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In 2018 animal welfare advocates worked very hard to pass Senate Bill 569  a comprehensive animal cruelty bill that rolled many of the animal welfare initiatives into one bill.

Senate Bill 569, which overwhelmingly passed the NH Senate and was supported by all New Hampshire animal shelters, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, the Governor’s Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals, the Animal Control Officers Association Of New Hampshire, and the New Hampshire Municipal Association, would have gone a long way to protect dogs from unscrupulous breeders, and taxpayers from having to pay the financial cost of animal abuse.

Senator Bradley, Senate Committee of Conference members and Governor Sununu fought hard for the bill but, in the end, the House, under the leadership of the Environment & Agriculture Committee, decided to study the matter rather than prevent unregulated breeders from flocking to our state because of ineffective laws. Even worse, their proposal would have weakened existing laws by creating even more loopholes in the definition of a commercial dog kennel and prohibiting anonymous complaints of animal cruelty. Senate members did the right thing by refusing to allow language that would have caused even more problems in addressing animal cruelty. 

The 36 German Shepherds that have been in protective custody at the New Hampshire SPCA for over a year now would be living in forever homes if the current laws were clearer.  This year’s proposed legislation works to improve the fate of them and others across the state.  

This year, the issues are addressed separately and there is much broader support.  

Support: An Act Relative to a Pet Vendor

Over the past two and a half years, there have been five large scale animal cruelty cases involving unlicensed breeders and dozens of other cases in which animals were neglected in NH.
Senate Bill 77-FN: Relative to costs of care for animals seized in cruelty cases and prohibiting the future ownership of animals in certain animal cruelty cases, sponsored by Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), will 1) setup a preliminary hearing within 14 days of the legal seizure of animals to allow a conversation about the long-term care and housing of animals held as evidence, 2) clarify the existing law which allows a Judge to order a convicted defendant to pay a bond of up to $2,000/animal in order to retain ownership of the animals through an appeal process, ensuring that animals are not stuck in limbo when owners have not posted the bond within 14 days, and 3) strengthen NH’s existing laws preventing convicted abusers from having, or interacting regularly with, animals.

Support Senate Bill 161: Relative to the definition of a pet vendor, also sponsored by Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), will create a fair regulatory process in which animal shelters, rescue organizations (including home-based rescues), pet stores, and breeders are all held to the same animal care standards if they transfer 20 or more cats and dogs in a 12 month period, ensuring appropriate oversight of animal care and disease prevention.

Both bills will go a long way to preventing the horrific cruelty we’ve seen in the Granite State. We hope that we can count on you to raise your voice for the animals at the State House this year.

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