Friends of Animals board chair resigns over anti-chaining bill veto
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2002:
HARTFORD–Connecticut state representative Kenneth Bernhard
(R-Westport) has resigned his longtime position as Friends of Animals
board chair, in protest against the role of FoA president Priscilla
Feral in persuading Governor John G. Rowland, a fellow Republican,
to veto what would have been the first state law to explicitly limit
the number of hours per day that dogs could be chained, caged, or
Drafted by Animal Advocacy Connecticut founder Julie Lewin,
the anti-chaining bill was approved 124-17 in the state house and
30-6 in the state senate. Lawmakers backed the bill partly out of
sympathy for dogs chained outdoors alone in all kinds of weather,
and partly due to increasing recognition that prolonged chaining,
caging, or kenneling tends to make dogs more territorial and
reactive, resulting in more frequent bites and more serious bites
than if the dogs have the option of moving away from a threat or
The bill sought to avoid enforcement problems resulting from
humane officers making judgement calls by spelling out statutory
limits: a dog could not be confined for longer than 15 consecutive
hours, or more than 22 hours out of 24; a chain could not be less
than five times the length of the dog; a chain could not weigh more
than 10% as much as the dog; and dogs other than northern breeds
could not be left outside for longer than half an hour in
temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is the same approach taken to regulatory topics such as
speed limits, stop signs, and wearing seat belts. Rather than
leaving “dangerous driving” up to police to define, laws define
prohibited conduct, and state specific penalties for each violation.
The bill was vehemently opposed as allegedly over-restrictive
by the Connecticut Dog Federation, representing dog breeders; pack
hunters; owners of guard dogs; libertarians, who oppose all new
regulation; the Hartford Courant newspaper–and FoA, which attacked
it in a series of e-mail alerts for including exemptions for pet
stores, greyhound tracks, and animal shelters.
“I admire their aspirations for an animal utopia,” Bernhard
told Associated Press, “but it is not going to happen in our
lifetime. Unfortunately, FoA has become a roadblock to improving
the standard of care for animals.”
Bernhard said that including the exemptions was necessary for
the bill to pass.
The Connecticut legislature will have a chance to override
Rowland’s veto in a session starting on June 24, but is not expected
to take the anti-chaining bill up again.
Vermont state senator Vincent Illuzzi (R-Essex/Orleans)
pushed a bill to establish a felony cruelty penalty for animal
torture and neglect throughout the spring that eventually cleared the
senate, while the house passed a bill by representative Duncan
Kilmartin (R-Newport) that limited the subject to deliberate acts.
The Illuzzi bill included some provisions about prolonged
confinement similar to those of the Connecticut anti-chaining bill.
Illuzzi represents a rural district and has enjoyed strong
support from farmers throughout his career, but his version of the
bill was bitterly opposed by rural legislators who insisted that
provisions written to deal with animal hoarders might be used against
farmers–including a requirement that people convicted of hoarding
animals and juveniles convicted of violent crimes against animals
must obtain psychiatric evaluation and mental health treatment.
Representative Ruth Towne (R-Berlin) eventually killed efforts to
reconcile the Illuzzi bill and the Kilmartin bill in the house/senate
reconciliation committee–meaning that both bills were scrapped.
Recent successful pro-animal legislation included:
* Arizona governor Jane Hull on April 30 signed a bill
creating a legal defense for dogs who bite a person after being
provoked. The standard for “provocation” is behavior that a
“reasonable person” would recognize as likely to bring on an attack.
* Florida Governor Jeb Bush, signing his second pro-animal
bill in under two weeks, authorized legislation that makes “pet
trusts” set up to look after the animals of deceased persons legal
and binding. Bush earlier signed a bill requiring violent animal
abusers to get anger management counseling. Also, Bush on May 29
vetoed a bill which would have allowed dog tracks to seek more
gamblers by increasing the jackpots at on-site card rooms.
* Georgia Governor Roy Barnes scheduled a June 6 signing
ceremony for a bill authorizing the sale of a special license plate
to help fund pet sterilization.
* Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack signed both a bill creating a
criminal penalty for attending an animal fight such as a dogfight or
cockfight, and an anti-pollution bill which doubles the required
distance between confinement hog and poultry farms and the nearest
homes. The latter bill, though not written to help animals, is
expected to inhibit the growth of factory farming in Iowa.
* Kansas Governor Bill Graves, a month after signing a bill
to raise the penalties for harming search-and-rescue dogs, signed a
bill ithat makes cockfighting punishable by up to a year in jail plus
a fine of $10,000.
* Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating on May 7 signed his second
anti-pollution bill in three weeks. This bill too will tend to curb
the growth of factory farming, and will help protect wildlife
Bestiality & porn
Awaiting only gubernatorial signatures are anti-bestiality
bills passed by the Illinois and Missouri legislatures, and an
Illinois bill which would outlaw the for-profit production, sale,
or distribution of videotapes depicting cruelty to animals.
The latter bill escaped being grafted to a bill introduced
into the Illinois senate by Mary K. O’Brien (D-Coal City) but killed
in committee, which would have made it “a crime to be on a farm (or
other ‘animal facility’) and photograph or videotape pigs or any
other animals without the consent of the owner if one’s intent is to
damage the enterprise,” according to a Chicago Tribune summary.
A similar bill was introduced in Missouri by representative
Ken Logan (R-Halfway), on behalf of dog breeder Brenda Kemp. The
Missouri bill–which observers say is almost certainly
unconstitutional–was approved by the state house on March 15 as part
of an omnibus farm bill.
The Missouri and Illinois anti-bestiality bills and the
Illinois bill banning made-for-profit videos of cruelty were inspired
by local incidents, but they may get a boost from publicity about
the May 27 sentencing of British “crush video” makers Craig Chapman,
27, Christine Besford, 26, Sarah Goode, 22, and Tharaza
Smallwood, 22, whose videos of small animals being stomped by women
and transvestites in high heels were sold in the U.S. along with the
videos of convicted American producers Thomas Capriola, of Long
Island, and Gary Thomason and Diana Aileen Chaffin, of southern
Judge Granville Styler gave Chap-man two years in jail, and
gave the three women four months each. All were also fined and
banned for life from keeping pets.