Full Title Name:  Animal-Related Laws Enacted or Amended in 2010

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Rebecca F. Wisch Place of Publication:  Michigan State University College of Law Publish Year:  2011 Primary Citation:  Animal Legal & Historical Center

This article provides an overview of animal-related laws passed and/or amendment in 2010.

2010 was a year with relatively few, but some significant changes to state animal-related laws. Most of the new laws and amendments concerned companion animals. In particular, four states enacted pet trust laws between 2009 - 2010. Both Oklahoma and Wisconsin enacted comprehensive commercial pet breeder laws. Other topics include changes to cruelty laws, amendments to assistance animal laws, and the enactment by Nebraska of a livestock animal welfare act.

The changes to state laws are grouped below according to general topic with links to the actual laws. Below that, each state with changes is listed with links to the laws that were added or amended.


Animal Cruelty

Animal Fighting

Assistance Animals

Dog Breeder Laws


Exotic Pets

Impoundment of Dogs and Cats

Livestock/Farm Animals

Microchipping Laws

Pet Trusts


Veterinary Codes

Wildlife Laws



Animal Cruelty

Alaska made significant amendments to its anti-cruelty law . Under the amendment, the state can now order forfeiture of the animal subject to the cruelty. The state can also require the defendant to reimburse the state or a custodian for all reasonable costs incurred in providing necessary shelter, care, veterinary attention, or medical treatment for any animal affected. Further, intentional acts of cruelty, as defined under the statute, are now classified as class C felonies.

Florida created a mandatory minimum penalty under its horse cruelty law ( 828.125 - Killing or aggravated abuse of horses or cattle ), a law aimed at preventing horse slaughter. Now, any person who willfully and unlawfully kills, maims, mutilates, or causes great bodily harm or permanent breeding disability to any horse or registered breed of cattle commits a felony of the second degree. Additionally, amendments to the section provide a specific minimum penalty: a person who commits an act under this section shall be sentenced to a minimum mandatory fine of $3,500 and a minimum mandatory period of incarceration of one year.

Vermont added a law that makes it a crime to interfere with or commit cruelty to a guide dog. A person who recklessly injures or kills a guide dog can face imprisonment up to two years or a fine of up to $3,000, or both. A person who violates this subsection shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both. The section also outlines the penalties for a person who allows his or her dog to interfere with the guide dog, and allows the guide dog owner to receive restitution that includes veterinary expenses, replacement costs, lost wages, and "costs and expenses incurred by the person as a result of the injury to the guide dog."

In Virginia, new Section § 54.1-3812.1 immunizes any veterinarian who makes a report of suspected animal cruelty or testifies in a cruelty proceeding from any civil or criminal liability, or administrative penalty or sanction, unless the veterinarian acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose. The states joins the 28 other states that have such reporting laws ( click here to see a table of these laws).



Animal Fighting

Louisiana made the participation in cockfighting a crime last year. Under LA R.S. 14:102.24 , it is unlawful for any person to attend a cockfight, or to bet on a cockfight, or to pay admission at any location to view or bet on a cockfight. Violation incurs a fine of not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.

Nebraska added 28-1005.01 which makes it a Class I misdemeanor to knowingly or intentionally own or possess animal fighting paraphernalia with the intent to commit a violation of section 28-1005 (the state's animal fighting law). Animal fighting paraphernalia includes a breaking stick; a cat mill; a fighting pit; a treadmill; a springpole; a heel (any edged or pointed instrument designed to be attached to the leg of a fowl); a boxing glove or muff (a fitted protective covering for the spurs of a fowl); and any other instrument commonly used in the furtherance of pitting an animal against another.



Assistance Animals

Iowa amended laws related to service animals and guide dogs. In particular, Section 216C.11 , "Service dogs and assistive animals," removed language that defined a service dog as being trained at a "training facility." The law now states, "For purposes of this section, 'service dog' means a dog specially trained to assist a person with a disability." Since a person with a disability is not required to show proof of training under the federal ADA, the Iowa law comes more into line with federal requirements.

Vermont added a law that makes it a crime to interfere with or commit cruelty to a guide dog. Section § 355 defines "guide dog" broadly to mean a dog assisting a vision impaired individual, a hearing impaired individual, a seizure dog, or a dog who provides physical support by pulling a wheelchair, retrieving items, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability, and assisting with navigation. A person who recklessly injures or kills a guide dog can face imprisonment up to two years or a fine of up to $3,000, or both. A person who violates this subsection shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both. The section also outlines the penalties for a person who allows his or her dog to interfere with the guide dog, and allows the guide dog owner to receive restitution that includes veterinary expenses, replacement costs, lost wages, and "costs and expenses incurred by the person as a result of the injury to the guide dog."



Dog Breeder Laws

Nebraska also amended some provisions of its Commercial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Act . The amendments changed the fee structure for the "daily average number of dogs or cats housed by the licensee." Instead of just having a set $250 fee for any licensee who holds more than 50 dogs or cats, the changes to the law breaks adds additional categories:

(iii) Fifty-one to one hundred dogs or cats, two hundred fifty dollars;
(iv) One hundred one to one hundred fifty dogs or cats, three hundred dollars;
(v) One hundred fifty-one to two hundred dogs or cats, three hundred fifty dollars;
(vi) Two hundred one to two hundred fifty dogs or cats, four hundred dollars;
(vii) Two hundred fifty-one to three hundred dogs or cats, four hundred fifty dollars;
(viii) Three hundred one to three hundred fifty dogs or cats, five hundred dollars;
(ix) Three hundred fifty-one to four hundred dogs or cats, five hundred fifty dollars;
(x) Four hundred one to four hundred fifty dogs or cats, six hundred dollars;
(xi) Four hundred fifty-one to five hundred dogs or cats, six hundred fifty dollars; and
(xii) More than five hundred dogs or cats, two thousand dollars.

Thus, a licensee who holds only 51 animals is not charged the same as one who holds more than 500. Another change to the Act includes the adding of the term "animal rescue" to the definitional section of 54-625. The term is defined as "a person or group of persons who hold themselves out as an animal rescue, accept or solicit for dogs or cats with the intention of finding permanent adoptive homes or providing lifelong care for such dogs or cats, or who use foster homes as the primary means of housing dogs or cats."

Oklahoma enacted the comprehensive " Commercial Pet Breeders Act ." The act creates the Board of Commercial Pet Breeders, which, under the authority of the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, enforces and administers the provisions of the Commercial Pet Breeders Act. The Board adopts rules to enforce the act such as those related to licensing, standards of care (which must at a minimum meet USDA standards), and penalties. In addition, the Board of Commercial Pet Breeders is responsible for maintaining and posting on its website the directory of commercial pet breeders licensed pursuant to the Commercial Pet Breeders Act. The Board of Commercial Pet Breeders, at least annually, must arrange for the inspection of each facility of a licensed commercial breeder. The act also requires any person who holds him or herself out as a commercial breeder to obtain a license for each facility. The Board of Commercial Pet Breeders shall inspect a facility before an initial commercial pet breeder license is issued for that facility. Violation of rules related to licensing or falsification of information is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500. If the violation is related to hindering or thwarting inspection under the act, the penalty is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to $1000.

Wisconsin enacted a dog breeding law that has been said to be 10 years in the making. The law covers the following entities:

  • Dog breeders who sell at least 25 dogs per year that are from more than 3 separate litters. This includes pet stores and other retailers who sell more than 25 dogs per year 
  • Out-of-state dog dealers who bring in more than 25 dogs to sell in Wisconsin. 
  • Dog dealers or auctions that offer at least 50 dog for sale per year. 
  • Animal shelters (i.e., humane societies, animal welfare leagues, and animal rescues) are non-profits that shelter at least 25 dogs per year. 
  • Animal control facilities that are under contract with a political subdivision (i.e., city, village, town or county) 
  • Temporary dog markets (flea markets and other temporary markets where dogs are sold)

These entities must be licensed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection even if already licensed by the USDA. Failure to get license results in fine up to $10,000, nine months imprisonment, or both. the law requires inspections; facilities must be inspected prior to initial licensing and at least once every two years after that. The law also details standards of care for the dogs. Violation for standards of care or other non-licensing issue can result in up to $1000 forfeiture for first offense, and $200 to $2000 for second or subsequent offense within five-year time frame. Each animal constitutes a separate violation.

Oregon added a unique "dog-to-caretaker ratio" laws. In Oregon , a law became effective in January of 2010 that requires a person who possesses, controls or otherwise has charge of at the same time 75 or more dogs to maintain one or more individuals on site for at least eight hours each day to care for the dogs. The ratio between dogs and on-site individuals may not be more than 75 dogs to one individual.




New York made some significant changes to McKinney's Agriculture and Markets Law § 374 : "Humane destruction or other disposition of animals lost, strayed, homeless, abandoned or improperly confined or kept." The October 2010 amendments repealed sections 2-a through 2-e, which concerned prohibited means of euthanizing dogs and cats (decompression chambers, T-61, gunshot except as an "emergency procedure," and engine exhaust). Now, amended subsection 3 through 5 clarify that euthanasia "shall be accomplished solely by means of injection of sodium pentobarbital or sodium pentobarbital solution administered by a certified euthanasia technician, a licensed veterinarian or a licensed veterinary technician." Further, "[e]uthanasia by intracardiac injection of sodium pentobarbital or sodium pentobarbital solution shall be performed only upon animals that are heavily sedated, anesthetized, or comatose" by a licensed veterinarian. Any other method of euthanasia other than what is specified by Section 3 is prohibited "except that euthanasia of an animal by gunshot is permissible as an emergency measure for an animal that is posing an imminent threat of serious physical injury to a person or to another animal . . . and where the use of a humane method of euthanasia prescribed in this section is rendered impossible or where a severely injured animal is suffering and cannot otherwise be aided."

Additionally, the new amendments required that 90 days after the effective date of the Act (October 9, 2010), any chamber that induced euthanasia by hypoxia from a lethal gas (e.g., a "gas chamber") must have been dismantled and removed from the premises. Finally, the amendments also made it a one year and/or $1,000 misdemeanor for any pound, shelter, SPCA, humane society, dog protective association, dog control officer, or peace officer to release any animal for any other purpose than redemption by its owner or adoption. This same penalty is also provided for any of the new euthanasia-related violations set forth in the amendments and is in addition to the civil penalties described in Sections 3b and 4b.



Exotic Pets

After concerns of captive reptiles being released in the Florida ecosystem as well as public safety issues, Florida amended Section 379.372 to prohibit the keeping, possessing, importation, selling, bartering, trading, or breeding of several species of large constrictor snakes and certain reptiles. Included in the ban are the following species:

  • Burmese or Indian python (Python molurus)
  • Reticulated python (Python reticulatus)
  • Northern African python (Python sebae)
  • Southern African python (Python natalensis)
  • Amethystine or scrub python (Morelia amethystinus)
  • Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus)
  • Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus)

Illinois added primates to its list of prohibited dangerous wild animals. Under Illinois' Dangerous Animal Act , no person may keep, harbor, care for, or maintain any dangerous animal or primate except at a properly maintained zoological park, federally licensed exhibit, circus, college or university, scientific institution, research laboratory, veterinary hospital, hound running area, or animal refuge in an escape-proof enclosure. The law does "grandfather in" certain possessors of primates if they comply with new registration requirements. In fact, ". . . a person who had lawful possession of a primate before January 1, 2011, [may continue] to possess that primate if the person registers the animal by providing written notification to the local animal control administrator on or before April 1, 2011."



Impoundment of Dogs and Cats

Utah amended a section of " Chapter 26. Experimental Animals ," which concerns the use of impounded animals by defined research institutions. A change in wording from "shall" to "may" seems to now give municipalities a decision in whether to make available "as many impounded animals in that establishment as the institution may request." Additionally, the holding period prior to making these animals available is now five days or the minimum period established by ordinance, whichever is longer. Further, reasonable efforts to locate the animals' owner must now also include checking if the animal has a microchip.


Livestock/Farm Animals

Nebraska enacted the Livestock Animal Welfare Act in July of 2010 (2010, LB 865, § 1, eff. July 15, 2010). This Act incorporated the repealed sections on equine and bovine tripping, and added other protections for livestock animals. In particular, the Act makes "A person who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly abandons or cruelly neglects a livestock animal is guilty of a Class I misdemeanor unless the abandonment or cruel neglect results in serious injury or illness or death of the livestock animal, in which case it is a Class IV felony." Further, "A person who cruelly mistreats a livestock animal is guilty of a Class I misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class IV felony for any subsequent offense." 



Microchipping Laws

In Georgia , "[w]hen any dog, cat, or other large animal traditionally kept as a household pet is brought to an animal shelter or other facility operated for the collection and care of stray, neglected, or abandoned animals, the operator of the facility shall, if the owner of the animal is not known, within 24 hours or as soon as possible scan for the presence of an identifying microchip through the use of a microchip reader." The operator must then make reasonable efforts to contact the owner of the animal. Additionally,  prior to euthanizing a dog, cat, or other large animal traditionally kept as a household pet, the covered facility must then again scan for the presence of an identifying microchip through the use of a microchip reader. However, it should be noted that shelters and facilities are not liable for failing to detect a microchip or failing to contact the owner of the animal. Moreover, shelter personnel are not required to scan any animal they deem to be too vicious or dangerous to permit safe handling. Georgia joins states such as Illinois ( 5/11 )New Hampshire ( 437:10 ) and South Carolina ( 47-3-55 ), which previously enacted laws that require shelters to maintain a microchip scanner on the premises and scan unclaimed or abandoned animals.

In 2008, Illinois amended its companion animal adoption law requiring that an animal shelter or animal control facility either sterilize and micropchip any dog or cat it adopts out unless the adopting owner has executed a written agreement agreeing to have sterilizing and microchipping procedures performed on the animal to be adopted within a specified period of time (not to exceed 30 days after the date of the adoption).

Utah also now requires municipal animal shelters to check for a microchip during the minimum holding period for impounded animals. This is part of the reasonable efforts to locate an animal's rightful  owner that must be conducted prior to making an animal available for research institutions.



Pet Trusts

Four states added pet trust laws from 2009 - 2010 to join the 44 states with such laws. These states include Connecticut (2009), Georgia (2010), Maryland (2009), and Oklahoma (2010). Under the typical language of the laws, a testamentary or inter vivos trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal or animals alive during the settlor's or testator's lifetime. The trust terminates when the last surviving animal named in the trust dies.




Virginia's new Section § 3.2-6562.1 requires local health directors in conjunction with local government, to make rabies action plans to control and respond to the risk of rabies exposure to persons and companion animals. Such plans must set forth procedures that promptly ensure the capture, confinement, isolation, or euthanasia of any animal that has exposed, or poses a risk of exposing, a person or companion animal to rabies.



Veterinary Codes

Oklahoma added the phrase " veterinary-client relationship " to the definitional section of the veterinary practice code. It is defined as when:

a. the licensed veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of an animal or animals and the need for medical treatment, and the client, owner or other caretaker has agreed to follow the instructions of the licensed veterinarian, and

b. there is sufficient knowledge of the animal or animals by the licensed veterinarian to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal or animals . . .

Oklahoma also added a provision for  non-veterinary equine dental care provider certification , also known as "teeth floaters," which defines the certification process and practice limitations of this field.



Wildlife Laws

Hawaii became the first state to outlaw the practice of shark finning (where a shark's fins are cut away and the animal is placed back in the water). Hawaii passed this law in 2010 prohibiting the sale, trade, or distribution of shark fins. Prior to July 1, 2011, any restaurant holding a valid certificate, permit, or license issued by the department of health may possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute shark fins possessed by that restaurant as of July 1, 2010 which are prepared for consumption. Any person violating this section or any rule adopted pursuant to this section incurs an administrative fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $15,000 for first offense. The fine then increases to $15,000 - $35,000 for a second offense, and $35,000 - 50,000 or imprisonment for up to 1 year, or both, for a third or subsequent offense.

Nebraska amended parts of Section 37-559 , "Destruction of predators; permit required; when; mountain lion; actions authorized." In particular, the legislature clarified the definition of "predator" that is preying on a farmer or rancher's stock or poultry to mean "badger, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, long-tailed weasel, mink, opossum, raccoon, red fox, or skunk." It also added a section that allows any farmer or rancher to kill a mountain lion immediately without prior notice to or permission from the commission if he or she encounters a mountain lion and the mountain lion is in the process of stalking, killing, or consuming livestock on the farmer's or rancher's property. Additionally, the ability to kill a mountain lion is extended to any person who is defending himself or herself or another person without penalty if, in the presence of such person, a mountain lion stalks, attacks, or shows unprovoked aggression toward such person or another person. 

Utah added a section that makes it a third-degree felony to habitually destroy protected wildlife. Under § 23-20-4.7, a person commits a third degree felony and is guilty of "habitual wanton destruction of protected wildlife" if the person takes a big game animal contrary to Section 23-20-4 and within seven years violates that section again.



Sec. 11.61.140 Cruelty to animals.



§ 45a-489a. Trust to provide for care of animal: Creation. Administration. Jurisdiction. Termination .



828.125 Killing or aggravated abuse of horses or cattle; offenses; penalties

379.372. Capturing, keeping, possessing, transporting, or exhibiting venomous reptiles, reptiles of concern, conditional reptiles, or prohibited reptiles; license required



§ 53-12-28. Trust for the care of an animal; creation; termination  

§ 4-11-5.2. Microchip identification scan



[§ 188-40.7]. Shark fins; prohibited



IL ST CH 720 § 585/0.1 to 4 (Dangerous Animals Act)



216C.11. Service dogs and assistive animals

Chapter 162. Care of Animals in Commercial Establishment s (I. C. A. § 162.1 - 20) (minor changes to existing language).



§ 102.24. Participation in cockfighting



§ 14-112. Trusts for care of animals



§ 37-559. Destruction of predators; permit required; when; mountain lion; actions authorized .

§   54-626. Terms, defined . (Commercial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Act)

§ 54-627. License requirements; fees; renewal . (Commercial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Act)

§ 54-901 - 912 - Livestock Animal Welfare Act .

§ 28-1005.01. Ownership or possession of animal fighting paraphernalia; penalty


New York:

§ 374. Humane destruction or other disposition of animals lost, strayed, homeless, abandoned or improperly confined or kept



§ 199. Validity of a trust for the care of domestic or pet animals .

§ 698.2. Definitions

§ 698.30. Non-veterinary equine dental care provider certification

Chapter 59. Commercial Pet Breeders Act (OK ST T. 59 § 5001 - 5029)


609.815. Ownership of dogs; ratio between dogs and onsite individuals



§ 23-20-4.7. Habitual wanton destruction of protected wildlife--Third degree felony

§ 26-26-3. Minimum period of impoundment--Efforts required to contact owner and to make animal available--Prerogative of person voluntarily providing animal

§ 3.2-6562.1. Rabies exposure; local authority and responsibility plan



§ 355. Interference with or cruelty to a guide dog



§ 54.1-3812.1. Reporting of animal cruelty



173.41. Regulation of persons who sell dogs or operate animal shelters


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