Florida State SealThe best way to show legislators that animal protection is an important issue is for animal advocates to communicate with their elected officials.

Legislators do care what constituents (voters) think about issues. After all, elected officials generally want to be re-elected, and that means adequately addressing matters important to their constituents.

Please contact your state senator and state representative, let them know you are a constituent and ask that they support the following bills.

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The 2014 Legislative Session is March 4 through May 2.

 
   
 
  SB 742 and HB 933 — Greyhound Racing Injuries
Senate Bill 742, introduced by Senator Eleanor Sobel, and House Bill 933, introduced by Representative Jared Moskowitz, would require Florida's Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering to maintain records of greyhounds injured while racing. Most states that have dog tracks require that racing injuries be publicly reported. Only Florida and Alabama do not. SB 742/HB 933 would increase transparency about the greyhound racing industry. In addition, the legislation would save greyhound lives. According to the greyhound protection organization GREY2K USA, in states where injury reporting laws have been approved the number of greyhounds euthanized has significantly declined.

Status: On April 8, SB 742 was approved by the Committee on Gaming. The bill is now before the Committee on Appropriations. HB 933 has been referred to the Select Committee on Gaming.

ARFF strongly supports this legislation that would provide Floridians with important information about a state-regulated industry.

 
 

Greyhound decoupling
ARFF is hopeful that 2014 will be the year that legislation will pass to remove the requirement that dog tracks conduct live racing in order to also offer slots or poker. If passed, dog tracks in Florida would almost certainly choose to reduce or end live racing to focus on more profitable forms of gambling. There is wide support for "decoupling" among the operators of dog tracks in Florida and among Floridians concerned about the welfare of racing greyhounds.

Status: Decoupling will likely be considered as part of a larger gambling bill, not as a separate measure. Please contact your state legislators and urge them to support the decoupling of greyhound racing from other forms of gambling. This is especially important if your state senator is a member of the Senate Committee on Gaming or if your state representative is a member of the House Select Committee on Gaming.

 
 

SB 1624 and HB 1377 — Sale of Dogs or Cats
Senate Bill 1624, introduced by Senator Eleanor Sobel, and HB 1377, introduced by Representative Jared Moskowitz, would strengthen protections for dogs and cats offered for sale in Florida, and would also protect consumers. The legislation would require that the name, address and USDA license number of the breeder of the animal be displayed next to the animal for sale at retail pet stores, in print advertisements or on the webpage on which the dog or cat appears for sale. The legislation would also prohibit the sale of dogs and cats at flea markets and other open air markets.

Status: On April 10, SB 1624 was approved by the Committee on Regulated Industries with a unanimous vote; the bill is now before the Committee on Community Affairs. HB 1377 has been referred to the Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee.

ARFF frequently receives complaints about the sale of dogs, cats and other animals at flea markets, both from people who have purchased an animal (consumers often end up with an animal who is sick) and from people concerned about miserable conditions that they've witnessed. Dogs and cats sold at flea markets are usually from unlicensed and unregulated backyard breeders. Animals are often sold without proper vaccinations. To address similar problems, in 2013 California and Nevada passed laws restricting the sale of dogs and cats at flea markets. It's time for Florida to do the same! (photo: puppy for sale at the Swap Shop flea market in Lauderhill)

 
 

SB 540 and HB 449 — Sharks
Senate Bill 540, introduced by Senator David Simmons, and House Bill 449, introduced by Representative Mike Clelland, would increase penalties for violations of shark finning rules.

"Finning," removing a shark's fins and dumping the injured fish back into the ocean, is banned in Florida waters. The killing of sharks for fins is cruel and threatens some shark species with extinction.

Status: On April 2, SB 540 was reported favorably out of the Committee on Rules; it had previously been approved by the Committee on Criminal Justice and the Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation. The bill is now ready for a vote by the full Florida Senate. HB 449 has been referred to the Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee.

 
 

SB 1504 and HB 637 — Animal Cruelty
Senate Bill 1504, introduced by Senator Joseph Abruzzo, and House Bill 637, introduced by Representative Travis Hutson, would significantly increase penalties for animal cruelty. For example, in cases of aggravated animal abuse, the penalty would become a mandatory minimum prison term of 30 months. The legislation would also add state attorneys to the list of entities with the authority to petition a court to seek relief for animals cruelly treated or neglected.

Status: SB 1504 has been referred to the Committee on Criminal Justice. HB 637 has been referred to the Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee.

ARFF supports strengthening laws against animal cruelty, neglect and abuse.

 
 

SB 1574 and HB 1305 — Commercial Breeding and Selling of Animals
Senate Bill 1574, introduced by Senator Dwight Bullard, and House Bill 1305, introduced by Representative Barbara Watson, would require registration and annual inspection of commercial dog or cat breeders and dealers in Florida ("commercial breeder" would be defined as anyone who sells 16 or more animals during any 12-month period). Breeders and dealers would be required to meet the standards of animal care and treatment established by the federal Animal Welfare Act. In order to enforce the requirements, retail pet stores would be required to provide the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation with a list of commercial breeders and dealers from which the store purchases animals.

Status: SB 1574 has been referred to the Committee on Regulated Industries. HB 1305 has been referred to the Business & Professional Regulation Subcommittee.

   
 

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