Two-thousand and ten was a big year for animal protection legislation. Close to 100 new state laws and regulations were enacted to protect animals. Here’s a list of the most notable victories:
· On the Federal level, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 was signed into law. The new law prohibits the creation and distribution of “crush videos” and establishes a penalty of up to seven years in prison.
· Alaska passed legislation to upgrade the state’s anti-cruelty law by making felony-level penalties for the worst forms of animal abuse the first time a perpetrator is convicted. Sexual abuse of animals was also outlawed. Prior to this bill’s passage, Alaska was the only state in the nation that allowed felony-level penalties for animal cruelty after only two prior convictions.
· Arizona defeated Prop 109, which would have established a constitutional right to hunt and also blocked future wildlife protection in the state.
· California banned the sale of eggs from hens confined in battery cages, as a follow up to the passage of Prop 2 in November 2008 which outlawed “battery cages” and mandated that California’s egg-laying hens be housed with enough room to stand up, turn around and spread their wings. This year, California upped the ante by approving Assembly Bill 1437, which requires that by 2015, all whole eggs sold in California come from farms that meet the Act’s humane standards for housing egg-laying hens.
· Connecticut voted to prohibit the dangerous and inhumane chaining/tethering of dogs. This was passed in late spring and went into effect on October 1.
· Florida lawmakers banned the import of exotic Burmese pythons and also made it illegal to breed, sell and possess these animals as pets. Aside from these animals being dangerous pets to own, if large constrictor snakes escape or are released into the environment, they can multiply rapidly and prey on native wildlife, depleting vulnerable species.
· Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also outlawed fox penning – where coyotes and foxes are chased down and torn apart by dogs in a fenced enclosure. This “sport” was surprisingly legal and judges would score dogs on how relentlessly they pursue the captive animals. Kudos to Florida for banning this horrible sport.
· Hawaii lawmakers banned the horrible practice of shark finning. Shark-finning involves cutting off the fins of sharks then throwing the shark back into the ocean, often while still alive, only to drown, starve or die a slow death due to predation from other species. Numerous species of shark are threatened or endangered, with some species on the brink of extinction due to the cruel and exploitive shark fin industry.
· Illinois lawmakers banned primates from being kept as pets. There are now 22 states that prohibit primates as pets.
· Louisiana made it a crime to be a spectator at a cockfight. Until 2008, cockfighting itself was legal in the state.
· Missouri voters approved Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act. Effective in one year, the Act will help dogs in the “puppy mill capital of America” by restricting commercial breeders to no more than 50 breeding female dogs, increasing the size of dogs’ living spaces and requiring yearly veterinary exams. This is significant given that Missouri is the number one puppy mill state in the nation. The second and third biggest puppy mill states - Oklahoma and Iowa - also passed legislation to improve care of dogs.
· New Hampshire and Rhode Island enacted legislation to end Greyhound racing. Greyhound racing is considered inhumane because of the industry’s excessive breeding practices, the often cruel methods by which unwanted dogs are destroyed, the conditions in which many dogs are forced to live, and the killing and maiming of bait animals (like rabbits) during training exercises.
· Tennessee passed bills to prohibit persons convicted of certain violent and drug-related felonies from owning dogs deemed vicious and will also require any dog in the possession or custody of a violent felon to be spayed or neutered and microchipped. This new legislation is expected to make it much tougher for violent felons to breed and train dogs for fighting.
Most state legislatures will reopen in January. Keep pushing for animal friendly legislation in the New Year!
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Coca is an 11-year-old, female-spayed Lab/Chow mix who is a loving, gentle dog with a positive attitude, but she has not led what you would call a pampered life. She was an outdoor only dog for many years and now she has been living in a shelter. Like many other dogs, Coca may also have some arthritis in her hips. Still, she maintains her friendly, happy-go- lucky personality. Although she is not a youngster at 11 years, you will be impressed by how active she is! In addition to her basic obedience training with the Humane Society staff behaviorist, Coca spent a couple of hours a day for an entire month helping a teenage volunteer learn how to train a dog. She is very well behaved!
Because she is such a good dog, Coca participated in both the 2009 Santa Barbara Independence Day parade and the 2010 Wags ‘n Whiskers Festival at Girsh Park.
Although Coca always tries to make the most of each day, what she really wants is to spend the rest of her life in a home with her own special human(s) to love. Please consider Coca. For more information, call 964-477, go to sbhumanesociety.org, or visit us at 5399 Overpass Rd.
Lisa Acho Remorenko is executive director of Animal Adoption Solutions, animaladoptionsolutions.com