Companion animal legislation


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Presented at the American Pets Alive No-Kill Conference 2014.

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Companion animal legislation

  1. 1. Companion Animal Legislation 2014 American Pets Alive Conference Austin, Texas
  2. 2. Topics Covered: • Puppy mills • Gas chambers • Rescue rights • Austin No Kill Implementation Plan • Breed discrimination Within Topics: • Background and need • Issues to consider • Recommended items to include in legislation • Some sample language
  3. 3. Amish puppy mill -- Puppy Mills
  4. 4. Missouri puppy mill -- Colorado Springs Independent (Photo: Clay Myers)
  5. 5. Puppy Mills • Large scale, commercial breeders of pets • Often abusive and neglectful conditions • Stacked cages • Little or no exercise, or even time outside cages; some spend entire lifetime in cage • Females overbred and tossed away • Sick or injured animals • Lack of veterinary care
  6. 6. Puppy Mills • Patchwork of federal and (sometimes) state laws • Federal Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) of 1966: • license/inspection process • Until recently, wholesale only. • Until recently, did not regulate breeders who sell directly to the public (in-person or internet sales) • New federal rules to regulate internet sales • Does not preempt local or state regulation • State and local laws vary, with many states having no regulation at all.
  7. 7. Types of Puppy Mill Laws 1. Direct, On-Site Regulation 2. Retail / Pet store regulations 3. Consumer remedies 4. General Anti-Cruelty Laws (which apply within and outside puppy-mill context)
  8. 8. On-Site Regulation • Limit number of animals (some laws begin to regulate at a specified number of animals) • Require licensing and/or fees • Implement mandatory, unannounced inspection process • Regulate conditions – food/water, exercise/play, sanitation/ventilation, stacking, veterinary care, etc.
  9. 9. On-Site Regulation: Texas Puppy Mill Law • Applies to breeding facilities with 11+ breeding females & 20+ sales/year • Does not preempt local ordinances • Loopholes: racing, hunting, herding, competitions. • Authorizes licensing process and fees • Mandates inspections once every 18 months and upon complaint of violation • Authorizes commission to adopt minimum humane standards of care, including: • Exercise • Very minimal enclosure standards • One veterinary visit per year for breeding animal
  10. 10. Retail / Pet Store Ordinance • Generally local ordinances to regulate, limit, or ban the purchase of puppy-mill animals within municipalities. • All-out ban: • Ban sale or other transfer of dogs or cats in pet stores or other retail outlets within city/county limits • Restriction/Regulation • Require veterinary certificate of health • Require spay/neuter/vaccination • Require fee • ***Exempt animal shelters and rescue groups from transfer ban • Internet sales: issue for animal advocates going forward
  11. 11. Consumer Protection: “Lemon Law” • Provides remedy for consumers who purchased sick or ill animals from a breeder or retail outlet • Usually provides either replacement animal, refund, or cost of veterinary care up to purchase price--- thus, obvious limitations. • Need to change these laws to provide for recovery of actual value to pet owner: (a) emotional distress and/or (b) all veterinary costs, without limitation • Exempt rescues/shelters
  12. 12. Gas Chambers
  13. 13. Gas Chambers • Killing companion animals by carbon monoxide inhalation • Animals placed in metal box fully conscious • Sometimes multiple animals; • sometimes multiple species; • sometimes live animals piled on top of dead bodies from prior kills. • High pitch sound as chamber filled with carbon monoxide gas • Can take 30 minutes to work. • Some animals panic; some fight. • Banned or partially banned in 20 states
  14. 14. Gas Chambers “Animals gasp for breath, their insides burning. They claw at the floor and throw themselves against the walls of the chamber in an attempt to get out. Sometimes it takes the dog or cat as long as 30 minutes to die. It's terrifying and excruciating.”
  15. 15. Gas Chambers • Among the most cruel ways to legally kill an animal. • Not just bad for animals; bad for people too: • Dangerous for shelter staff: • Gas chambers can and have exploded • Terrified animals stuffed into box can claw, scratch, and bite staff. • More costly to run gas chambers than implement lethal injection in the long run; thus, gas-chamber bans are revenue positive for government agencies.
  16. 16. Gas Chambers Texas Language: “A person may euthanize a dog or cat in the custody of an animal shelter only by administering sodium pentobarbital.” NKAC Model Language: “All animals impounded by a public or private sheltering agency or rescue group shall be killed only when necessary and consistent with the requirements of this Act, by lethal intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital, except as follows: (1) intraperitoneal injections may be used only under the direction of a licensed veterinarian, and only when intravenous injection is not possible… (2) Intracardiac injections may be used only when intravenous injection is not possible for animals who are completely unconscious or comatose, and then only under the direction of a veterinarian.”
  17. 17. Rescue Access
  18. 18. Rescue Rights What is a rescue-access law? It’s a law that guarantees qualified rescue groups a right to rescue animals that animal shelters plan to kill.
  19. 19. Rescue Rights Why are they needed? • 6-8 million animals entering US shelters annually • 3-4 million killed • Some shelters refuse to work with rescue groups willing to save animals even as they kill all day long.
  20. 20. Rescue Rights Why are they needed? New York survey: • 71% of rescue groups had a shelter refuse to transfer an animal to them, then the same shelter turned around and killed the animal instead. • 43% of rescue groups had been retaliated against for speaking out against inhumane conditions at shelters • 52% of rescue groups reported witnessing inhumane conditions at animal shelters and looking the other way out of fear of retribution for speaking out.
  21. 21. Rescue Rights 1. Rescue-access laws save money: • NKAC estimates passage of law in California saves at least $1.8 million (killing and disposal costs) annually • City/County of San Francisco concluded it alone saved ~½ million annually. • Best Friends Animal Society analysis reached similar conclusion in Texas. 2. Rescue-access laws save lives: • Passage of law in California increased number of animals transferred to rescues by 370% • 12,526 in 1997 to 58,939 in 2010
  22. 22. Rescue Rights Provisions in rescue-access law: 1. Rescue right: guaranteed right to rescue animals scheduled to be killed 2. Notice: notification of “euth” list and time to place animals on hold. 3. Exclusions: types of animals not protected. 4. Safeguards: types of rescues excluded. 5. Definitions 6. Liability waiver: protect shelters from liability.
  23. 23. Rescue Rights Rescue right from NKAC Model language: “No animal in the care or custody of . . . a shelter . . . shall be destroyed if, prior to the killing of that animal, a nonprofit . . . animal rescue organization . . . requests possession of the animal.”
  24. 24. Rescue Rights Safeguards: • Exclude organizations with officer or board member convicted of animal-related crime (or charges/investigation pending). • Proof of veterinary provider • 501(c)(3) • May choose to allow inspections but do so only with cause
  25. 25. Rescue Rights Exclusions: • Animal suspected of carrying rabies • Dog determined dangerous by court of competent jurisdiction • Dog with documented history of unprovoked biting that caused severe injury. • Animal experiencing irremediable physical suffering with a poor prognosis for recovery (as certified by veterinarian)
  26. 26. City/County No Kill Mandate
  27. 27. City/County No Kill Mandate 1. Compare your community’s programs to the No Kill Equation. 2. Identify programmatic gaps 3. Lobby, lobby, lobby.
  28. 28. The No Kill Equation 1. Feral Cat TNR Program 2. High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter 3. Rescue Groups 4. Foster Care 5. Comprehensive Adoption Programs 6. Pet Retention 7. Medical and Behavioral Rehabilitation 8. Public Relations/Community Involvement 9. Volunteers 10. Proactive Redemptions 11. A Compassionate Director
  29. 29. The City of Austin’s Mandated No Kill Plan 1. Change the mission of animal services = 90% save rate. 2. Off-site adoptions. 3. Large-scale foster program. 4. Behavioral Rehabilitation. 5. Intake counseling. 6. Community cat spay/neuter & release. 7. Low-cost and free spay- neuter programs. 8. Provide advanced “euth” list to rescue partners. 9. Public awareness & new website. 10. Increase return-to- owners. 11. Moratorium on empty- cage killing.
  30. 30. Breed Discrimination
  31. 31. Breed Discrimination 1. Breed discriminatory laws •Breed bans •Breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter 2. Breed discriminatory adoption/rescue policies
  32. 32. Breed Discrimination •Does not make communities safer •Kills dogs; breaks up families •Costly and ineffective •Founded in racism and class discrimination
  33. 33. Texas Breed Discrimination Ban: TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE 822.047. LOCAL REGULATION OF DANGEROUS DOGS. “A county or municipality may place additional requirements or restrictions on dangerous dogs if the requirements or restrictions: (1) are not specific to one breed or several breeds of dogs; and (2) are more stringent than restrictions provided by this subchapter.”
  34. 34. Proposed Texas Adoption/Rescue Ban: “An animal shelter may not refuse to adopt or transfer a dog or cat based on the animal’s age, breed, type, breed mix, appearance, or size.”
  35. 35. Effective dog-bite prevention: • Leash/containment laws for dogs only • Dangerous-dog legislation that focuses on behavior, not breed. • Anti-chaining laws