14 reasons to cheer for animal legislation in 2018
If you’re exhausted by politics, here’s some good news. The future is changing for homeless pets everywhere, and working with lawmakers is one way we’re getting closer to becoming a no-kill country.
So far this year, more than 96,000 animal lovers took action through Best Friends Animal Society's advocacy alerts by sending more than 200,000 messages to policymakers. Plus, our advocacy team tracked more than 1,200 bills affecting pets and the people who love them. California became the second state in the nation to pass a statewide no-kill resolution, with Los Angeles now on the verge of becoming a no-kill city. That’s a remarkable achievement that paves the way for other states to follow California’s lead.
There is so much to share from our busy advocacy team, but here are a few highlights that we’re especially excited about — 14 more examples of legislative progress for animals in 2018. There’s a lot to celebrate here that will surely inspire even more success next year.
- Delaware became the latest state to pass a law protecting community cats, their caregivers and the shelters helping them through return-to-field programs. This law was the product of a multiyear effort, led in part by the Best Friends legislative team.
- The city council in Urbana, Ohio, unanimously defeated a proposed feeding ban that would have endangered the lives of community cats.
- A dangerous proposal by the USDA to allow third-party inspections of puppy mills (which would have effectively given puppy mills the authority to police themselves) was defeated. A Best Friends advocacy alert on this issue generated more than 10,000 emails to the USDA in just 48 hours.
- Maryland passed a statewide bill banning pet stores from selling dogs and cats from commercial breeding mills.
- In 2018, Best Friends helped enact six local retail pet sales bans in New Jersey, which now has more of these municipal ordinances on the books than any other state. This type of ban prevents the sale of pets from commercial breeding mills. Together, we’re demonstrating that we can take a stand against puppy mills and make them a thing of the past.
- The state of Massachusetts passed PAWS II, which amends an archaic law mandating that victims of dogfighting rings be killed. The new law gives these dogs the second chance at life that they deserve. New Jersey is also considering its own version of this law: A bill that passed through the Senate with bipartisan support is on the way to saving the lives of dogfighting victims in the state.
- Michigan is getting closer to becoming the 22nd state to ban breed-discriminatory legislation. A bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support and is awaiting a hearing before the House.
- In Illinois, the governor signed the reckless dog owner bill, which provides due process protections for dog owners. It also prevents reckless dog owners from having dogs for a specified period of time, and it requires that dogs involved in incidents involving reckless owners be evaluated for possible placement with an animal welfare group or sanctuary.
- In Ohio, Mansfield, the communities of New Albany and Lakewood repealed breed-discriminatory dog ordinances that ban or restrict certain kinds of dogs based simply on their appearance. Thanks to this incredible momentum, animal lovers in these cities will be free to love and care for any breed of dog they choose. In other communities (such as Parma), local advocates have committed to repealing similar ordinances.
- The New Jersey Senate unanimously passed a bill that will prevent dogfighting victims from being automatically declared dangerous and it awaits a hearing before the state assembly. If the bill is passed, dogs forced into a life of violence will be given the second chance at life that they deserve.
- Illinois passed an important bill aimed at increasing the number of lives saved in animal shelters. This new law allows animal control facilities to transfer animals between facilities and to foster homes. It also requires shelters to contact owners (or microchip purchasers) of animals entering their facility, which will help to reunite families with their pets.
- In California, the governor signed AB 2791, which allows animal shelters to immediately release kittens and puppies under eight weeks of age to animal welfare groups, rather than waiting through a 72-hour “stray hold” period. This important piece of legislation will help ensure that some of the most vulnerable dogs and cats in California’s shelters go on to live healthy, happy lives.
- Illinois passed a new law that allows counties to keep and use all pet population funds (instead of sending some of the money to the state). The law also helps fund spay/neuter programs through the University of Illinois shelter medicine program. It will help increase spay/neuter for community cats throughout the state, as well as increase the impact of the shelter medicine program at the University of Illinois.
- Best Friends helped to pass lifesaving legislation to reform the New Jersey SPCA. This legislation has brought much-needed uniformity and accountability to the way New Jersey’s animal cruelty laws are enforced.
Each legislative achievement is helping us get closer to making the entire country no-kill by 2025. The support and love voiced by many no-kill supporters is making it possible Each person’s voice, support and love makes it possible for us to take these historic steps forward for animals. Together, we’re saving lives. Together, we can Save Them All.
Photos by Sarah Ause Kichas and Stacey Axelrod