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Several bills impacting animals and animal ownership are scheduled for hearings at the Florida state legislature this Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

SB 1044 is on the agenda of Senate Criminal Justice Committee.  Among other provisions, SB 1044 would require veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty against a dog or cat to a law enforcement or animal control agency, and further would require certain other persons to report suspected animal cruelty to a veterinarian.  We are concerned that this bill is written so broadly that, for example, any shelter volunteer could report suspected animal cruelty to any veterinarian, and thereby obligate the veterinarian to attempt to examine the pet within 24 hours.  If the veterinarian was unable to examine the pet, the veterinarian would be required to pass along the unsubstantiated allegations without personal knowledge of the facts of the case to a local law enforcement or animal control agency, or else be subject to disciplinary action.  The bill further also provides exemption from liability for “any” decisions to report suspected animal cruelty, regardless of the veracity or the intent of the report.

AKC GR is concerned that SB 1044 is overly broad and should be substantially amended.  Pet owners who share AKC’s concerns are urged to contact members of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and request that the bill be amended to protect the interests of veterinarians and to significantly limit exemptions for liability so that a bad-faith report shall not be exempted from liability.  Click here for contact information.

HB 1193 is on the agenda of the House Business & Professions Subcommittee.  HB 1193 includes a provision that empowers employees, agents, or contractors of a public or private animal shelter, humane organization, or animal control agency to implant dogs and cats with (RFID) microchips as part of their work with those groups.

While we believe the intent of this section is to provide that microchip implantation may be performed by certain individuals who are not licensed veterinarians, we are concerned that this could also allow for the implantation of an additional microchip into a pet that already has microchip. We recommend that this provision be clarified to require that a microchip may only be implanted by a person who is not a licensed veterinarian after the dog or cat that has been thoroughly scanned for an existing microchip, the date of the scan and name of the person who performed the scan is documented in the pet’s record, and the pet’s record states that no microchip was identified. 

Pet owners who share AKC’s concern are urged to contact members of the subcommittee and request that the bill be amended to address this concern.  Click here for subcommittee contact information.

SB 980 is on the agenda of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  Among positive provisions, SB 980 would require certain animal shelters, humane organizations, or animal control agencies that take receivership of any lost, stray, unwanted, or homeless dogs or cats, to adopt written policies and procedures to achieve specified goals and conform to certain operational standards.

SB 980 also provides that employees, agents, or contractors of a public or private animal shelter or animal control agency may implant dogs and cats with microchips.  We appreciate this responsible action, but are concerned that this could allow for the implantation of an additional microchip into a pet that already has microchip. We recommend that this provision be clarified to require that a microchip may only be implanted by a person who is not a licensed veterinarian after the dog or cat that has been thoroughly scanned for an existing microchip, the date of the scan and name of the person who performed the scan is documented in the pet’s record, and the pet’s record states that no microchip was identified. 

SB 980 further provides that employees, agents, or contractors of a public or private animal shelter or animal control agency may contact the owner of record of a microchip to verify pet ownership. We believe that shelter and animal control agents should be required to attempt to contact an owner associated with a pet’s microchip record upon intake, prior to any non-emergency veterinary procedure, and prior to adoption, transfer or euthanasia.  Further, times, dates, and person(s) who attempted these required owner contact attempts should be documented in the pet’s record.

Pet owners who share AKC’s concerns regarding SB 980 re urged to contact members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and request that the bill be amended to address these concerns.  Click here for contact information.

HB 241 is on the agenda of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.  HB 241 authorizes a court issuing a domestic violence injunction to award to the petitioner the exclusive care, possession, or control of an animal, except an animal owned primarily for a bona fide agricultural purpose; order the respondent to have no contact with the animal; and enjoin the respondent from taking, transferring, harming, or disposing of the animal. AKC GR is monitoring this bill.

SB 240 is on the agenda of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  SB240 would designate any animal that resides in or has been adopted from an animal shelter or animal rescue organization as the official Florida state pet.  AKC GR is monitoring this bill.

Please contact doglaw@akc.org or call 919-816-3720 for additional information.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at enewsletter@akc.org
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