UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
HB 241: Prohibiting a driver from holding an animal while operating a vehicle. Public hearing rescheduled from 1/28. Set for 10:30am, Room 203 LOB, House Transportation Committee
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
SB222: relative to harassment of hunting, fishing, or trapping.
10:15am, Room 100 State House, Senate Energy and Natural Resources
NEW BILL – HB 624: COST OF CARE BOND
This week, the most challenging bill that we will oppose this session was released – HB 624. The bill was requested by HSUS. 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. If multiple animals or large animals are confiscated, the actual cost of care would be substantial. People who cannot afford to post a bond will lose their animals before the criminal case is concluded.
The person who has animals confiscated could undergo two different court cases; a criminal case for the cruelty charges and a civil case for cause to impose the bond. 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.
Anyone who files NH nonprofit incorporation paperwork, obtains zoning approval and secures the services of a licensed veterinarian can set up an animal shelter. No training or fiscal accountability is required.
Supporters of the bill maintain that animal shelters and municipalities are often burdened with the high cost of care for animals during the disposition of the criminal case that can be prolonged by an appeal. Often, restitution for the cost of care is not paid by the convicted party. Law enforcement is reluctant to charge individuals or confiscate animals because of the high cost of animal care imposed on the municipality.
ACTION NEEDED: The bill is expected to be scheduled for a public hearing before the end of February. Start drafting your letter urging members of the House Environment & Agriculture Committee to vote the bill Inexpedient to Legislate. Share this information with your friends and colleagues. For help composing your letter, send a draft to Yvonne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW BILL – HB 661: SHELTER RECORD-KEEPING
HB 661 requires licensed animal shelters and rescues to compile a record of any animal born; accepted from a transporter, animal control officer or its owner, cared for; sold or otherwise transferred; or which died or was euthanized. The information will reported to the NH Director of Charitable Trusts for publication.
DOGS supports HB 661. Record keeping and reporting by animal shelters will help protect public health and improve shelter accountability. With ever increasing frequency, shelters are importing a number of dogs from out of state. Often, shelters maintain that importation is necessary because the demand is greater than the number of dogs available for adoption in New Hampshire. Nevertheless, importing dogs from out of state shelters increases the potential of transmitting disease. In addition to tracking animal health, this information will help indicate trends in animal ownership and care. An increase in neglected animals being surrendered or returned animals should indicate the need for better education and ownership screening.
2015 NH Priority Bill Listing
SB 15 – Requiring owners of companion animals to leash such animals in the proximity of a service dog. Failure to leash will be a misdemeanor.
Status: Awaiting Committee vote in Senate Public & Municipal Affairs Committee. Public Hearing on 1/21.
HB 241 – Prohibiting a driver from holding an animal while operating a vehicle.
Status: Public hearing in House Transportation Committee on 2/3 at 10am.
DOGS Position: Monitor and provide information. While DOGS maintains that people should not drive with animals 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.
HB 624 – 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).
Status: Awaiting public hearing date in House Environment & Agriculture Committee.
DOGS Position: Oppose.
HB 661 – Relative to record keeping for sold or transferred animals.
Status: Awaiting public hearing date in House Executive Departments Committee.
DOGS Position: Support.