beyond unbelievable. But the article also reminds readers that last year’s Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act somehow stalled in the US House.

It’s good that the Farm Bill contains the provisions. But on the down side, the penalties are way too soft. Attending an animal fight could lead to a year in prison and a fine. Bringing a minor to a animal fight could lead to three years in prison. In both cases, the offenders will most likely spend far less time behind bars.

But overall, how is it that there is a debate going on about punishing people who take part in animal-fighting rings and how is it that politicians are dragging their feet on punishing people who bring kids to dog fights?

 

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Pennsylvania legislature passes new animal-welfare bill

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Despite some setbacks across the map, the animal-welfare movement is seeing forward progress and some key wins. Pennsylvania joined the list of positive results this week, with the passage of its “Cost of Care” bill in the state legislature. And reports indicate Governor Corbett will sign it into law.

The legislation means those accused of animal cruelty will be required to pay a set amount of money to help cover the cost of food and medical care for animals seized in these cases. As it stands now, animal shelters are forced to cover the costs of care as the cases make their way to completion.

If those accused of crimes challenge the payments, a hearing will be held where “humane officers must prove their case,” according to a post Wednesday on the Philly Dawg blog on Philly.com.

Philly Dawg noted the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau pushed to exempt farm animals and dogs in puppy mills. And as expected, the American Kennel Club urged the Governor to veto the bill (big surprise, right?). The AKC reportedly suggested that despite the hearing system, the law would violate the due process rights of the accused.
Again, we have groups fighting to protect those who abuse animals. Those of us fighting to protect animals from abuse, torture and neglect are disgusted by these efforts to defend the abusers.
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Nitro’s Law is now the law in Ohio

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Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Nitro’s Law on Sunday. The legislation carries the name of a Rottweiler who was among eight dogs who died from starvation at a dog-training facility.

The guilty party was sentenced to only four months in jail, because at the time it was minor misdemeanor. As has been the case too many times over too many years in too many states, acts of extremely cruelty have been met with less than a slap on the wrist.

So this new law targets cruelty at licensed kennels in the state. But as is the case with other stories, there’s the good news and some bad news. An Examiner.com article explains:

Nitro’s Law affects all commercial breeding, boarding, and training facilities. The law, however has no relevance to large scale breeding operations known as puppy mills.

Another step in the right direction, but the puppy millers manage to slip away in the night.

 

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Six new animal-welfare bills signed into law in Hawaii

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On Wednesday, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed six bills into law, all designed to protect animals. Hopefully, more states will follow Hawaii’s lead and the growing trend to protect animals in other states. While the progress is slow, we are seeing movement in the right direction – a movement to the side of compassion.

A KHON 2 article reviewed each of the six laws, noting one bans steel-jawed traps. Another law will help punish those who run puppy mills. For anyone found guilty of misdemeanor animal cruelty involving at least 10 animals, the penalty will bump up to the felony level. And the guilty party could get up to five years in prison. They will also be banned from possessing animals for up to five years.

The ban should be for a lifetime – or at least far more than five years. So I do have a problem with this provision.

Law enforcement animals will gain better protections; pet deposits will allowed for tenants with pets and a system will be in place to allow for the collection of restitution funds to help local animal welfare groups care for abuse victims.

We do need to see more severe criminal penalties imposed across the board, at the state and federal levels. Those who abuse animals should not walk free and those found guilty in more extreme cases should spend a lot of time behind bars.

 

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Legislative news out of Alabama and Texas

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The Waco Tribune-Herald reported last week on a proposal to require most Waco, Texas pet guardians to have their pets spay or neutered and microchipped. The proposal came from the city’s Animal Welfare Advisory Board.

The article states:

The proposal would prohibit keeping or selling intact animals unless the owner is registered with the city as a breeder or the animal is younger than 4 months or medically unfit for sterilization.

And there is some really good news out of the Circle Road animal shelter, where the monthly rate of euthanasia for homeless animals dropped from 45 percent last December to a reported all-time low of 16 percent in April.

In Alabama at last report, a bill that would increase the criminal penalties for acts of animal cruelty just needed the Governor’s signature. Under the law, a Class A misdemeanor those found guilty could serve up to a year in jail and face a $1,000 fine.

Extreme acts of torture to animals could become Class C felonies, according to Fox 10 TV.

 

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Opponents of puppy mill bills say the craziest things

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Try as I might to avoid commenting on another person’s competence, sometimes I just … can’t … seem … to …. avoid …. it.

As previously noted, a puppy mill bill is working its way through the North Carolina General Assembly. The provisions are very basic and include standards of care that everyone should provide for ALL pets.

The debate in the NC House took a disturbing route last week when Rep. Michael Speciale (R-Craven) tried to claim the requirements in the bill were too ambiguous:

“‘Exercise on a daily basis’ – if I kick him across the floor, is that considered daily exercise?” said Speciale. “’Euthanasia performed humanely’– so should I choose the axe or the baseball bat?”

Thankfully, Rep. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan) responded by rightfully depicting Speciale’s take as “disgusting” and “disrespectful.”

WRAL reports he tried to defend – if you can call it that – his comments. If not for his defense, we might consider he was merely making a point that the provisions are not strong enough. But Speciale’s intentions seem more on the side of blocking protections for dogs housed in puppy mills.

 

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North Carolina First Lady is backing state’s puppy mill bill

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North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s wife Ann McCrory is reportedly lobbying for the passage of a puppy mill bill, currently working its way through the state’s General Assembly. The Governor might be putting himself in a odd spot if it decides to hesitate in signing the bill.

The Charlotte Observer quoted Ann McCrory as saying:

“Passing legislation to establish basic standards of care for large commercial breeding facilities is a very important issue to me and to people across our state,” Ann McCrory wrote. “These policies increase our quality of life in North Carolina and ensure better care for dogs across our state.”

I wish HB930 did more. It needed an inspection system and licensing. The Charlotte Observer article reports the current bill does not cover “kennels that provide boarding or training, even if only a single dog is boarded” or breeders who breed “show dogs, hunting dogs, sporting dogs or field dogs.” All dogs should be covered by the very basic protections in the bill.

I’ll have more on this legislation coming up. One elected official is getting some blow-back after a very harsh statement in opposition to the effort to protect dogs from cruelty.

 

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Breaking News: NC House votes big on new puppy mill bill

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This is news out of my home state. So it’s big news for me. By a vote of 100-15, the North Carolina House of Representatives has passed a bill that will hopefully protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities.

HB 930 will still need a positive vote in the NC Senate before advancing to Governor Pat McCrory’s desk. I’m seriously hoping the margin of victory in the House is a sign of what could happen in the Senate.

Again, I wish this bill included more – like inspections and a mandatory licensing system. But it is a positive step in the right direction. I’m also hoping that the margin in the vote tally is a sign that elected officials are finally catching the message from the population – that we no longer want to see animals abused at the hands of people who put profit above all – even to a degree where animals are tortured to increase the bottom line.

This is happening every day in puppy mills in North Carolina and all across the nation. It needs end – now.

The HSUS press release in full:

“” “”

North Carolina House of Representatives  Cracks Down on Puppy Mills

(May 9, 2013) — The North Carolina House of Representatives passed legislation to ensure dogs are treated humanely in commercial breeding facilities. The bill, which passed the House with a 100-15 vote, is sponsored by Reps. Jason Saine, R-97, Rayne Brown, R-81, Chuck McGrady, R-117, and Nathan Ramsey, R-115. It next goes to the state Senate.

Kimberley Alboum, North Carolina state director for The Humane Society of the United States said: “This is a great step forward for the dogs in North Carolina. If passed, this legislation will help thousands of dogs living in commercial breeding facilities, and I am proud of our sponsors and supporters for their efforts to relieve suffering for so many animals in our state.”

Continue reading

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West Virginia Governor signs new breeding regulations into law

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West Virginia joins the ranks of states with dog-breeding regulations, as the effort to combat puppy mills grows. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed the breeding bill and and another piece of legislation that establishes the West Virginia Spay Neuter Assistance Program and Fund.

The North Country Gazette reports –

SB 437 requires anyone keeping more than 10 intact dogs for the purpose of breeding to provide each dog with solid flooring, protection from the elements, adequate lighting, food, water, veterinary care and sanitary conditions.

The new law also bans the practice of housing dogs in stacked crates and dictates that only licensed veterinarians should euthanize any of the breeder’s dogs. And the breeders will need certification from a veterinarian to breed each dog.

 

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