State Legislation

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2001:
State legislation

Pending in the Oregon legislature is a bill by state senator Ryan Deckert (D-Beaverton) to amend the state anti-cruelty law to give more evidentiary weight to testimony about the behavior of animal victims. The amendment would help in prosecuting cases involving electroshock, improper confinement, and harassment, which may drive an animal insane without leaving physical evidence. Also pending in Oregon is an anti-bestiality bill by state senators Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and John Minnis (R-Wood Village). Minnis unsuccessfully introduced a similar bill in 1995.

Illinois state representative Tom Dart (D-Chicago) on February 5 introduced a bill to allow judges in animal hoarding cases to order psychiatric evaluation of the defendants, and oblige defendants to share the cost of caring for their impounded animals.

The Minnesota and New Hampshire legislatures are considering bills meant to reduce dog attacks. The Minnesota bill, by state representative Andy Dawkins (DFL-St. Paul) would require dogs who bite to be microchipped, so that animal control officers can more easily identify chronic biters. The New Hampshire bill, by state representative Richard Brewster (R-Andover) would require public hearings before permits could be given to keep pit bull terriers, Rottweilers, and Dobermans. Of 1,063 life-threatening and fatal dog attacks logged by the Editor of ANIMAL PEOPLE since 1982, 495 were by pit bulls, 238 were by Rottweilers, and 20 were by pit/Rott mixes. Just five were by Dobermans.

Upholding an Iowa state ban on dove hunting in effect since 1918, Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, on January 30 vetoed a bill to allow dove hunting that the Repub-lican state house and senate majorities had rushed to pass as their first matter of legislative business. “This issue has been decided,” Vilsack said. “Iowans now expect the legislature to focus on issues important to Iowa’s families.”

A bill by Colorado state senator Deanna Hanna (D-Lakewood) to cut the minimum holding period for impounded dogs from five days to three has cleared the state senate agriculture committee. “The purpose of this bill is to give shelter managers discretion to put down unadoptable animals and leave room for shelters to keep adoptable pets longer,” Hanna said. Shelter managers argue that about 90% of lost animals who are ever reclaimed are reclaimed within three days of arrival. Animal advocates have usually fought for longer holding periods, reflecting the pre-1990 era when returns of lost pets to homes typically far exceeded adoptions of adult animals.┬áMost shelters now receive a fraction as many animals as then, and adoptions have soared, while returns to homes are up only slightly. As dog intakes have fallen, actual numbers of dogs deemed unadoptable due to bad temperament have remained relatively static–but are sharply up as a percentage of intake.

Washington state senator Julia Patterson (D-SeaTac) in January introduced a bill to ban forced molts, which involve prolonged starvation of hens to induce a new egg-laying cycle, while state representative Mike Cooper (D-Lynnwood) introduced a bill to ban battery caging and debeaking.

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