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.