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States ramping up action on pet legislation

To keep you informed on pet-related laws being considered or enacted across the US, we have provided a few summaries. This edition discusses new pet legislation occurring in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan and California, in conjunction with new Federal regulations and agency support.

Pennsylvania: Boston Terrier’s Story Sparks Stronger Animal Abuse Laws

Surrounded by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, Governor Tom Wolf and Libre—the Boston Terrier who is the law’s namesake—signed HB 1238 in June. Referred to as “Libre’s Law,” it makes animal abuse a felony if it leads to serious bodily injury. The new law also bans the tethering of animals outside during bad weather; protects vets and animal control officers from frivolous lawsuits related to reporting of animal abuse; and requires those convicted of animal abuse to relinquish custody of their pets. Libre was found in critical condition on a farm in Lancaster County, PA last year. Thousands of people joined on social media to call for a strengthening of PA laws—a campaign that reached the Governor’s office. Libre’s paw was inked and pressed against the bill just below the Governor’s signature—a first in PA legislative history.

North Carolina: Federal Agencies Join State Efforts To Curb Animal Fighting

In June, animal fighting investigations training was produced at the National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in Raleigh. Sponsored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the US Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section, and the US Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General, the event was attended by over 100 federal and state regulators, criminal investigators and prosecutors from across the country. The Federal government is taking a more active role in animal criminal statutes, and several Federal agencies are taking a role in these efforts, in coordination with state and local law enforcement agencies. The entire nation is taking up the cause for dog and cat health and safety.

Connecticut: Increased Regulations For Animal Importers And Shelters Step In Right Direction

This past June, in the 2017 Legislative session, the Connecticut State House revamped the current laws concerning animal care, adding language to Section 22-344 of the general statutes. The language specifically includes a subsection addressing registration of animal shelters, to be regulated under the CT Department of Agriculture. Registration, not licensing, will now be required of animal importers and shelters upon registration and approval by the state's agriculture Commissioner. This new language does leave some gray area in the law; however, it is a step in the right direction. 

Michigan: Website Informs Public On Laws Concerning Pets Left In Vehicles

The College of Law at Michigan State University has created an up-to-date summary of state laws that address the legality of leaving animals in parked vehicles. As anyone who loves pets knows, it is unwise (at best) to leave a pet unattended in a locked and parked vehicle—especially during the warmer summer months, when leaving a pet in a hot car poses a danger to their health. Although more states are prohibiting this behavior, only half the states have enacted laws concerning animals left in vehicles (including protections for rescuers). For a primer on these laws and their impact pets, owners, caretakers, and rescuers, visit

California: ALDF Rated A 4-Star Charity For Third Year In A Row

For a 3rd consecutive year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has been rated a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator, an independent, non-profit review organization. Charity Navigator helps donors “make informed giving decisions and enabling well-run charities to demonstrate their commitment to proper stewardship.” ALDF is a platinum member of Guidestar, a separate charity evaluation firm, which has rated over 2.5 million charities. They are also listed as a "Best in America" charity by Independent Charities of America, a status less than 5% of American charities enjoy.

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

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