A Wisconsin Assembly Committee is scheduled to consider a bill on Wednesday, January 13, that would make several changes to current law regarding animals taken by shelters and local humane societies. The AKC is concerned, however, that several provisions in the bill as introduced would punish responsible owners and make it more difficult for them to keep their pets in certain situations.
A Wisconsin Assembly Committee is scheduled to consider a bill on Wednesday, January 13, that would make several changes to current law regarding animals taken by shelters and local humane societies.
Those who reside or participate in dog events in Wisconsin are strongly encouraged to contact the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety and express your concerns with AB 487 as currently written. Follow the links on the committee’s web page for the contact information for the committee members.
Assembly Bill 487 makes several changes regarding animals believed to have been used in “crimes against animals” as defined in state law. The AKC strongly believes that all who own or care for animals have an obligation to treat them in a humane and responsible manner, and those who mistreat animals must be held accountable.
The AKC is concerned, however, that several provisions in the bill as introduced would punish responsible owners and make it more difficult for them to keep their pets in certain situations, including:
- Decreasing the holding period for stray animals from 7 days to 4 days. Under AB 487, there are many instances in which local governments only have to keep an animal that is presumed to be “abandoned” or “strayed” for 4 days.
There are instances where a dog may escape through a front door or unlocked gate, or may get lost while being cared for while owners are away, and it may take longer than four days for the animal to be found. As the goal should be reuniting lost pets with their owners, the state should instead focus on helping shelters develop procedures to notify the public of dogs brought in, check for microchips, and other actions that will help owners find their dogs.
The official Fiscal Estimate indicates this bill could also have a financial impact, because “…if a local government chooses to euthanize or release a stray animal after the 4-day waiting period, there may be additional costs….including phone calls, emails, and visits by distraught animal owners whose pet went missing and was euthanized or given away after only 4 days.”
- Requiring those accused (but not convicted) of any “crime against animals” to post for the animal’s care while they are being held or forfeit ownership forever. Current law allows local governments to ask the court to require the owner of the animal to post bond for the costs of care and treatment of the animal, pending the outcome of the court case and other proceedings.
A new provision in AB 487 would allow whatever organization or person has been contracted to care for the animal during a court case to send requests for payment to the owner no more than every 14 days. The owner has 30 days to pay, or they permanently lose their animal – even if they are ultimately found not guilty or charges are dropped. The owner does have the opportunity to challenge the costs within 20 days after the payment demand is made.
AKC Government Relations will continue to closely monitor this legislation. For questions or more information, contact the Dog Federation of Wisconsin at firstname.lastname@example.org or AKC Government Relations at email@example.com.