There are a number of great bills making their way through the Legislature this year and several of them are getting significant attention from legislators and the media. Here's a quick rundown of some the key bills with links. I'd encourage readers to look up their state representative and senator and contact them. Let them know you are a voter that supports the humane treatment of animals and urge them to support these important changes to Florida law. If you aren't sure which elected official to contact, you can enter your nine digit ZIP code here to find your state representative and here to find your state senator.
1. Sexual Activities Involving Animals (aka the Bestiality Ban)
Senate Bill 448 and House Bill 273 - If the Bestiality Ban passes Florida would finally join the majority of U.S. states that protect animals from sexual predation. The most recent staff analysis for the Senate's bill lists a number of disturbing incidents where law enforcement officers and prosecutors had to charge defendants with far less serious crimes like disorderly conduct, or crimes that don’t seem to tell the “whole story” like indecent exposure. The Miami Herald reported here on the bill being taken up by the Senate's Agriculture Committee.
2. Inspection of and Permit Limitations for Pari-Mutuel Facilities (aka racing animal protection bills)
There are two sets of bills that will hopefully help improve the treatment of racing greyhounds and horses. First, Senate Bill 2316 and House Bill 1215 would give the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, part of Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation, increased authority to conduct inspections of racing facilities. The bills also clarifies that the division may revoke occupational licenses for anyone convicted of cruelty to animals. Currently the language reads as though only cruelty to racing animals would disqualify a person from licensure.
Second, while they do not eliminate the greyhound racing entirely (like Massachusetts did last year), Senate Bill 2594 and House Bill 1437 would create a moratorium on the issuance of any new greyhound racing permits. The bills would also eliminate language from the law that required racetrack owners to hold a "minimum" number of races, which may reduce the number of animals used in these races.
3. Sterilization of Dogs and Cats (aka the Spay/Neuter law)
I previously wrote a brief post about House Bill 451, which would require all dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered once they reached a certain age. The bill contains language that would allow exceptions for animals with medical conditions, show animals, service animals, law enforcement animals, and several others. The bill does not currently have a Senate counterpart. The introduction to the bill sets forth some of the compelling reasons that it is needed:
WHEREAS, pet overpopulation is a preventable problem that 20 can be solved simply by spaying or neutering companion animals, andI'll post some of the other animal law bills that are pending in upcoming days.
WHEREAS, many euthanized dogs and cats are the offspring of family pets, and
WHEREAS, one unneutered male dog or cat can impregnate dozens of females, leading to hundreds of unwanted animals, and
WHEREAS, spaying and neutering are reasonably safe procedures performed by licensed veterinarians to prevent dogs and cats from reproducing through surgical sterilization of an animal's reproductive system, and
WHEREAS, in addition to reducing pet overpopulation, spaying and neutering have other positive effects, including decreased aggression and temperament problems; reduced risk of cancer; decreased drive to roam in search of a mate or fight with other animals; and decreased tendency of males to urinate to mark territory.
Photo: CC/Jenn Greiving