Florida State SealThe best way to show legislators that animal protection is an important issue, is for animal advocates to communicate with their elected officials.

Legislators do care what constituents (voters) think about issues. After all, elected officials generally want to be re-elected, and that means adequately addressing matters important to their constituents.

Please contact your state senator and state representative and ask that they support the following bills.

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  March 9 was the last day of the 2012 legislative session.
  HB 1197 - Agriculture
During the last week of the legislative session, State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff added an amendment to an unrelated agriculture bill that repeals an existing state law (828.161) that prohibits the dyeing or coloring of rabbits, chickens and other animals. The existing law also makes it unlawful to sell or give away baby chickens or ducklings under 4 weeks of age or rabbits under 2 months of age.

Bunnies, chicks or ducklings are often purchased on a whim by people unaware of the time and expense that is required to properly care for them. Allowing the coloring of animals, and the sale of baby animals, makes it more likely that the animals will be neglected or abandoned.

Status: HB 1197, the bill including the ill-conceived amendment, was passed by the Florida Senate and the Florida House of Representatives. The bill was signed into law by Governor Scott on April 6.


SB 382 and HB 641 — Greyhound racing
greyhoundSenate Bill 382, introduced by Senator Maria Sachs (co-introducer Senator Don Gaetz), and House Bill 641, introduced by Representative Dana Young (co-sponsored by Representatives Mark Pafford and Darren Soto), would remove the requirement that dog tracks conduct live racing in order to also offer slots or poker. If passed, many dog tracks in Florida would almost certainly choose to end live racing to focus on more profitable forms of gambling. There is wide support for this legislation, among the operators of dog tracks in Florida and among Floridians concerned about the welfare of racing greyhounds.

Status: SB 382 and HB 641 did not make it out of committees before the end of the session. ARFF hopes that this legislation will be reintroduced next year.

Please thank Senator Sachs and Representative Young for introducing this important legislation.
• Senator Maria Lorts Sachs. E-mail: sachs.maria.web@flsenate.gov
• Representative Dana Young. Click here to send an e-mail to Rep. Young.


SB 488 and HB 527 — Surcharge to subsidize spay & neuter
Senate Bill 488, introduced by Senator Nan Rich (co-introducer Senator Don Gaetz), and House Bill 527, introduced by Representative Scott Randolph, would allow county's or municipalities in Florida to collect a $15 surcharge for each violation of an ordinance relating to animal cruelty or control. At least $9 of the surcharge would be used to subsidize the costs of spaying or neutering dogs and cats in the community.

Status: SB 488 passed the Florida Senate with a 39-0 vote. Unfortunately, HB 527 did not make it to the House floor for a vote.

Please thank Senator Rich and Representative Randolph for introducing this legislation.
• Senator Nan Rich. E-mail: rich.nan.web@flsenate.gov
• Representative Scott Randolph. Click here to send an e-mail to Rep. Randolph.


SB 654 and HB 479 — Humane euthanasia of dogs and cats
Senate Bill 654, introduced by Senator Alan Hays, and House Bill 479, introduced by Representative Marlene O'Toole (co-sponsored by Representatives Matt Caldwell and Alan Williams), would prohibit intracardial injection (when euthanasia drugs are injected directly into one of the chambers of the heart) as a method of euthanasia on conscious animals. Intracardial injection, commonly known as "heart-sticking," is extremely painful and should only be done if an animal is under sedation.

Status: On March 7, SB 654/HB 479 passed the Florida Senate with a unanimous 39-0 vote! On February 23, HB 479 passed the Florida House of Representatives with a 116-0 vote. The bill was signed into law by Governor Scott on April 27.

Please thank Senator Hays and Representative O'Toole for introducing this legislation.
• Senator Alan Hays. E-mail: hays.alan.web@flsenate.gov
• Representative Marlene O'Toole. Click here to send an e-mail to Rep. O'Toole.


SB 1322 and HB 997 — Breed discriminatory laws
In 1990, the Florida legislature passed a law prohibiting local governments from enacting ordinances which target specific dog breeds for restrictions or bans, but an already existing ban on "pit bulls" in Miami-Dade County was grandfathered in. Senate Bill 1322, introduced by Senator Jim Norman, and House Bill 997, introduced by Representative Carlos Trujillo, would remove that exemption.

Miami-Dade County is the only county in Florida with a ban on pit bull-type dogs. The ban does not effectively address the problem of dangerous dogs and penalizes responsible dog guardians. Dogs should not be judged solely on appearance. There are more appropriate methods of curbing dangerous dog behavior.

Status: HB 997 and SB 1322 were both reported favorably out of several committees, but did not make it to the floor of the House or Senate for votes before the end of the legislative session.

Please thank Senator Norman and Representative Trujillo for introducing this legislation:
• Senator Jim Norman. E-mail: norman.jim.web@flsenate.gov
• Representative Representative Carlos Trujillo. Click here to send an e-mail to Rep. Trujillo.


SB 1078 and HB 993 — Animal fighting
Senate Bill 1078, introduced by Senator Oscar Braynon, and House Bill 993, introduced by Representative Trudi Williams, would strengthen Florida's animal fighting statute by making it easier for law enforcement to make arrests (and obtain convictions) when animal fighting paraphernalia, such as spurs or a fighting pit, are discovered.

Status: HB 993 and SB 1078 did not advance out of committees.

Please thank Senator Braynon and Representative Williams for introducing this legislation:
• Senator Oscar Braynon, II. E-mail: braynon.oscar.web@flsenate.gov
• Representative Trudi K. Williams. Click here to send an e-mail to Rep. Williams.


SB 288 — Domestic violence against family pets
Senate Bill 288, introduced by Senator Mike Fasano, would redefine the term "domestic violence" to include "inflicting, or attempting to inflict, physical injury against an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by one family or household member by another family or household member, or placing a family or household member in fear of physical harm to an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by that family or household member." The bill would also give victims of domestic violence the right to gain custody of their companion animal, and to obtain an order of protection keeping abusers away from the animal(s). The link between domestic violence and animal abuse is well documented. This legislation would provide protection for people and animals in violent homes.

Status: SB 288 did not advance out of committee.

Please thank Senator Fasano for introducing this legislation:
• Senator Mike Fasano. E-mail: fasano.mike.web@flsenate.gov


SB 1184 and HB 1021 — "Ag Gag" bill
Section 6 of Senate Bill 1184, introduced by Senator Jim Norman, and House Bill 1021, introduced by Representative Ben Albritton, would make it a crime to enter a farm and take photographs or make any audio/video recording without the owner's permission. The crime would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and/or $1,000 fine. If enacted, the legislation would punish whistleblowers and make it easier for farms to hide illegal or inhumane practices.

Status: On January 23, the "ag gag" language was removed from SB 1184. In a similar move on January 25, the controversial section was removed from HB 1021. The "Ag Gag" bill is dead for 2012!


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