From drunk hunters to a Republican who wants to ban elephants: State Legislative roundup, 2002
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2002:
Frustrated that North Carolina law forbids hunting on state
land while under the influence of alcohol, but not on private
property, the Orange County commissioners sent a message to the
statehouse on January 15 by passing their own anti-drunk hunting
ordinance, and asked the three biggest cities within the
county–Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough–to do the same.
Neighboring Caswell County passed a similar ordinance in 2001.
Hunters typically get whatever they want from state
legislatures, however, due to the disproportionate influence of
rural representatives with long tenures as committee chairs, and
2002 started out the usual way, when the Maine legislature on
January 6 ratified a plan by the Department of Inland Fisheries and
Wildlife to expand coyote snaring in order to increase the deer herd.
Maine legislators solicited the plan in late 2001 after
hunters in several areas complained that coyotes were killing more
deer than the hunters were–although many of the deer coyotes kill
have previously been wounded by hunters who failed to dispatch them,
have been hit by cars, or are debilitated by starvation after an
over-abundant herd consumes all the accessible browse too early in
The demand for coyote trapping came after the Department of
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife told the Maine legislature that it is
not possible to kill the 70% of the coyote population who must be
killed year after year to keep coyote numbers below the carrying
capacity of the habitat. Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
mammal biologist Wally Jakubas also reported that of 94 trapped
coyotes whose carcasses he has examined, 58 died prolonged and
The Maryland house of delegates in early February approved
bills to allow deer hunting on Sundays, for the first time since
hunting has been regulated in the state, and authorize the hunting
of so-called “nuisance” black bears, even if they do not threaten
humans, livestock, or property.
A similar bear hunting bill is reportedly advancing in the
Colorado legislature, after the state senate killed a broader
attempt to overturn an anti-spring bear hunting initiative approved
by state voters in 1992.
The Washington state senate on February 19 voted to repeal
the anti-trapping initiative passed by 55% of the state electorate in
November 2000. [See Editorial, page 3.] Each Washington county
holds one senate seat. The outcome may differ in the state house,
where representation is proportional.
Bills to establish felony penalties for extreme cruelty to
animals cleared their first committee reviews in early 2002 in
Colorado, Florida, and Virginia.
Felony cruelty bills were also introduced in Indiana, and
were expected to be introduced in Ohio and West Virginia. American
SPCA regional representative Ledy Van Kavage told ANIMAL PEOPLE on
February 23 that the Indiana bill had been strengthened in committee
by amendment, along with a bill to establish a felony penalty for
the combined possession of dogs injured by fighting and equipment
used to train dogs to fight. The idea behind this bill is to
facilitate more convictions of dogfighters who manage to halt fights
before raiding police officers actually see the dogs in action.
Frustrated by opposition in the Arkansas legislature,
repeatedly rallied against proposed felony cruelty bills by the
Arkansas Farm Bureau, Citizens for a Humane Arkansas on January 31
announced an effort to collect the 57,000 signatures of registered
votes needed to put a felony cruelty bill on the November 2002
Thirty-one states plus the District of Columbia already have
felony penalties for some types of cruelty to animals, usually with
broad exemptions for farmers, hunters, fishers, and trappers. New
Jersey in August 2001 became the most recent state to adopt a felony
In Virginia, where the Richmond SPCA recently went no-kill
under an agreement with the Richmond Division of Animal Control
modeled after the Adoption Pact in effect since 1994 in San
Francisco, state legislative delegate John M. O’Bannon III of
Richmond on January 27 introduced an anti-animal abandonment bill at
request of Save Our Strays, a small no-kill group which vehemently
opposed the Richmond SPCA plan. SOS has contended that the Richmond
SPCA going no-kill will increase animal abandonment, although animal
abandonment rapidly decreased in other cities after petkeepers gained
confidence that surrendered animals would no longer immediately be
Feral cat caretakers are wary of the bill, which according
to an SOS press release provides that, “Animals left unattended for
five days may be considered the property of the person who owns the
location where the animals have taken up residence.” This enables
the property owner to dispose of the animals.
The Richmond SPCA “took no position” on the bill, executive
director Robin Starr told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “I think it is okay in
theory,” Starr added, “but impossible to actually enforce in any
meaningful way. It was not to my knowledge intended as a
kill-the-ferals bill, although I see how it could be construed that
Kentucky house agriculture and small business committee chair
Roger Thomas and representative Stephen Nunn on February 4 introduced
a bill to strengthen enforcement of the 1954 and 1958 state
requirements that each county must enforce rabies vaccination of dogs
and maintain a dog pound. A series of surveys and lawsuits conducted
since 1996 by Trixie Foundation founder and no-kill shelter operator
Randy Skaggs has established that at least 67 of the 120 Kentucky
counties appear to be out of compliance with the old laws.
The Thomas/Nunn bill would raise the Kentucky dog license fee
from $1.50 to $5.00, of which $4.50 would remain within each county
to fund shelter maintenance. It would also require the state
Department of Agriculture to set standards for animal shelters,
make the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General responsible for
enforcing the standards; “lower the mandatory holding period for
impounded dogs from 7 days to 5 days,” presumably to prevent
overcrowding; “require animal shelters to keep certain records on
all impounded dogs”; extend rabies vaccination requirements to cats
and ferrets, as well as dogs; “prohibit anyone from keeping a
vicious dog”; and “prohibit dogs from violating local nuisance
Because Thomas holds the influential position that he does,
the bill is rated a good change of passage.
North Carolina state veterinarian David Marshall was in late
February reportedly preparing to ask the state legislature to
strengthen the almost 30-year-old North Carolina animal shelter
inspection code to improve enforcability. Marshall’s office
inspected 20 private nonprofit animal shelters in 1996. By 2001,
the number of registered nonprofit animal shelters in North Carolina
had increased to 54.
“Five to 10% of them could use some serious work, and put us
in a position to make tough decisions. The problem seems to be
growing,” Marshall told Associated Press.
Wake County Animal Control director Dicke Sloop told
Associated Press that the same inspection requirements should be
extended to public animal control facilities.
But North Carolina Agriculture Department spokesperson Mike
Blanton was skeptical that the legislature could be persuaded to give
Marshall the budget needed to inspect public as well as private
An extended inspection requirement might force cities and
counties to increase local taxes to bring their animal control
facilities up to standard.
Wisconsin legislators have not yet responded to the September
2001 veto by Governor Scott McCallum of language inserted into a
budget bill by state representative Marc Duff (R-New Berlin) which
authorized the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and
Consumer Protection to hire staff to enforce a mandate to develop and
enforce humane standards and licensing requirements for any pet
breeder, pet store, or animal shelter either selling or offering to
sell more than 25 dogs or cats per year. McCallum also vetoed a
provision raising the state-set minimum fee for dog licenses by $1.50
for sterilized dogs and $2.00 for unsterilized dogs, in order to pay
for the standard-setting, licensing, and inspection processes. The
mandate to develop and enforce standards, however, remained intact.
California Governor Gray Davis signed a similar bill in
September 2001. Like the Wisconsin bill, it was aimed mainly at
“backyard breeders” and “puppy mills,” as most shelters were
believed to already meet basic care standards.
Efforts to extend shelter inspection are also underway in
Colorado, Kansas, and New York. The Kansas office of the attorney
general opined in early 2001 that the existing Kansas Pet Animal Act
covers animal fostering, as well as formal sheltering. The Kansas
Animal Health Department has been working since May 2001 to develop a
workable protocol for supervising animal foster homes.
Sales of special vehicular license plates are so far the most
popular state-level legislative approach to helping communities fund
animal care-and-control services, although the history of such
programs indicates that the revenues peak early and fast taper off as
the variety of license plate fundraising schemes increases.
Illinois Governor George Ryan on January 11, 2002 authorized
a plan to use license plate sales to fund pet sterilization,
advanced by PAWS-Chicago and the American SPCA. Sold for $40 per
set, the Illinois license plates will provide $25 from each sale to
A similar bill introduced by Georgia state senator Robert
Brown cleared the Georgia senate finance and public utilities
committee in February and went to the senate rules committee, whose
chair, David Scott, reportedly pledged to move it to the senate
floor at an appropriate time.
In Tennessee, however, a pending bill (SB 2929) would shift
an existing license plate fundraising program from the department of
health to the department of agriculture, and would divert some of
the revenue from license plate sales into inspecting vehicles hauling
dogs and cats. The bill appears to have been inspired by a May 2000
case in which 147 purebred puppies were stranded in a van that broke
down in Nashville, en route from Do Bo Tri Kennels, of Purdy,
Missouri, to pet stores in Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. Four
puppies died before the rest were rescued and eventually placed by
adoption by Nashville Metro Animal Control. In January 2002 the USDA
fined Do Bo Tri Kennels $7,500 for the incident, fined owner Douglas
Alan Hughes $10,000, and revoked Hughes’ federal permit to sell
animals across state lines.
The horse slaughter industry, booming since the mad cow
disease and hoof-and-mouth disease panics in western Europe a year
ago, seems to have eluded all current legislative efforts to reign
The last currently introduced bill that seemed to have a
chance of moving was an attempt to ban the use of doubledecked cattle
and hog trailers to haul horses in Indiana. Many doubledecked rigs
have ceilings too low for horses to stand comfortably, but because
they can haul more horses per trip, they are the preferred vehicles
of drovers serving the horse slaughter industry.
The Indiana bill was all but abandoned by activists after
Professional Rodeo Cowboys’ Association representatives won weakening
amendments at a February 23 hearing, arguing that the double decker
ban would make staging rodeos cost-prohibitive. The amendments were
ratified by the full Indiana house on February 25.
A proposed federal anti-horse slaughter bill was introduced
in July 2001 by Representative Thomas Reynolds (R-New York), but
picked up only eight cosponsors before becoming a casualty of
Congressional distraction after September 11. Representative Connie
Morella (R-Maryland) in mid-February 2002 introduced a similar bill.
With no co-sponsors, it was not likely to advance.
Susan Wagner of the New York-based organization Equine
Advocates in August 2001 announced in Boston that the Save Our Horses
coalition would try to bypass legislative obstacles by gathering the
57,100 signatures needed to put an anti-horse slaughter initiative on
the 2002 Massachusetts state ballot. The effort failed, however,
and Wagner on December 18 accused Ballot Access Company LLC head
Derrick Lee of covertly diverting signatures to petitions seeking a
ban on gay marriage, a cause Lee was also representing, on behalf
of Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage.
“We may have reason to believe that hundreds to possibly
thousands of signatures that were gathered for the anti-gay marriage
initiative were meant for the horse petition,” Wagner said in a
Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage chief executive Bryan G.
Rudnick told Steve Marantz of the Boston Herald that his group did
not even retain Lee during the second half of the signature-gathering
period, as volunteers had already collected more signatures than
The Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling and
Grey2K USA briefly celebrated on January 31 after the New Hampshire
house of representatives crushed a bill to allow New Hampshire
greyhound tracks to host slot machine gambling as well, 217-130.
“This was the first floor vote on dog track slot machines in
2002,” said a Grey2K USA electronic bulletin, but warned that,
“The tracks have vowed to bring similar legislation back to the house
floor, and it is likely that the New Hampshire legislature will
address this issue again.”
Financially struggling greyhound tracks in at least five
other states are reportedly seeking permission to host slot machines.
Track proprietors are also seeking direct subsidies, as in
Massachusetts, where Acting Governor Jane Swift in November 2001
signed a bill authorizing a $5 million a year tax break for the two
dog tracks, two horse tracks, and one harness track remaining in
Just a short distance south, however, Rhode Island Governor
Lincoln Almond told the state house finance committee on February 10
that it should cut off benefits to dog kennel owners at the Lincoln
Greyhound Park, amouinting to $28.2 million over the next two years.
“It is time to get the state out of dog racing,” Almond
said. “Do we give money to kennel owners, or to children?”
Nationally, of 49 greyhound tracks operating as of mid-2000,
six have closed, and many others are believed to be near bankruptcy.
In Maine, post-September 11 zeal to help police dogs has
helped 12-year-old Kelly Davis of West Bath to build support for a
bill introduced by state senate Republican leader Mary Small of Bath
to partially repeal an existing law that prohibits law enforcement
agencies or their agents from seeking donations from the public. The
purpose of the law is to prevent coercion by solicitors and attempted
bribery by donors–but it also blocked the efforts of Davis and Anna
Schwarcz, 13, of Carrington, to raise funds to buy bulletproof
vests for police dogs throughout Maine. Their group, Maine
Vest-A-Dog, had outfitted 18 dogs before the project was stopped by
the state attorney general’s office.
A Washington state bill seeking inspection of egg farms [see
Editorial, page 3] and an Illinois bill seeking a ban on starving
hens to force them to moult and begin a new egg-laying cycle were
introduced mainly to raise issues, rather than in serious hope that
they would pass. Forced molts are now known to contribute to
salmonella infections of hens and eggs, but because the egg industry
competes across state lines, an effective ban would have to come
from Washington D.C..
Vermont representative Neil Randall (R-Bradford) introduced a
bill to ban the exhibition of elephants. The most recent appearance
of an elephant in Vermont is believed to have been in the late 1990s.
A similar bill cleared the Maine house in 2001, but failed in the
state senate. Both bills were introduced at request of Randall’s
daughter, Sharon Rose, who is news anchor for WCHS-TV in Portland,