Amended Vermont House Bill 421 has been placed on today’s Senate calendar, providing notice to the Vermont State Senate of an upcoming vote. The bill, which is supported by both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs (VT Federation), has already been voted favorably by the Vermont House of Representatives and amended favorably by the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee.
ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER TRAINING AND AUTHORIZATION
HB 421, as passed by the House, would (1) narrow the list of individuals authorized as “humane officers” who investigate cases of animal cruelty and (2) mandate the completion of trainings approved by the Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board (“Board”). If enacted as passed by the House, a humane officer could only be either a municipal or humane society employee, while public health officials and other individuals with no animal background performing these responsibilities, would be eliminated. The Board would also be required to maintain an index of humane officers who have been trained, and be permitted to create and require refresher training for humane officers.
While the AKC and the VT Federation generally supported HB 421 as approved by the House, both expressed concern to the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee with the bill’s proposed definition of “humane society”, which was defined as a “private nonprofit animal care agency”. This definition would have allowed organizations, without any physical facility to house animals, to designate an employee as a humane officer empowered to investigate animal cruelty cases. In our view, it is of vital importance that such organizations have possession and use of a physical “facility” to appropriately fulfill the duties of appointed humane officers. As a result of testimony provided by AKC and the VT Federation, an amendment to substitute the word “facility” for the word “agency” was offered and unanimously adopted. This change would also clarify the humane officer’s assigned geographical area.
AKC is grateful the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee addressed this concern and voted the bill favorably on April 23, 2021.
VOICE YOUR SUPPORT TODAY: AKC strongly encourages those who reside in Vermont to contact their state senator and ask them to vote for HB 421, as amended. First, find your state senator’s contact information by entering your senator’s name, or the town where you live to identify your senator, on this site. Second, send an email with your name and contact information asking them to vote “yes” on HB 421, as amended.
For more information on these or other legislative issues in Vermont, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at 919-816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.