Although the economy made 2009 a somewhat tough year for animal-friendly legislation, hard work by legislators, the animal welfare community and animal advocates like you helped bring many wonderful state-level bills over the finish line. We were gratified to see many states continue to pass anti-animal fighting laws—these were big in 2008, and the trend is still going strong. The year also saw multiple states pass laws to restrict tethering, increase penalties for intentional acts of animal cruelty and allow pets to be included in court-issued orders of protection.
In addition, more and more state governments are taking a long, hard look at puppy mills and attempting to rein in the abuses that are so prevalent in the commercial dog breeding industry. States passed all kinds of puppy mill-related laws last year: some mandated exercise and humane standards of care; others required breeders to get licensed and submit to inspections; and a few states even placed limits on the number of intact dogs a breeder may keep, which ensures that an individual puppy mill can never become a truly enormous operation. With the public growing ever more educated about the horrors of puppy mills, we predict more of these types of laws to come in 2010.
On a not-so-bright note, state-level legislation seeking to bring horse slaughter plants back to the U.S. spiked in 2009. While the Tennessee and Illinois legislatures were able to thwart pro-slaughter bills, Montana was not so lucky—in early May, the state passed a law to allow investor-owned horse slaughter plants to operate and prohibit courts from granting injunctions to stop or delay their construction. In addition, at least seven states passed resolutions calling on Congress to defeat the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503/S. 727), pending legislation that would prohibit all activities related to the commerce of horses, dead or alive, across state lines and international borders for the purpose of human consumption. Animal advocates need to remain vigilant and active to prevent the scourge of horse slaughter for human consumption from returning within our borders.
Want to get in on the action? Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, an email group of more than 1.4 million "political animals" who help us get the job done! And read on to learn about some of the coolest new laws for animals and see what types of bills succeeded in multiple states in 2009.
2009's Greatest Hits (some of our favorite new laws)
SB 135—Ban on Cow Tail Docking
Effective: January 1, 2010
In October, California became the first state in the nation to ban the docking of dairy cows' tails—meaning that the country's number-one dairy state is actually leading the way for humane farming reform! Thanks are due to the California members of the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, whose swift response to our three email alerts on this bill helped propel it to victory and secure the governor's signature.
SB 499—Puppy Lemon Law & Trace Back
Effective: July 1, 2009
A real nail-biter, SB 499 completed its journey through the Connecticut General Assembly at 11:00 P.M. on June 3—the last hour of the last day of the legislative session. This new law improves Connecticut's "puppy lemon law" and helps people who have inadvertently purchased a sick animal by increasing the amount of money they may claim from the seller for veterinary expenses. It also increases the window for reimbursement and covers puppies who become ill as a result of congenital defects. We really love the provision that requires pet shops to reveal the identities of the dog and cat breeders and dealers they use—and the stipulation that when those breeders reside in another state, they must be licensed by the USDA and the appropriate state agency. The ASPCA did substantial lobbying work on this measure and sent out five "take action" emails to our Connecticut Advocacy Brigade at different stages of the bill's journey.
HB 4039—Spay/Neuter of Shelter Animals
Effective: August 11, 2009 (immediately upon becoming law)
Passed in just six months, this bill amended the Illinois Animal Welfare Act to instruct that animal shelters and animal control facilities may not adopt out a cat or dog who has not been sterilized and microchipped. Special exemptions are in place for animals who are too sick for these procedures at the time of adoption and for adopters who agree, in writing, to have them performed on the pet within 30 days. The ASPCA is a strong supporter of the mandatory spay/neuter of shelter animals—it is a huge step toward ending pet overpopulation and achieving a future when no healthy pet will be euthanized due to lack of a home.
HB 155—Owner Liability for Dangerous Dogs
Effective: June 30, 2009
Better watch out, irresponsible dog owners! We'll let the introduction to HB 155 speak for itself: "The ownership of dangerous dogs has become an increasing problem in Louisiana resulting in the injury or death of many people following an encounter with a dangerous dog. The Louisiana Legislature hereby finds that owners of dangerous dogs who fail to properly confine or restrain them should be criminally responsible for the injuries their animals cause to the citizens of this state." In a nutshell, if your dog injures or kills a person in Louisiana due to your carelessness, you may now be charged with criminal negligence or negligent homicide. The new law includes exceptions (such as incidents when security dogs harm people attempting unlawful entry) and penalties.
HB 5127—Inhumane Confinement of Livestock
Effective: Use of veal crates by 2012; gestation crates and battery cages by 2019
Michigan has joined the elite group of states (AZ, CA, CO, FL, ME, OR) that ban the cruelest confinement practices for commercially raised livestock. Tethering or confining any gestating sow, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen for all or the majority of a day in a manner that prevents it from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around is now forbidden on Michigan's commercial farms—which will effectively render veal crates, gestation crates and battery cages obsolete.
SB 132—Tethering Regulations
Effective: October 1, 2009
With the governor's signature in May, Nevada became the third state (the others are California and Texas) to restrict the amount of time a dog may be tethered or chained—Nevada's new limit is 14 hours daily. The new law also restricts the use of choke, chain and prong collars on tethered or chained dogs and dictates minimum lengths for outdoor tethers and trolleys.
A. 2653—Fur Labeling
Effective: March 1, 2010
The Garden State has followed the leads of Delaware, Massachusetts, New York and Wisconsin by requiring that any garment sold in-state containing any amount of animal fur must be labeled accurately with its country of origin and the species the fur came from. This measure protects conscientious consumers by closing the loophole in U.S. law that compels accurate labeling only for fur products appraised above a certain value. If a manufacturer has failed to affix the proper label before a product arrives in New Jersey, it is the merchant's responsibility to comply. Violators of the new law face a fine of up to $500 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
A. 999B—Humane Euthanasia
Effective: October 9, 2010 (mandate to dismantle gas chambers effective 90 days later)
A. 999B banned the euthanasia by gassing of stray and shelter animals in New York State, requiring that they instead be humanely euthanized via lethal injection by a certified euthanasia technician, licensed veterinary technician or licensed veterinarian. The ASPCA fought successfully for the inclusion of a prohibition on intracardiac euthanasia—a painful injection right into the heart—on unsedated shelter animals.
HB 2470—Puppy Mill Regulations & Lemon Law
Effective: January 1, 2010
Passed in just under six months, this bill covered a lot of ground—it limited to 50 the number of sexually intact dogs, two years of age and older, a person may possess or control; ordered large-scale breeders to practice basic, humane animal care and specific types of record-keeping; and created new sales rules for pet dealers (defined as people who sell five or more litters of dogs during a one-year period) and protections for buyers.
The State of Oregon was on fire in 2009—we'd be remiss to not mention some of the other great pro-animal legislation it passed, including bills to phase out the legality of exotic pet ownership, add equines to the state's animal abandonment statute, and make participation in cockfighting a felony offense.
HB 39—Medical Procedures
Effective: August 27, 2009 (immediately upon becoming law)
Building on the success of 2008's sweeping puppy mill reforms, HB 39 further protects Pennsylvania's pups by prohibiting dog owners from performing certain surgical procedures on their own pets, including tail docking and dewclaw amputation after five days of age, ear cropping, debarking and surgical births. These procedures may be performed only by licensed veterinarians.
HB 386/SB 258—Commercial Breeder Act: Puppy Mills
Effective: January 1, 2010
In the last few years, several large raids of Tennessee puppy mills have highlighted the dire need for stronger state regulations—and the General Assembly took note. Striking a blow in the battle against puppy mills, the Commercial Breeder Act is a comprehensive standards-of-care regulatory law for enterprises that maintain 20 or more breeding female dogs or cats. It also requires breeders to operate as legitimate businesses by complying with state sales-tax requirements; offers consumer protections; and establishes safeguards—including yearly inspection and licensing—to ensure that dogs and cats in Tennessee's commercial breeding facilities are humanely cared for. The ASPCA did substantial lobbying for the Commercial Breeder Act and activated our Tennessee Advocacy Brigade to help promote its passage to state lawmakers.
2009 State Laws by Theme
A star ("*") indicates that the state passed multiple laws on the issue.
Commercial Breeders / Puppy Mills / Pet Stores
AZ (kennel inspections)
CO (relates to Pet Animal Care and Facilities Act and a license fee increase to pay for an additional inspector)
CT (see previous section for full description)
DE (kennels and dog retailers must apply for licenses and submit to inspection, minimum standards of care defined, etc.)
IL (created Joint Task Force on Breeders and Pet Stores)
ME (established breeder licenses and fees, requires disclosure by sellers, etc.)
NE (several positive changes to the Commercial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Act)
OR (see previous section for full description)
TN (see previous section for full description)
WA (welfare standards and limit on number of breeding dogs)
WI (defined "breeder" as selling 25 or more dogs in one year, breeders must get state license, standards of care defined, etc.)
Animal Fighting Penalties
AZ (hog-dog fighting and being a spectator at a cockfight became felonies)
CA* (asset seizure; increased penalties for spectators)
IL* (increased criminal penalties; post-conviction limitations on dog ownership; asset seizure)
KS* (penalties for having paraphernalia and being a spectator; asset forfeiture)
NV (prohibited buying/owning/training a fighting animal)
OR* (attendance a felony; increased penalties; post-conviction limitations on dog ownership; mandatory mental health evaluation and treatment for those convicted)
TX (criminalized owning or possessing dog fighting equipment)
Related to Shelters / Animal Control / Animal Control Officers
AR* (three bills that help animal control officers do their jobs)
IL (see previous section for full description)
LA (rules for appointing animal control officers)
ME (authorized animal shelters to employ animal control officers)
NC (helps owners recover lost pets, relieves shelter overcrowding and facilitates adoption, etc.)
NY (relates to law enforcement training on animal cruelty)
OR (relates to confiscated and forfeited animals)
VA* (three laws related to veterinary care at shelters, animal control and animal control officers)
Animal Cruelty Penalties and/or Definitions Upgraded
AR (felony-level penalties for aggravated cruelty to dogs, cats and horses)
AZ (horse tripping banned)
DE (dog owner, retail and kennel licenses may be revoked following cruelty conviction)
HI (hoarding redefined as keeping 15 animals, down from 20)
LA* (reclassified mistreatment and defined aggravated cruelty to animals; revised penalties)
OR* (criminalized encouragement of animal abuse; added equines to animal abandonment law)
WA (prohibited pet ownership for a period following a cruelty conviction)
Companion Animal Population Control Funds / Taxes / Animal License Plate Programs
AR (created the Animal Rescue and Shelter Trust Fund and license plate to support animal rescues and shelters)
DE (expanded eligibility for the state's Spay/Neuter Fund)
ME (relates to Companion Animal Sterilization Fund)
NJ (allows contributions to the state's Animal Population Control Fund via income tax returns)
NM (issuance of special pet license plate to support the Animal Care and Facility Fund)
NY (see previous section for full description)
LA (see previous section for full description)
NE (provided criminal penalties for owners of dangerous dogs, required animal health care professionals to report suspicions of neglect and cruelty)
VA* (restitution for people or pets injured or killed by dangerous dogs; relates to court use of the Dangerous Dog Registry)
NV (see previous section for full description)
Pet Trusts Allowed
Protective Orders for Animals Allowed
Surgical Procedures Banned
CA (see previous section for full description)
PA (dogs: debarking, tail docking and surgical births banned by non-veterinarians)
CT (prohibited the possession of great apes as pets)
OR (prohibited the breeding of exotic animals except for small exotic felines)
In-State Internet/Computer-Assisted Remote Hunting Outlawed (does not necessarily prevent residents from using remote-hunting websites based in other states)
Please note: this feature is for informational purposes only; the ASPCA does not claim hands-on involvement in the creation of all laws featured.