Animal welfare legislation in Connecticut has had a very active year.
At the close of this year’s session, the Connecticut legislature passed three and disposed of two bills concerning Connecticut’s animals.
HB 5368, an act extending certain pet shop licensee requirements to persons and organizations that import animals for adoption, has caused a furor here in Newtown among local animal rescue groups.
Although supported by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as a way to curtail the abuses and numbers of imported puppies, the bill creates, what local groups call, excessive and outrageous conditions on the importation of rescued animals from shelters and/or foster homes transported into Connecticut.
The new bill, currently awaiting Gov. Dannel Malloy’s signature, requires an annual registration fee of $100, 10 days notice given to the state of Connecticut for the arrival of a transport and for an adoption event.
Any dog or cat arriving in Connecticut will have to be re-checked by a vet within 48 hours of arrival in the state and then rechecked 15 days later. The dog will then require another vet check every 90 days until adopted.
According to Monica Roberto, Director of the The Animal Center here in Newtown:
"The Animal center supports appropriate regulation of the importation of companion animals into Connecticut, but we cannot support House Bill 5368. This new law is deeply flawed. It is bad news for people who care about companion animals in Connecticut and worse news for the many animals who will die as a result of its passage. By imposing burdensome and expensive regulatory requirements on shelters and rescue groups, this law will make it much harder for rescue organizations to take in adoptable animals scheduled for euthanasia or help the neediest cases. Our group, for one, will need to take a hard look at whether our new and very successful dog rescue program can continue to operate under the new regulations. The bill also does no favors for struggling families in a difficult economy who are looking to provide loving homes to animals without the high prices and often deplorable circumstances that buying pet store puppies entails."
Newtown resident, Jodi Bialik, National Surrender Director for National Great Pyrenees Rescue, (www.nationalpyr.org), believes:
“This is excessive and beyond the standard of reasonable care. It infers that the out of state vets issuing these health certificates are not competent to give these dogs medical clearance. Furthermore, it puts an extraordinary financial burden on adopters to have their dogs re-checked several consecutive times. It will make rescue out of reach for most adopters. This legislation will crush the efforts of reputable rescue groups that have been transporting dogs at risk of euthanasia into CT from other states. There are over 4 million adoptable dogs euthanized in shelters in this country annually due to a lack of space. Reputable rescue groups often transport these dogs into other parts of the country where there are loving, adoptive homes that will adopt them. Reputable rescue groups go to great lengths to protect the health of the dogs they rescue as well as the adopters that adopt from them”
By limiting the numbers of dogs transported into Connecticut , proponents of the bill hope to increase the numbers of dogs adopted in Connecticut.
But Bialik says, ”I disagree with this reasoning. While I would love to see more dogs in CT adopted from shelters, there is not the breed diversity that many adopters seek. By limiting out of state rescue, it will not force adopters to go to their local CT shelters with any more frequency than before.”
If you are interested in reading the whole bill (HB-5368 or Public Act 11-187) go to www.cga.ct.gov/2011/TOB/H/2011HB-05368-R01-HB.htm or find the names of legislators who sponsored the bill.
To read the other animal-related bills passed by the Connecticut Legislature this past session go to the Connecticut General Assembly’s website and enter the bill number in the search link.
HB 6226—Cross-Reporting An Act Concerning Cross-Reporting of Child Abuse and Animal Cruelty: Helps ensure children's and animals' safety by requiring Department of Children and Families caseworkers to report animal cruelty to the Department of Agriculture and also investigate child abuse upon the receipt of reports of animal cruelty at the same address.
SB 6303—Shelter Animals Act Concerning the Treatment of Ill and Injured Animals in Municipal Animal Shelters: Both encourages Connecticut’s public animal shelters to provide impounded animals with better care by working with nonprofit rescue organizations, and also requires the state Department of Agriculture to investigate complaints regarding any animal control officer’s failure to provide proper care to the animals in his or her charge. In addition, requires that shelter animals be posted online for the duration of their impoundment and offers civil and criminal immunity to veterinarians who discount their fees for treating shelter animals.