As promised, here is more information about a few of the bills in this legislative session:
HB 1242/SB 477 would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor (punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2500 fine) to possess, sell or breed exotic animals. This bill is in response to the tragedy last year in Ohio resulting in the death of almost fifty animals after the owner released the animals and killed himself.
SB 359 will officially legalize Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) programs. This bill clarifies that anyone engaged in TNR is not an “owner” who could be deemed to be “abandoning” the cats.
If you would like to know more about fox penning and HB 695/SB 202, the Humane Society of the United States has put together a video explaining this blood sport and why it is vital that we push to prohibit this cruel practice. A major focus of Humane Lobby Day in Richmond this Thursday will be to gather support for these bills.
Last but not least is HJ 143, which would establish February 28 as Spay Day.
Now the bad news. As is often the case, a devastating bill will sneak into the legislation when no one is looking. And so it is with SB 610. This bill would prohibit localities and animal control officers from regulating agricultural animals, placing all authority over agricultural animals in the hands of the State Vet. This bill would also expand the definition of agricultural animals to include hunting, working and show dogs. Needless to say, this bill would be a tremendous set back to animal welfare by placing a huge burden on the State Vet’s office, and taking the power to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty and neglect out of the hands of localities and animal control officers who are in the best position to take action.
Stay posted later this week for an overview of the good, the bad and the ugly in the bills geared towards companion animals in this legislative session.