All right, the title is lame, but you get what you pay for. Sen. Doriot has introduced SB 18 and Sen. Alting has introduced SB 68. Sen. Doriot’s bill prohibits local government from imposing bans or similar restrictions that are focused on a specific breed of dog.I’m generally supportive of this, I think. I’m not one to generally embrace state restrictions on local government, but I think the breed-specific prohibitions end up being a little arbitrary. This is typically directed at pitbulls who can be very sweet dogs. I don’t think the problem is with the breed so much as with the people who seek out the breed and treat them in a way calculated to make them mean and destructive. Ideally, you’d go after the people abusing the dogs.
Meanwhile, Sen. Alting’s bill would require animal shelters to make reasonable efforts to contact owners before destroying dogs or cats. It suggests time frames and measures that would be considered reasonable. The “shall” language is that “An animal care facility shall adopt written policies and procedures to ensure that the animal care facility makes a reasonable effort to quickly and reliably return a lost or stray companion animal to an owner.” Some of the “may” language in the bill focuses on checking for microchips, checking reports of lost animals it has received, making efforts to notify the owners within 48 hours, posting notices on the shelter’s website, having available hours on weekends and/or weeknights, and double checking before euthanizing the animal.
Sen. Alting’s bill reminds me of a tragic incident I’d been told about my Aunt and Uncle’s cat, “Chester.” At some point Chester got lost or — there may have been allegations of him being turned over to the shelter by a neighbor who didn’t like Chester in his yard. The way I heard the story, they found the correct shelter just as Chester had been given the euthanasia but before he was dead. (In retrospect, I wonder if I heard this correctly — I’ve had to put several dogs down over the years, and once the chemicals are injected, the death takes place incredibly quickly.) So, obviously a very tragic story. On the other hand, I work a bit with one of our local shelters. It’s a no-kill place, so euthanasia hasn’t been an issue. But, it’s clear that some animal owners are incredibly bad pet owners. And they don’t answer their phone, they promise to show up then don’t, and otherwise end up being indifferent and difficult to contact. None of this makes Sen. Alting’s bill bad, but hopefully shelters can implement reasonable efforts without being unduly burdened by irresponsible pet owners.