Tuesday, February 2, 2016
The House Environment and Agriculture Committee will hold hearings on
- HB1571– prohibiting the possession, purchase, or sale of equipment used for animal fighting. When: 10 a.m. Where: Room 303, the Legislative Office Building.
- HB1499 – relative to certificates for rabies vaccination of dogs, cats, or ferrets When: 11 a.m. Where: Room 303, the Legislative Office Building.
Bills of Interest
HB1571– prohibiting the possession, purchase, or sale of equipment used for animal fighting.
STATUS: The House Environment and Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on 2/2/16 at 10 a.m.
DOGS POSITION: Oppose
This bill makes it a crime to own, buy, sell or manufacture animal fighting paraphernalia with the intent to engage in animal fighting. DOGS opposes the inclusion of “breaking sticks, treadmills, unprescribed veterinary medicine and treatment supplies” in the definition of animal fighting paraphernalia. These are things that many dog owners use or have. Pitbull Rescues advise owners to have a a breaking stick on hand in case they need to break up a dog fight which can occur when one has multiple dogs in the home. We have been told that amendment will be brought in addressing our concerns.
HB1499 – relative to certificates for rabies vaccination of dogs, cats, or ferrets
STATUS: The House Environment and Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on 2/2/16 at 11 a.m.
DOGS POSITION: Oppose
This bill would eliminate the requirement for veterinarians to send a copy of the rabies certificate to the town clerk. This might reduce the compliance with dog licensing laws. If an unlicensed dog were to bite a person, there would be no way to quickly determine its owner or its vaccination status resulting in the possibility of the victim having to go through post-exposure prophylaxis which is both expensive and painful.
Update on recent bills
SB505-FN – relative to the transfer of animals and birds.
STATUS: Committee Report – Inexpedient to Legislate (4 -0). The full Senate will vote 2/4/16.
Several of the committee’s senators thanked the DOGS’s representatives for their testimony.
HB1230 – relative to information on dog licenses
STATUS: Committee Report – Inexpedient to Legislate (13-0). The full House will vote 2/4/16.
From the House Calendar: Keith Ammon for Municipal and County Government. The purpose of this bill is admirable and the mandate is minimal. At the time of issuing a dog license, the issuing authority would be required to ask the owner if there should be a second contact name added to the license. This would facilitate a second contact person in the event the original could not be contacted or, in emergencies, if the original person was unable to care for the dog. It would simply direct the licensing authority to add the name of that contact person with contact information. The possibility that this would require a change to the form used for licensing was considered but the sponsor felt that simply adding the information to the bottom of the form would be sufficient. However, the committee felt it inevitable that the license form would require a change and any software recording licensing would be affected and require a change. There appears to be no impediment to adding a note on the license form to indicate a second contact person but mandating it would likely impose a financial burden.
HB 1567 -FN-A authorizing friends of animal number plates
STATUS: Committee Report – Inexpedient to Legislate (18-0). The full House will vote 2/4/16.
From the House Calendar: Alan Cohen for Transportation. The committee evaluated the bill in relation to all such specialty license plates. Based on previous testimony by the Department of Safety, the cost of producing specialty license plates is approximately $300K based substantially on the cost of software changes
HB1576- FN-L – repealing the licensure of dogs
STATUS: Committee Report – Majority: Inexpedient to Legislate. Minority: Ought to Pass with Amendment. Vote (12-3)
From the House Calendar: Rep. Susan Treleaven for the Majority of Municipal and County Government. The proposal to eliminate licensing of dogs has been before this legislature several times and was always defeated. Although there is evidence that this practice was instituted to fund “damage done by dogs” to local sheep, it has become more than that today. The fact that other animals are not required to be licensed was brought up but most of those cited were animals that are normally confined and most not subject to spreading rabies. Without licensing, strays would be almost impossible to identify, the requirement for rabies vaccinations could be largely ignored and many programs of benefit to the public would go unfunded. Testing for rabies at the State Diagnostic Lab would be curtailed as well as other animal related programs and even the office of the State Veterinarian would suffer. The committee saw little support for this legislation, which was also the case in prior year attempts to do the same.
Keith Ammon for the Minority of Municipal and County Government. The history of dog licensure can be traced back to the 1800’s when it was a community fund to be used to compensate farmers for damage to their livestock by dogs. It has since morphed into a compulsory regulatory scheme, and once a tax or regulatory scheme is in place it’s almost impossible to dislodge it. Outside interests lobby to keep it. Quite often, if a dog owner forgets to renew their license, warrants are issued by the town and the police are dispatched to their home to remind them to pay. This seems like a preposterous use of law enforcement resources. The United Kingdom abolished mandatory dog licensing in 1987 and canine chaos has not ensued. Some dog owners resent being taxed on their best friend.