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Across the nation state pet laws are evolving

To keep you informed on pet-related laws being considered or enacted across the US, we have provided a few summaries. This edition of Pet Legal Briefs discusses new pet legislation concerning pet exposure to the elements, pet industry regulations and animal surrenders occurring in New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Florida and Connecticut.

New Jersey: Exposing Pets To Extreme And Inclement Weather Punishable

Governor Cuomo recently signed a bill to improve New Jersey’s animal cruelty laws, guided by Senator Jeff Van Drew. The bill, S-1640, makes it a crime to leave pets outdoors and exposed to excessively hot or cold temperatures and without proper shelter (required when outside temperatures are extreme—32 degrees or less, or 90 degrees or more). Also, pets cannot be tied up outside during snow, sleet, hail, or when they are exposed to sunlight without shade or shelter for prolonged periods. Leaving a pet without water, overnight tethering or a tether shorter than 15 ft. long, or using a choke collar to tether a pet are all punishable under the new law. Fines vary based on severity: $100 (for the first offense) and $200 (for the 2nd offense) for smaller offenses, and $500-$2000 when "failure to provide necessary care" determination is made.

New York: Pet Protections Focus Of Closing Pet Industry Loopholes

New York State Senator Phil Boyle just succeeded in closing a loophole which allowed pet shelters and non-profits to avoid state oversight. With Governor Cuomo signing his bill (S5599) into law, these organizations will now be required to register with the State of New York. A huge decline in pet dealer licensing applications was a red flag for legislators who support pet protection, and this new law will provide the public with much-needed transparency regarding the pet industry and its many players. The ASPCA, New York State Animal Protection Foundation, and the New York State Veterinary Medical Society all supported the passage of this critical legislation.

Florida: Miami Puts Heat On Pet Stores To Sell Shelter Pets

The Miami City Commission voted to ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores citywide. Such stores are now required to acquire pets through shelters and rescue organization, which will contribute much towards shutting down the commercial breeding industry in the city. After a Dade County law was enacted in 2014 requiring pet stores to maintain a paper trail on the pets they offer at sale, an investigation made by the Humane Society of the US found that many of the city's licensed pet stores continued to purchase animals from questionable sources.

Connecticut: Non-Profit Shelters Required To Follow State Regulations

Governor Malloy signed HB 6334 into law on July 7, 2017, requiring all nonprofit animal shelters to register with the Commissioner of Agriculture and follow state regulations concerning the humane care of dogs and cats, after paying a $50 fee. Before registration is approved, a zoning enforcement officer must inspect the facility to ensure compliance with city regulations. Once certified, the animal shelter will be duly registered to operate in Connecticut.

Illinois: City Pet Shelters Not Accepting Non-Resident Animal Surrenders

If you are a Chicago resident, you can surrender animals to the city. As of June 1, 2017, non-residents will no longer be allowed to surrender animals to city pet shelters: They will be advised to locate a shelter in the town or suburb in which they reside. Also, the City's Animal Control and Rescue staff will not respond to any calls originating from outside the city limits.

Cruisin' Canines has published a list of leash laws, which should prove helpful to Chicago dog owners, dog walkers, and ordinary pedestrians. Many people are unaware of the complicated and lengthy list of “do's and don’ts the city has established, in part for pets and pet owner's safety, and for the general safety and health of the city's dog parks and other public spaces.

David Chambers is a retired paralegal living in Chicago with his partner, Stephanie, and two fluffy cats, Jasper and Joy

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