This article provides an overview of animal-related laws passed and/or amendment in 2009.
2009 had a fair number of both new animal-related laws as well as amendments to existing laws. The laws ranged from enhancements to cruelty provisions and animal fighting laws to greater protection for farm animals. While the majority of laws focused on companion animals (e.g., cats and dogs), there were a few provisions targeted to livestock and wildlife.
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.
Illinois added a section (section (b)) to Sec. 3.02. Aggravated cruelty that provides that no individual, except a licensed veterinarian, may knowingly or intentionally euthanize or authorize the euthanasia of a companion animal by use of carbon monoxide.
The state also added a cross-reporting law under its Humane Care for Animals Act ( 70/18. Cross-reporting) . This section provides that an animal control officer, Department investigator, or approved humane investigator who has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child is being abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused or neglected must immediately make a written or oral report to the Department of Children and Family Services. Any person acting in good faith in the making of a report or referral is immune from any liability, civil, criminal, or otherwise, resulting from such actions.
Louisiana amended its aggravated cruelty law ( § 102.1. Cruelty to animals; simple and aggravated ) by adding a section that states any person who intentionally or with criminal negligence mistreats any living animal by any act or omission that causes or permits unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain, suffering, or death to the animal is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals. Aggravated cruelty carries a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $25,000 or imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years, or both.
Nebraska added a provision ( 28-1020 ) that mandates the reporting of suspected abandonment, cruel neglect, or cruel mistreatment by an animal health care professional. However, the next section states that the law does not place a duty to investigate these observed or suspected incidents of cruelty. Any individuals who report cruelty under the statute are immune from liability except for false statements with malicious intent.
New York added a section to its cruelty code that prohibits the confinement of a companion animal in a motor vehicle in extreme heat or cold without proper ventilation or other protection from such extreme temperatures ( § 353-d. Confinement of companion animals in vehicles: extreme temperatures ). The confinement must place the companion animal in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury due to exposure to such extreme heat or cold. Under the law, where the operator of such a vehicle cannot be promptly located, a police officer, peace officer, or peace officer acting as an agent of a duly incorporated humane society may take necessary steps to remove the animal or animals from the vehicle. Any person who knowingly violates this law is guilty of a violation, punishable by a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $100 for a first offense, and a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $250 for a second and subsequent offenses.
The Oregon Legislature passed several amendments to its animal cruelty chapter. Among the most significant were the changes to the law prohibiting animal ownership by those convicted of animal cruelty offenses and the addition of a law on "encouraging animal abuse." In changing the law concerning future ownership of animals ( 167.332. Possession of domestic animals by violator ), the state made it a Class C misdemeanor for a person to possess an animal after being convicted of one of the listed animal cruelty sections. Further, when a person is convicted of possessing a domestic animal in violation of this section, the court may order the removal of domestic animals from the person's residence. A person commits the crime of encouraging animal abuse ( 167.350. Forfeiture of rights in mistreated animal; costs; penalty ) if the person obtains a previously abused, neglected or abandoned animal from an animal care agency and then knowingly allows the person from whom the animal was forfeited to possess the animal. In other words, the state made it a crime for a third party to adopt an animal from a rescue agency with the intent of giving it back to the abusive owner. Violation of this new law is a Class C misdemeanor.
Two states bolstered their existing animal fighting provisions. Massachusetts amended its animal fighting law by changing the penalty from $250 or by imprisonment for not more than one month, or both, to $1,000 or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 1/2 years, or by both such fine and imprisonment ( § 95. Aiding or being present at exhibition of fighting animals ).
In Nevada, the previous version of the animal fighting laws prohibited a person from instigating, promoting or in any way engaging in the furtherance of any fight between animals in an exhibition or for amusement or gain. The amendment to this law now also prohibits a person from owning, possessing, keeping, training, promoting or purchasing an animal with the intent to use it to fight another animal or from selling an animal knowing that it is intended to be used to fight another animal ( NV ST 574.070) . . If a person commits such a violation, he or she is guilty of a gross misdemeanor for a first offense, a category E felony for a second offense and a category D felony for a third or subsequent offense. Another amendment states that a person must now knowingly witness any fight between animals in an exhibition or for amusement or gain in order to be guilty of the spectating violation.
Hawaii enacted a progressive law that directly addresses the problem of companion animal hoarding. Under HI ST § 711-1109.6 , a person commits the offense of animal hoarding if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses more than fifteen dogs, cats, or a combination of dogs and cats and fails to provide necessary sustenance for each dog or cat, and then fails to correct the conditions under which the dogs or cats are living, where conditions injurious to the dogs', cats', or owner's health and well-being result from the person's failure to provide necessary sustenance. Violation of the new law is a misdemeanor.
Three states enacted new laws that either regulate commercial breeders or restrict dog breeding in general. Indiana enacted a set of laws targeted at commercial breeders ( Commercial Dog Breeder Regulation ). Under the new set of laws, which went into effect on January 1, 2010, a person who maintains more than twenty (20) unaltered female dogs that are at least twelve (12) months of age, must first register with the state. Failure to register is a Class A misdemeanor. The chapter sets forth minimum standards of care and requires that a breeder comply with federal standards of care set forth in 9 CFR 3.1 through 9 CFR 3.12. Enforcement of the chapter will fall to the Indiana state board of animal health, which may seek injunctive relief and impose civil penalties ranging from $500 - $5,000 for violations.
Tennessee also enacted a "Commercial Breeder Act." The act defines a commercial breeder as any person who possesses or maintains, under the person’s immediate control, twenty (20) or more unsterilized adult female dogs or cats in this state for the purpose of selling the offspring as companion animals. Commercial breeders must maintain and display licenses to operate in accordance with the act. Further, the act requires commercial breeders to keep on file at all times the number of dogs and cats in their possession and how many were sold during the reporting period. Inspections may occur under the act, but are not mandatory. Violations found after a reinspection can result in a civil penalty from $50 - 1,000. Under the Act, possession of more than 20 breeding animals when a violation of the act occurs results in a commercial breeder having to pay the municipal or state authority the costs for transporting, feeding, and caring for the animals maintained in violation of the act.
Washington also enacted a section that places limits on the number of intact dogs that an individual can own. Under WA ST 16.52.310. , a person may not own, possess, control, or otherwise have charge or custody of more than fifty dogs with intact sexual organs over the age of six months at any time. Additionally, the statute outlines basic minimum standards for a person who owns or possesses more than ten dogs with intact sexual organs over the age of six months and keeps the dogs in an enclosure for the majority of the day must at a minimum. For example, the dogs must be provided with enough space to allow each dog to turn about freely, to stand, sit, and lie down. The dogs over four months old must be exercised for at least one hour every day. The housing facilities must also be kept in sanitary conditions and must shelter the dogs from extreme temperature and weather conditions. The law also outlines how dogs must be grouped (e.g., dog with vicious or aggressive dispositions must be housed separately and puppies under twelve weeks may not be housed with other adult dogs except for their dams) and that dogs must be provided with access to clean food, water, and veterinary care when necessary. A person who violates the law is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. The law does not apply to animal shelters, charitable humane societies, veterinary facilities, or retail pet stores, among others.
Missouri joins the approximately 34 other states that proscribe strict liability for dog bites. The 2009 law ( MO ST 273.036) now makes the owner of any dog that bites, without provocation, any person while such person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner or possessor of the dog, strictly liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's or possessor's knowledge of such viciousness. Additionally, owners and possessors of dogs shall also be strictly liable for any damage to property or livestock proximately caused by their dogs. The new law also makes any person who is held liable under the provisions of subsection 1 of this section shall pay a fine not exceeding $1,000.
In addition to making the owner strictly liable in a civil arena, a dog owner now faces a class B misdemeanor if a dog that has previously bitten a person or a domestic animal without provocation bites any person on a subsequent occasion. This is then raised to a class A misdemeanor if the attack results in serious injury to any person. If there have been another previous serious injury to a person, the owner faces a class D felony ( 578.024. Subsequent dog bite without provocation--owner guilty of felony--appeal ). If the attack results in the death of any person, the owner or possessor shall be guilty of a class C felony. The law also allows seizure, impoundment, and euthanization of the dog where it has has previously caused serious injury.
In conjunction with that law, the legislature exempted certain dogs from liability. Any dog that is owned, or the service of which is employed, by a law enforcement agency and that bites another animal or human in the course of their official duties is exempt from the strict liability provisions ( 578.022. Dog biting in course of official law enforcement duties ).
Finally, in any action for damages or a criminal prosecution against any person for killing or injuring a dog, a showing by a preponderance of the evidence that such person was in reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful contact by the dog or was acting to prevent such imminent harmful contact against another person by the dog shall constitute an absolute defense to criminal prosecution or civil liability for the killing or injuring of such animal. The exception to this, of course, is where the person was engaging in criminal activity ( MO ST 273.033 ).
Kentucky made it a Class A misdemeanor under 258.212 for any person, other than the owner, to tamper with or remove without permission an identification tag, chip, locator, or electronic tracking device from a domesticated animal of any age, including but not limited to a hound or dog used in the sport of hunting. Exceptions include removal to prevent injury or treat an animal and removal by law enforcement officials for a legitimate purpose.
Missouri also made it a class A misdemeanor to remove an electronic or radio transmitting collar from a dog without the permission of the owner of the dog with the intent to prevent or hinder the owner from locating the dog ( MO ST 578.028 ). The violator will also be ordered to pay restitution for the actual value of any dog lost or killed as result of such removal, including possible breeding revenues.
North Carolina amended its law concerning the impoundment of dogs in an attempt to standardize local shelter procedures, assist owners in finding lost pets, and facilitate adoptions at overcrowded shelters ( § 130A-192 ). Under the amendments, if an animal control officer has access (at no or a reasonable cost) to scan the dog for a microchip, the officer may scan the animal to locate its owner. Significantly, the amendments provide that an impounded animal must be made available for adoption before it can be sold or put to death. The exception occurs where the animal is found by the operator of the shelter to be unadoptable due to injury or defects of health or temperament. An animal that is seriously ill or injured may be euthanized if the manager of the animal shelter determines, in writing, that it is appropriate to do so. This adoption provision does not, according to the new law, change the 72-hour holding period or affect the impoundment procedures put in place by local county commissioners.
Also changed under this law is the fact that owners who come a shelter looking for a lost pet may now view every animal held at the shelter (except where otherwise provided). The law also specifies the procedure for disposal of animals held after the 72-hour or longer mandatory holding period. Finally, if the animal shelter transfers physical possession of the animal (e.g., to a foster home), then the shelter must display at least one photograph that depicts the head and face of the animal in a conspicuous location that is available to the general public during hours of operation for the 72-hour or longer holding period.
Nevada joined the list of twelve or so states that prohibit dog tethering (except as provided by law). Under the new law ( 574.100) , a person shall not restrain a dog by u sing a tether, chain, tie, trolley or pulley system or other device that i s less than 12 feet in length (there are several listed exceptions under the law including, but not limited to, dogs that being boarded, dogs used for agricultural purposes, and when an owner is with the dog and only chains the dog for an hour). The system must allow the dog to move at least 12 feet or, if the device is a pulley system, to allow the dog to move a total of 12 feet. Also, it is prohibited to chain or tether the dog such that it can reach a fence or other object that may cause the dog to become injured or die by strangulation after jumping the fence or object. The law also prohibits u sing a prong, pinch or choke collar or similar restraint. No dog may be chained or tethered f or more than 14 hours during a 24-hour period. The law also provides that any pen or other outdoor enclosure that is used to maintain a dog must be appropriate for the size and breed of the dog.
Arizona passed a law that makes it a class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly or intentionally trip a horse, pony, mule, donkey or hinny for entertainment or sport ( § 13-2910.09 ). A first violation under the law incurs a sentence of not less than forty-eight consecutive hours in jail and a fine of not less than $1,000. The new law also has sentence enhancements for subsequent convictions. This section does not apply to any jumping or steeplechase events, racing, training, branding, show events, calf or steer roping events, bulldogging or steer wrestling events or any other traditional western rodeo events, including barrel racing, bareback or saddled bronc riding or other similar activities or events.
Florida added a section ( 773.06) to its equine activity liability act that now requires a child who is younger than 16 years of age to wear a helmet that meets the current applicable standards and that is properly fitted and fastened securely upon the child's head by a strap when the child is riding an equine upon public trails.
In addition to making illegal the use of carbon monoxide by anyone other than a licensed veterinarian to euthanize a companion animal, Illinois also added a section that specifies the procedures for its use ( Sec. 3.09) . The law states that the veterinarian must be physically present during the euthanasia process until death is confirmed, must document aspects of the process, including the species of the animal, and issue a statement that the use of compressed carbon monoxide is the most humane method of euthanasia for this companion animal.
Michigan became the 7th state to ban the use of veal crates (by 2012), and gestation crates and battery cages (by 2019) Michigan law (pdf 87.63 KB) . Maine also passed LB 1021 (effective 2011), which prohibits the cruel confinement of veal calves and sows during gestation ( § 4020. Cruel confinement of calves raised for veal and sows during gestation and § 1039. Cruel confinement of calves raised for veal and sows during gestation ). Under both sections (one occurring under the Animal Welfare Code and the other under the Cruelty to Animals chapter), a person may not tether or confine a covered animal for all or the majority of a day in a manner that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending the animal's limbs, and turning around freely. Violation is a Class D crime.
California amended § 597n of the Penal Code, prohibiting tail docking of horses, to now include cattle.
Illinois added two sections to its Animal Welfare Act - sections 605/3.3 and 605/3.4 . Under Section 3.3, an animal shelter or animal control facility shall not adopt out any dog or cat unless it has been sterilized and microchipped. However, an animal shelter or animal control facility may adopt out a dog or cat that has not been sterilized and microchipped if 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 (unless the animal is too sick to endure the procedure). An animal shelter or animal control facility may adopt out any dog or cat that is not free of disease, injury, or abnormality if the disease, injury, or abnormality is disclosed in writing to the adopter, and the animal shelter or animal control facility allows the adopter to return the animal to the animal shelter or animal control facility.
Nevada changed its law concerning the minimum age that a puppy can be sold by a retailer, dealer or operator ( 574.500. Separating dog or cat from mother ). Under the old law, A retailer, dealer or operator shall not separate a dog or cat from its mother until it is accustomed to taking food or nourishment other than by nursing. The 2009 amendment sought to better clarify that age requirement. The amended law states that a retailer or operator shall not separate a dog or cat from its mother until it is 8 weeks of age or accustomed to taking food or nourishment other than by nursing, whichever is later .
Indiana added a section that defines the term "service animal" to 16-32-3-1.5 “Service animal” defined . The term now includes an animal trained as: a hearing animal; a guide animal; an assistance animal; a seizure alert animal; a mobility animal; a psychiatric service animal; or an autism service animal.
North Dakota added a law ( § 25-13-06) to its chapter on blind and disabled persons concerning harm to service animals. Under the new law, a person is guilty of a class C felony and is subject to a civil penalty of up to ten thousand dollars if that person willfully and unjustifiably kills, shoots, tortures, torments, beats, kicks, strikes, mutilates, disables, or otherwise injures a service animal. Also, a person who willfully harasses, taunts, provokes, or interferes with a service animal is guilty of a class A misdemeanor and is subject to a civil penalty of up to five thousand dollars.
Florida, perhaps in the wake of well-publicized collisions of waterfowl and aircraft, enacted FL ST 379.2293. This law "declares that the ability of airports to manage wildlife hazards in a manner consistent with state and federal law is necessary to prevent jeopardy to human life or aircraft safety." Thus, the Legislature found that "actions taken by airports within the scope of authorizations to manage wildlife for such purposes not be subject to penalties, restrictions, liabilities, or sanctions and that such authorizations not be superseded by actions of other state or local agencies." Essentially, an airport is not liable civilly or administratively for harm to wildlife as long as the action is done in accordance with airport's wildlife hazard management plan, a depradation permit, a standing order of the USFWS, or a state agency permit.
Maine created a new section in its endangered species code ( ME ST T. 12 §12810). In recognition of the bald eagle's recovery and subsequent removal from the federal endangered species list, the state enacted a new law specific to this delisted species (though the law is written generally enough to cover any delisted species after 2007). Delisted species are protected under this new law such that a person may not import the animal, hunt, trap or possess it, or engage in any form of transportation or commerce of the animal. Violation is a Class D crime.
Montana added a section to its statute outlining the process for delisting the gray wolf. Under the added section ( MT ST 7-5-131) , "[a] ny wolf management plan approved by the department and the department of livestock must allow the issuance of special kill permits, also known as shoot-on-sight written take authorizations, by the department to landowners or public land permittees who have experienced livestock depredation. " [emphasis added]
Amendments by State