The Florida Animal Rescue Act is the type of lifesaving legislation that should be enacted in every state where pet overpopulation is a problem. Yet there is a chance this common-sense measure may never become law unless animal lovers take action.
“The Florida Animal Rescue Act (FARA) will make it illegal for shelters to kill any animal that a qualified 501(c) 3 animal rescue organization is willing to save.”
The bill also requires that all public and private animal shelters document the intake and outcome for each animal in the system. It will have to disclose whether a pet is returned to an owner, adopted or euthanized.
FARA will shift the focus of animal shelters from killing homeless pets to saving their lives. It will save taxpayers’ money and let Florida residents know what happens to animals in the custody of municipal shelters.
On January 23, FARA was unanimously approved by the Florida Senate Community Affairs Committee. The next stop is the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.
The bill is being opposed by the Florida Animal Control Association and some individual shelters because they claim many of Florida’s non-profit rescue groups are actually “hoarders” in disguise. And as a group, they favor euthanizing cats and dogs rather than handing them over to “potentially disguised” animal hoarders.
The history of shelters working collaboratively with rescue groups is poor. An estimated 63 percent of non-profit animal rescue groups in the state have had at least one incident of an animal shelter refusing to give them custody of an unwanted pet they could save, and then turning around and euthanizing that animal.
The animal rescue groups see it as a way for state animal shelters to maintain control over their “perceived right and discretion to kill animals.”
FARA specifically provides a safeguard against hoarders or anyone who may harbor bad intentions against animals. It excludes organizations with a “volunteer, staff member, director, and /or officer with a conviction for animal neglect, cruelty, and /or dog fighting.”
Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies endorses the bill. She said, “We believe this groundbreaking legislation, if passed by the full state legislature, would save the lives of countless animals entering animal pounds and shelters in the state each year.”
“Current animal shelter policies in most states cause the vast majority of cats entering shelters – more than 70 percent—to be killed there. In fact, being killed by a shelter is by far the leading documented cause of death for cats in the U.S.”
Side note: The rate for euthanizing stray cats in the municipal shelters where this writer lives is 90 percent.
Take Action: Please sign, Save Lives with Florida Animal Rescue Act. It’s not too late to save the homeless animals in Florida.
Photo from johnsy via flickr.