Floridians Gather at Capitol to Lobby for Animal Protection

April 6, 2010

(April 6, 2010) — Animal advocates from across Florida are gathering at the State Capitol for Humane Lobby Day on Tuesday. Humane Lobby Day, hosted by The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), connects advocates with lawmakers to support animal welfare legislation.

"Humane Lobby Day is a unique opportunity for animal advocates from across the state to meet with their legislators and work for stronger animal protection laws," said Jennifer Hobgood, Florida state director for The HSUS. "Floridians are urging their representatives to support measures that will help address pet overpopulation and ban large constrictor snakes as pets, as well as to maintain the state's prohibition on breed-specific dog bans."

"There are several animal-friendly bills pending and animal lovers have an opportunity to meet with their elected officials and be the voice for animals," added Ann Church, Senior Director of Government Relations for the ASPCA. "We're thrilled with the number of supporters attending the event, and hope to make headway with state legislators to enact stronger laws protecting animals from cruelty."

Spay and neuter funding
Humane Lobby Day participants are asking the legislature to increase funding for spay and neuter programs through local animal control violation penalties. The bill, SB 2372/HB 1221, would increase the penalty on violators of local animal control ordinances by $10 and direct the funds to spay/neuter efforts. Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, and Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, are sponsoring the measure.

Large constrictor snakes as pets
Advocates are also urging lawmakers to pass bipartisan legislation, HB 709/SB 318, to prohibit large constrictor snakes and Nile monitor lizards as pets. Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, and Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Ft. Myers, are the bill sponsors.

The pet trade in these exotic reptiles as pets poses serious threats to public safety, animal welfare and the environment. If large constrictor snakes escape or are released, they can multiply rapidly and prey on native wildlife. Burmese pythons are widely established in the Everglades, and African rock pythons are also thought to be reproducing in Florida.

Breed-specific dog bans
Floridians are voicing their opposition to legislation that would eliminate the state's long-standing prohibition on breed-specific local government regulation of dangerous dogs.

Florida currently prohibits local communities from outlawing an entire breed of dogs in their dangerous dog ordinances. This bill would repeal that prohibition, allowing pit bulls and other breeds to be banned or severely restricted.

Unlawful horse slaughter
Animal advocates are also backing SB 1708/HB 765, which would strengthen penalties for unlawful horse slaughter in Florida. The bill also broadens the definition of horses so that all horses are covered. This legislation is sponsored by Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, and Rep. Luis Garcia, D-Miami.

Shelter pet adoption
Animal advocates are backing a resolution introduced by Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, and Rep. Faye B. Culp, R-Tampa, to declare April 2010 Adopt-a-Shelter-Pet Month. The measure encourages Florida citizens to adopt cats and dogs from animal shelters.

Last year, states across the country enacted 121 new laws for animals. The HSUS works with animal advocates and state legislators to enact laws protecting animals from cruelty, combating animal fighting, halting wildlife abuse and more.