The Delaware Senate’s agenda for Tuesday, April 25, 2023, includes a bill that would provide immunity to people who, in good faith, report suspected animal cruelty from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise exist as a result of making the report.
Those who would like contact members of the Senate prior to the Tuesday 2pm session may do so by clicking here and then clicking on you State Senator’s name. You can also find the contact information by typing your address in the “Find Your Elected Officials” box on the home page of the AKC Legislative Action Center and view the name and information for your State Senator.
Senate Bill 71 provides immunity for people making a “good faith” report of suspected animal cruelty from any civil or criminal liability.
Additionally, the bill would also require law-enforcement agencies, the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, and the Department of Justice to report suspected animal cruelty to the Office of Animal Welfare if it is discovered while performing their responsibilities in child welfare cases.
While AKC strongly believes that those who treat animals in a cruel manner should be held accountable and punished accordingly, this bill raises a number of concerns. In some incidents, a person with no expertise in animal husbandry may misunderstand a situation. Further, it can provide an avenue for excessive, frivolous, or even persecutorial reporting – punishing responsible owners and creating significant burdens on the state while providing no penalty for false reporting.
In addition, the reporting requirement placed on official agents not qualified to do so not only places additional burdens on those agents in oftentimes trying situation, but it could also serve to either cause abuse to be reported where it does not exist, or the failure to report abuse where it does exist.
AKC Government Relations continues to monitor legislation impacting dog owners in Delaware. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at email@example.com.