From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2001:
Louisiana Governor Mike Foster “has signed six pieces of pro-animal legislation,” Pinckney Woods of The Humane Heart reported on July 13, summarizing the most successful legislative session achieved by animal advocates in any state so far in 2001. Some state legislatures will reconvene in the fall, but few states still have pro-animal bills pending with a chance of passage.
The Humane Heart itself won passage of SB 925, by state senator Paulette Irons, which mandates cross-reporting to both animal and human welfare agencies when investigations of violence or neglect find evidence that the victims may include both animals and humans.
The Coalition of Louisiana Animal Advocates won passage of bills to create a Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission, amend the state law against dogfighting to make the penalties consistent with those for aggravated cruelty, and provide for the adoption or donation of horses whose owners are not identified. Louisiana law formerly required that confiscated horses must be sold to the highest bidder.
The League In Support of Animals won a law stipulating that dogfighting paraphernalia is admissible evidence in cases of alleged dogfighting.
The American SPCA won a law defining as “dangerous” any dog who makes two unprovoked attacks on a person or animal within three years, and as “vicious” any dog who seriously injures or kills a person after being classified “dangerous.” Owners who fail to restrain or confine dangerous dogs may be fined $300.
The ASPCA also pushed two bills which cleared the Illinois Assembly on May 31 but as of August 1 were still awaiting the signature of Governor George H. Ryan. SB 629 would require counseling for people convicted of mass neglect of companion animals; HB 2391 would standardize requirements for euthanasia technicians, use and storage of euthanasia drugs, and use of carbon monoxide gas chambers.
Five years after Pennsylvania animal advocates began seeking a state bill to ban the use of doubledeck trailers to haul horses, Governor Tom Ridge on June 25 signed into law HB 1139, by state representative Jim Lynch, which does it. Earlier versions were opposed by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, lest it be used to halt the use of doubledeck trailers for hauling cattle, hogs, and poultry.
Maine freshman state representative Bernard McGowan (D-Pittsfield) won passage of his first bill in May when Governor Angus King signed legislation establishing that dog owners are liable for injuries inflicted by dogs roaming at large. The McGowan bill also imposes a fine of $1,000 for allowing a dog to attack a trained guide dog or service dog.
Perhaps the most unusual animal-related bill passed during spring legislative sessions was a ban on releasing genetically modified fish into Maryland waterways other than isolated lakes and ponds, signed on April 10 by Maryland Governor Parris Glendening. Escapes of genetically modified fish into the wild have already become a controversial issue in several parts of the world where fish farming competes with native fisheries, but Maryland may be the first jurisdiction to address the matter other than through conventional laws prohibiting the introduction of non-native species.
Montana Governor Judy Martz on May 1 signed a bill defining prairie dogs as both “pests” and “nongame wildlife in need of management.” The bill somewhat restricts recreational prairie dog shooting on public lands, seeking to avoid federal protection of prairie dogs as a threatened species.
New legislation in Vermont creates two-day deer and turkey hunting seasons for youths 15 and under, and in Alaska creates a big game season for children 8-17 when escorted by a parent or legal guardian.
New anti-terrorism laws directed against actions of the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front were passed in Utah and Oregon, and are expected to pass in several other states. Banning the use of “any physical object, sound wave, light ray, electronic signal, or other means” that interferes with the “operation of a business,” the Utah legislation has already been challenged as allegedly overbroad by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Oregon legislation extends the state anti-racketeering statute to cover crimes against “research, livestock, and agricultural facilities,” and criminalizes “interference with agricultural research.”