Yesterday, Governor John Carney signed Senate Bill 71. This bill 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.
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.
Senate Bill 71, along with Senate Bill 70 and House Bill 95, was part of a three bill package to enhance Delaware’s existing protections against domestic violence and bring clarity to existing divorce law.
As noted in a previous alert, AKC remains concerned that Senate Bill 71 could provide an avenue for excessive, frivolous, or even persecutorial reporting by – punishing responsible owners and creating significant burdens on the state. Additionally, the reporting requirement placed on official agents not qualified to do so could serve to either cause abuse to be reported where it does not exist, or the failure to report abuse where it does exist.
Senate Bill 70 adds abuse of a pet as a reason to be granted a protection from abuse order.
House Bill 95 requires Family Court to award possession of companion animals when dividing marital property in divorces and to determine who will be responsible for their care. The bill allows for consideration of the well-being of the companion animal when making the decision.
All three bills became effective with the Governor’s signature. Given the unclarity of what will constitute a “good faith” report, AKC is encouraging people to monitor the implementation of the bill.
AKC Government Relations continues to monitor legislation in Delaware impacting dog owners. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.