Utah Senator Gene Davis (D-Salt Lake City) has been working with the Humane Society of Utah, the ASPCA, The Humane Society of the United States and Best Friends Animal Society to support the passage of three bills that will help protect animals in the state.
This legislative session, the senator will be sponsoring bills that would limit dog tethering, stop the sale of puppies and dogs in public places and make cockfighting a felony.
“We hope this unprecedented collaboration will lead to signiﬁcant changes that will better protect the animals of our state,” said HSU Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt.
The proposed legislation would make it illegal to tie a dog out anywhere for more than 10 hours a day, in addition to giving law enforcement officers the ability to access vehicles and remove an animal if they see one in distress.
“A life of being chained up isn’t good animal husbandry,” Seator Davis told the Salt Lake Tribune. “If you have your animal and it’s a pet and is a part of your family, then make it a part of your family. You have to spend time with the animal and not keep it tied up all day.”
The bill cracking down on puppy sales would ban people from selling or giving away dogs and puppies in public places, such as parking lots, with a $250 fine for first time offenders, while second offenses would result in a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1,000.
According to Baierschmidt, this bill isn’t intended to target responsible breeders, but to help stop impulse purchases that often result in pets being dumped at shelters after people change their minds. He estimated that state shelters get around 10,000 animals each year.
The bill banning cockfighting would make it a felony in Utah, which is one of ten states that don’t currently have any felony penalties in place for offenders. A recent survey of residents conducted by Mason Dixon Polling & Research Inc. found that 70 percent would support such a move, while only 15 percent opposed tougher penalties.
“Affixing sharp blades to animals and forcing them to fight to the death for entertainment and wagering is a bloody spectacle that cannot be abided in Utah,” said Deborah Foote, state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Southwest region. “Weak penalties for cockfighting will make Utah a magnet for criminals. Compassion, as well as a desire for law enforcement’s ability to address cruelty, drug use, gambling, prostitution and other crimes associated with cockfighting, should all motivate lawmakers to move S.B. 52 swiftly to the governor’s desk.”
The advocacy groups supporting these bills hope they will help animals and improve the state’s ranking when it comes to animal protection laws. Last year Utah was ranked 46th in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Animal Protection Law Rankings and 41st in the HSUS’ 2012 Humane State Rankings.
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