Last month, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a new Illinois state law that protects customers who buy dogs or cats who are subsequently found to be ill. If a pet dies within 21 days of purchase, the owner will be entitled to a reimbursement or replacement if a veterinarian says the animal was sick when sold. The so-called “puppy lemon law” protects customers, but it’s also designed to put pressure on and hold accountable pet stores that obtain their animals from puppy mills. The law, which saw support from the Humane Society and the Puppy Mill Project, will go into effect on Jan. 1.
Illinois isn’t the only state that’s doing more to protect pets and animals. Other states have implemented pet lemon laws in recent months, as well as other laws protecting pets and pet owners. We’ve got the lowdown on new pet laws put on the books so far this year.
VERMONT’S NEW PET LEMON LAW
Earlier this year, the state of Vermont introduced stricter regulations for pet breeders and dealers. State Representative John Bartholomew, a former animal program director at the National Institutes of Health, introduced a bill to clarify and strengthen regulations for dog, cat and wolf-hybrid breeders in the state. The bill, which Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law in May, introduces new fees and stricter inspection standards for pet dealers, as well as including a pet lemon law. (VTDigger.org)
NEW YORK’S UPDATED PET LEMON LAW
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York also signed new laws cracking down on pet stores that buy from puppy mills, tightening already existing laws by increasing the fee imposed on such stores to $100, and also strengthening the state’s already-existing pet lemon law. Under the old pet lemon law, pet owners were given two weeks to find and report defects in their new pets. The new version of the law allows six months. (Legislative Gazette)
NEW YORK CITY COPS TAKE ON ANIMAL ABUSE CALLS
For 147 years, the American Society of Cruelty to Animals has responded to reports of animal cruelty, but in recent years, they’ve started to get overwhelmed. That actually a good thing, because in their estimation it’s not that people are abusing animals more frequently than before, but that they are tolerating animal cruelty less, and reporting it more often. Now the NYPD is stepping in to help. Police will add enforcement of animal-cruelty laws into their regular duties, along with the government funding and resources that the ASPCA just doesn’t have. The ASPCA will continue to work with police, offering their expertise and providing treatment for abused animals. (New York Times)
THE PETS ON TRAINS ACT
If you want to use an Amtrak train for your next travel experience, you can bring a pet only if it’s a necessary service or therapy animal. But that could change soon, because Congress is considering the Pets on Trains Act, a bill that would allow pets on Amtrak trains. Taking a pet aboard would cost travelers an extra fee, of course, and animals would need to stay in a designated pets car, but vacationers would no longer have to rule out Amtrak as an option if they want their pets to come along. The bill appears to be enjoying bipartisan support in Congress because apparently Democrats and Republicans, despite all their differences, can still agree about loving their pets. (The Daily Beast)
COLORADO CRACKS DOWN ON COPS KILLING DOGS
People get understandably angry when they hear about police officers killing dogs. In Colorado, it’s happened 50 times in just five years. Whether these killings are accidents, careless mistakes, deliberate aggression or acts of self-defense, that’s too many dogs dying, usually for no good reason. But now the state is holding its law enforcement accountable. A new law has passed that will require police officers to receive training that will teach them to diffuse situations involving dogs peaceably instead of just shooting to kill. The law is the first of its kind in the U.S., but hopefully more states will follow. (KWGN)
We’re not happy about all new pet-related laws. Breed-specific legislation is that which seeks to ban or restrict ownership of certain dog breeds like Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and others, because many people still stereotype and profile breeds based on anecdotal and circumstantial evidence instead of, y’know, facts. But despite support for BSL in some circles, many influential groups and individuals have spoken out against BSL, including the American Humane Association, the American Kennel Club, the American Bar Association and even President Obama himself. Last month, the White House said in an official statement, “We don’t support breed-specific legislation.” Happily, several states have banned legislation that discriminates against breeds. In May of this year, Nevada because the 14th such state to ban BSL.
WILDLIFE LAW MAY CHANGE IN WISC. AFTER KILLING OF BABY DEER
In July, 13 law-enforcement officers raided a Wisconsin animal shelter to kill a baby deer named Giggles. The 35-pound fawn had been brought to the shelter after being orphaned, and she was due to be released back into the wild the very next day, but the agents, acting on an anonymous tip, came and killed Giggles because Wisconsin law forbids the possession of wildlife. Now, due to this incident, the law may change how the Department of Natural Resources can enforce wildlife laws, so that they may not euthanize a deer unless it is likely to be carrying disease or cause harm. The proposed changes will go to the Natural Resources Board this month. (Examiner)
Next: Expert Advice on Pet Legal Issues
FREE-ROAMING CATS OUTLAWED IN EDMONDS, WASH.
There’s been some uproar this year over the cat population — both feral and outdoor domestic — and how they affect the populations of birds and other critters. Now some cities and towns are starting to crack down on potentially destructive, free-roaming cats. The city of Edmonds in Washington state, for example, recently outlawed free-roaming pet cats. Despite protests from some who claim it’s unnatural and even cruel to keep cats indoors, Edmonds residents no longer have a choice. Given all the recent controversy surrounding this issue, we doubt this will be the last time we hear about a town changing its laws regarding the cat population. (KCPQ)