NEW YORK, October 4, 2007The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today released a compilation of its 2007 “Victory List,” a list of ASPCA-supported, animal-centered federal and state legislation that its state and federal legislative experts worked hard to get passed this year.
“2007 has been a signature year for legislative victories on behalf of animals,” said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres. “Our legislative representatives worked closely with state and federal legislators to implement these bills, and we owe it to our supporters to reflect the good news as it continues to come in.”
Federal legislation includes a major victory with the passage of HR 147/S 261, the “Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007,” which prohibits sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in an animal-fighting venture if any of the animals in the venture have been moved across state lines. The Act raises this crime from a misdemeanor to a felony offense and intends to deter more people from engaging in the brutal “sport” of animal fighting.
Five states, including Connecticut, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Virginia, passed bills addressing animals in disasters, which require state and local civil preparedness officials to create strategies to evacuate pets and service animals in the event of a major disaster or emergency. This brings to 13 the total number of states with similar bills passed.
While three states (Maine, New York and Vermont) already had pet protection laws on their books, states that followed suit in 2007 included California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada and Tennessee. The “Protection Orders for Pets” bills permit courts to issue orders of protection for animals owned or kept by victims of family violence. Seven other states introduced similar legislation in 2007. Further, in Indiana, animal cruelty was added to the “Definition of Domestic Violence” with HB 1387, and includes crimes involving animal cruelty used to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass or terrorize a family or household member.
After many years of contentious struggle, cockfighting was finally made illegal in New Mexico, and has now been banned in all 50 states, with Louisiana’s prohibition going into effect in August 2008. In Illinois, HB 3614 increased the penalty for animal fighting to a felony, regardless of the species of animal made to fight. Texas also increased the penalty for dog fighting from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony, and Texas and Tennessee both increased the punishment for attending a dog fighting exhibition from a Class C to a Class A misdemeanor.
In two states, tethering laws were passed: In Tennessee, dogs can no longer be chained in a manner that is inhumane or prevents access to food, water or shelter; and in Texas, HB 1411 prohibits the tethering of dogs outdoors between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and during extreme weather conditions.
Other highlights, by region, include:
Eastern Region: Connecticut passed HB 7194 (Spay/Neuter and Vaccination Programs), establishing subsidized spay/neuter services and vaccination programs for low-income pet owners, and expanding such services for feral cat rescuers.
Western Region: Hawaii passed SB 1665 (Felony-Level Penalties for Crimes Against Pets), creating the state’s first felony offense for cruelty to animals by adding a new class C felony of ‘cruelty to animals in the first degree.’ In Nevada, SB 329 (Dogs in Hot Cars) now prohibits a person from allowing a cat or dog to remain unattended in a motor vehicle under certain circumstances. And in Oregon, SB 694 (Animal Cruelty Law) bans the use of gestation cratesmetal enclosures that confine breeding sows so severely that the animals cannot even turn around. Texas’ HB 2328 (Animal Cruelty Bill) aids the future prosecution of cruelty cases by closing loopholes in the state’s Animal Cruelty Statute and protects feral animals, stray dogs and horses from specific abuses.
Midwest Region: Illinois passed HB 1711 (Ban on Horse Slaughter for Human Consumption) and SR 166, establishing the ‘Dog Owners and Homeowner’s Insurance Advisory Committee’ to study breed discrimination and homeowner’s insurance availability. Illinois also banned Internet Hunting. In Indiana, SB 108 (Counseling for Animal Abusers) now requires courts to consider psychological, behavioral or other forms of counseling as part of the sentence imposed on an adult or juvenile who has been found guilty of animal cruelty.
Northeast Region: In New York, animal welfare program budget cuts were restored during last-minute negotiations to finalize a state budget by the April 1 deadline. New York also passed A1839/S3167, “Companion Animals for Seniors,” which provides for the state’s Office for the Aging to operate programs to match seniors with companion pets to improve the lives of such seniors, and for the Office for the Aging to work with other entities to provide such programs.
Southeast Region: In Tennessee, SB 487/HB 953 (Bestiality) creates the crime of sexual abuse of an animal and assesses felony level penalties for violations. Tennessee also passed HJR 99 (Benefits of Spay/Neuter), a joint resolution that details the many benefits of spaying and neutering pets, and encourages all Tennesseans to be responsible pet owners by spaying and neutering their pets.
A complete list of federal and state legislative victories for animals can be found at http://www.aspca.org/lobby_victories_2007.
The ASPCA encourages supporters to join its free Advocacy Brigade, which allows people from all over the country to take an active role in improving the lives of animals. Advocacy Brigade members help promote the passage of legislation, citizen initiatives and the adoption of public policies that recognize animals as living, sentient beings who warrant protection. Visit the www.aspca.org and click on “Lobby for Animals” to learn more.