It seems not a day goes by without some kind of legislation involving animal welfare making headlines across the country. Bills introduced on the local, state and even national levels have become important issues because animal welfare has emerged as a major priority to an increasingly growing population of people. At Tails, we know that keeping current and understanding the legal issues as they pertain to our beloved animal companions—and all animals in general is important to our readers. Which is why we created “It’s the Law,” by Laura Allen, executive director of the Animal Law Coalition a non-profit, which brings the latest animal legal news to attorneys, law students and the public, and offers legal analysis of the issues affecting animals.
New York Close to Establishing First Animal Abuse Registry…
This past month the Suffolk County, New York Legislature passed an ordinance that if approved by County Executive Steve Levy, will require all adults convicted of an animal abuse crime in New York state to register as an animal abuser. The registry will contain the offender’s name, any aliases, current address, and a photo. Each offender must pay $50 annually and remain on the registry for five years following the last conviction for animal abuse. Failure to register could mean a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
A number of states including New York and California introduced bills this past session to establish statewide registries but none passed. Suffolk County is the first jurisdiction in the nation to establish an animal abuse registry. It works like a sex offender registry. Citizens in Suffolk County can check the registry to find out if a convicted animal abuser lives in their neighborhood. The registry will also help law enforcement keep track of animal fighters and other animal abusers who tend to move locations to avoid detection. Animal control and law enforcement around the country can check the registry to determine who now living in their area was previously a resident of Suffolk County and convicted of animal abuse or animal fighting in New York.
The registry would help warn shelters and rescues as well as pet owners of abusers in the area to avoid. It would be a deterrent to animal abuse including farm animal abuse. It would also serve as an early warning indicator of those likely to commit domestic abuse or other violent crimes.
Pet-abuse.com is an online non-profit registry that tracks cases of animal abuse nationwide. The founder, Alison Gianotto, hailed the new Suffolk County law but warned it will be important to standardize registries so that each can be integrated into a national database and law enforcement can access and compare data from different jurisdictions. Click HERE for more information.
Strong Support For Proposed Missouri Puppy Mill Bill…
There is an entire bill to regulate puppy mills on Missouri’s ballot this November. After bills to regulate puppy mills were stalled year after year in the legislature’s agriculture committees, citizens are taking their case for strong regulation directly to the voters. Click HERE for more.
U.S. Wild Horses Still in Danger…
A New York federal judge has refused to step up and protect wild horses threatened by anotherBureau of Land Management (BLM) roundup, this time in Colorado. For more on that decision, click HERE. This following the refusal of federal courts in August, 2010 to stop the round up of more than 2,000 wild horses in Nevada. For more on that case and the deadly roundup that followed, click HERE.
In a related story, Nevada federal judge also refused to protect mares about to give birth and foals from a mid-summer roundup in the searing heat. Horses collapsed and died from dehydration after they were forced to run for miles during the roundup. For more on that go HERE.
Under BLM’s plan, there will be more wild horses held in costly long term holding facilities than on the range by the end of this year. This despite a 1971 federal law, the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1331 et seq., that mandates BLM to protect wild horses on the range from “harassment,” “capture,” and “death,” and manage them to “maintain free-roaming behavior” at the “minimal feasible level.” Click on the link for more on the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
There is hope in a promising lawsuit filed in late September, 2010 to challenge the zeroing out of wild horses in the West Douglas herd area. For more, click HERE.
Another lawsuit challenging the BLM and U.S. Forest Service’s treatment of wild horses remains pending. The lawsuit challenges the agencies’ rejection of a Natural Management Approach for the Pryor Mountain wild horse herd and the planned construction of a two-mile long fence which would cut off the wild horses from crucial summer and fall grazing lands they’ve used for centuries. For more on this issue click HERE.
The good news is that members of Congress continue to call on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to stop the cruel roundups. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) says, “The actions of the BLM are contrary to The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971’s original intent to manage the wild horses and burros in their natural state and to protect them from capture and harassment. I have repeatedly called for an end to these roundups until a more humane and cost-effective solution has been put in place. The Obama administration should be ashamed that this is happening under its watch.” For more information and what you can do to help stop the roundups, please click HERE.