House Environment & Agriculture Committee Recommends HB 624 (Cost of Care Bond) “INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE” .
The vote was 18-0. Next week, the House will vote on the recommendation and it could be changed. But for now, take a few minutes to send a “thank you” for listening to your concerns email to the Environment and Agriculture committee: HouseEnvironmentandAgricultureCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
If you live near Keene, the Monadnock Sportsmens Association is holding a rabies clinic at Horse and Buggy Feeds in Keene on Saturday March 28 from 9 am to 1 pm. The cost is $12 and they ask that dogs be kept on a leash and cats in a carrier.
UPDDATE: Public Hearing HB 624 Cost of Care Bond
On Friday, the House Environment and Agriculture Committee’s public hearing on HB 624: was standing room only and lasted over 3 hours. Eighteen people signed up to testify; ten of them opposed to the bill. Those testifying opposed to the bill included the State Veterinarian, an attorney from NH-ACLU, a representative of the NH Musher’s Assn., three owners of family farms and four DOGS members. Those supporting the bill included the HSUS state director and four humane shelter employees.
If you missed the public hearing, there is still a need to register your opposition to the bill. The committee is scheduled to vote on the bill on March 2nd. Find email addresses for the committee members at House Environment & Agriculture Committee.
Our objections to the bill include:
- A person who has animals confiscated could undergo two different court cases; a civil case for cause to impose the bond and a criminal case for the cruelty charges. Civil and criminal cases have different burdens of proof. One could be found guilty of cruelty in the civil case and NOT guilty in the criminal case. But as noted by the ACLU attorney, the accused will face an unconscionable choice – risk cross-examination in the civil case which may prejudice your chances in the subsequent criminal case or not testify in the civil case to preserve your criminal case and lose ownership of your animals.
- Animal cruelty cases do not always end in a conviction. Inadequately trained enforcement officials can mistake an ill animal that is under treatment or one with unusual habits as a cruelty situation. Neither the current law nor HB 624 ensures that those bringing charges and confiscating animals are properly trained.
- The animal shelters that are supporting the bill claim that they cannot afford the cost of care for the confiscated animals and it uses up resources that are needed for the general public. Nevertheless, shelters do not have to accept animals, in fact, most do not accept livestock. Furthermore, many shelters are now arranging for “rescue caravans” of dogs from other states to fill their “empty space”. Recently, a Laconia shelter had so few animals to sell that they flew dogs in from Texas.
HB 624 is being put forth by HSUS to solve a humane society shelter funding problem but most raise considerable funds from donations and sales. Moreover, no municipality testified at the public hearing that HB 624 would solve their animal cruelty enforcement problems.
UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
1:30PM House Executive Departments Committee, Room 306 Legislative Office Building
HB 661: Requiring Shelters to Annually Report Animal Intake, Care & Disposition Data
DOGS Supports HB 661. The bill requires nonprofit animal shelters to annually file information about the animals accepted (including imported), their care and disposition. Due to the increasing numbers of dogs being imported into the state, this bill is essential to track potential public health threats from imported animals. Shelters already collect this information but many do not shared it.
ACTION NEEDED: Send an email to the House Executive Departments Committee urging them to vote “ought to pass” on HB 661 and add one of our reasons to support the bill; copy Yvonne so we can remind the committee of your email at the public hearing.
OTHER BILL UPDATES
HB 241 – Prohibiting a driver from holding an animal while operating a vehicle. The fine for this violation would be $100.
Status: The House Transportation Committee voted to recommend the bill “Ought to Pass” (10-8 vote). The majority of the committee felt that “the animal on the lap is the distraction that could lead to injury or death of the innocent. If we write state motor vehicle law to protect the public, then this bill furthers the goal of safety.”
DOGS Position: Monitor and provide information. While DOGS maintains that people should not drive with dogs on their laps, the negligent driving law seems to already cover this issue. Current law (RSA 265:79-b) makes driving negligently or in a manner that endangers any person or property a violation of not less than $250 for the first offense.
UPDATE: SB 15 COMMITTEE VOTE
SB 15 (leashing animals in the proximity of a service dog) was voted “Inexpedient to Legislation” in a 4-0 vote by the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee. The Committee’s recommendation will be voted on by the full Senate on February 12th. We are hopeful that the Senate will support the committee’s recommendation. Before February 12th, you are encouraged to send your local state Senator a note urging them to vote the bill ITL. Thank you for helping relay our message to the Senate Committee.
UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS Continue reading
LEGISLATIVE ALERT – ACTION NEEDED
UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS
Friday, February 13, 2015
HB 624: – relative to animal care costs in animal cruelty cases
1p.m.House Environment & Agriculture Committee, Room 303 Legislative Office Building
HB 624: COST OF CARE BOND
In criminal cases when an animal(s) is confiscated due to animal cruelty charges, the bill sets up a pre-trial process whereby a civil court may order the owner of the confiscated animal(s) to post a bond which will cover the cost of caring for the animal(s). The bond will automatically renew every 30 days until the criminal trial is over, including any appeal period. If at any time, the owner is unable to pay the bond, the animal(s) will be forfeited. The caretaker can draw out of the bond “account” the actual expenses for the animal(s) care. It does NOT allow for the money to be refunded in cases where the owner is acquitted or the charges dismissed.
Current law requires anyone convicted of animal cruelty to pay for the cost of the animal(s) care. Some municipalities have a contract with the local shelter for care of confiscated animals and others make arrangements on a case-by-case basis.
DOGS opposes HB 624.
Our objections to this bill include:
Animal cruelty cases do not always end in a conviction. Inadequately trained enforcement officials can mistake an ill animal that is under treatment as a cruelty situation Continue reading