New laws for animal protection

With the new year comes some new laws and statutes for animal protection. Some are practical, others sound a bit goofy but are clearly needed.

It might seem self evident that getting close enough to lions, tigers, and other big cats to take a selfie is a bad idea. Self-portraits with this type of animals have still become more and more popular online, and starting February 2015 it will be illegal to pose for this type of photo in New York. The new rule specifically prohibits contact between members of the public and big cats at animal shows.

New York is one of over 20 states with a ban on private citizens owning exotic animals, but all over the country it is believed that more exotic pets live in American homes than in American zoos. Seven states have no requirement of a license or permit to keep exotic animals. In these states you might need a license to own a dog, but you can buy a lion without thinking twice about it.

Naturally, many who own exotic pets are responsible and give the pets great care, others are less careful. There is no firm definition of the term exotic pet – in some states it refers to any wildlife kept in a human household, or to a pet that’s more unusual than a dog or cat.

In 2015, New York also makes it illegal to tattoo and pierce pets. This law allegedly came about a after a woman attempted to sell gothic kittens with piercings, and a man tattooed his dog. The only exception is markings done by a veterinarian for a medial reason or identifications.

On the other side of the USA, California takes a stand for farm animals. A new law requires that egg-laying hens, breeding sows, and veal calves have enough space to move around. It is no longer allowed to keep them in cramped cages. California also has a law that extends the space requirements for egg-laying hens for out of state suppliers.

Nearly half of states have laws saving pets from abusive relationships

Nearly half of the US states have laws saving pets from abusive relationships in cases of domestic violence. The laws allow courts to order the protection of pets using the same statutes that protect the pet’s owner with restraining orders and similar.

That means that if a dog’s owner is the victim of domestic violence and gets an order of protection against the abuser, the pet is safeguarded under the same order.

Many pets get stuck in the middle of abusive relationships where the abuser use their victims’ dogs and cats as pawns – often killing them in the process. 70 percent of victims of domestic violence report that their abusive partner has threatened to hurt or kill a pet.

Some women’s shelters in the USA allow women to bring pets when fleeing an abusive situation, but many cannot offer this service, and nearly 50 percent of women in an abusive relationship  stay to protect their pet.

Without these laws, the abuser can keep the pet or try to take it. The abuser can also try to get visitation rights. With the law, pets can be placed in safe foster homes until their owner gets settled.

New Oregon Law is a Win for Animals

Late August the Oregon Supreme Court passed a ruling that changes how animals are treated under state law. Now, any animal can be seen as a legal victim in a case, and this gives animals more protection against abuse. 

For a pet lover, it’s evident that each pet is an individual. Up until now, the law has seen them as property. The new ruling means, for instance, that if a person abuses 20 animals he or she can now be sentenced on 20 counts instead of just one – each individual animal is a separate victim. This can, in turn, result in longer sentences and make it more difficult for abusers to expunge these convictions from criminal records.

The ruling also makes it easier for law enforcement to help animals in danger – if an animal is “property” an officer would need a warrant to step onto private property and for instance take the animal to a veterinarian. Getting a warrant can take four to eight hours, and that is enough time for an abused animal to die.

2014 has seen some great steps in the right direction for animal rights. Hopefully, the trend will continue until they are all protected.


Service dogs have access

Service dogs have access to all places open to the public. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, they are not required to wear a special vest or collar, even though many choose to give service dogs special vests.

Keeping this in mind, it’s not a big surprise that a Walgreens store in North Texas recently made the news when the manager kicked out a war veteran and his service dog. The war veteran showed the dog’s special tag and ID card, but the manager still didn’t accept their presence.

A business can ask if a dog is a service dog and what it is trained to do.

A business cannot ask a service dog and/or owner to leave as long as the dog is behaving.

Many  people depend on dogs trained to do everything from retrieving objects to detecting upcoming seizures, and these dogs make important contribution to their humans’ lives.

If you see a service dog, do not approach, try to pet it, insist that your children get to pet it, or talk to it. The dog is working and doesn’t need distractions.

For more information on service dogs, check out these posts:
Different types of assistance dogs
What is a therapy dog
What is an emotional support dog

New bill will protect Philadelphia’s pets

Don't leave your pets outside on hot daysA new bill is close to changing lives for many Philadelphia dogs and cats. It will soon be illegal to leave animals outside in extreme weather, and disobedient owners will face fines.

Dogs have less ability to handle heat and cold than humans do, but many dog owners still believe it’s okay to leave their pooch outside in scorching heat or freezing cold. The bill is intended to give legal protection, but also to raise awareness amongst pet owners.

When the bill passes it will be illegal to leave a pet outside in temperatures exceeding 85 F, in temperatures below 32 F, or in sleet, snow or wind that can threaten the safety and health of an animal. It is still allowed to take animals outside for brief walks and exercise, but dogs cannot be left in doghouses.

Many believe a dog house offers protection from the element, but in cold days, the inside of a dog house might be even colder than the surrounding world, and in hot days, the dog house can serve as an oven.

A dog door can be an elegant solution to the problem of being away long hours at work, allowing the pet to go in and out as required. Many worry about drafts and snow entering the house in winter, and losing air conditioning in summer, but modern pet doors such as the PlexiDor dog doors and cat door insulate very well.

Pets gaining legal status in France

France has the biggest pet dog population in Europe with nearly 9 million dogs. Up until now, the country’s legal system has shared the view on pets held by many other countries including the USA; they are considered furniture that moves.

Most pet lovers would disagree with the description. It is apparent that pets have feelings, and they’re not furniture. Now a petition with 700,000 signatures has inspired a change in the French legal system, giving cats and dogs better legal protection from animal cruelty. The new ruling is also expected to help courts decide custody battles with pets involved.

The new legal status describes pets as “living beings capable of feelings.” This new stance might also have an impact on the treatment of other types of animals. Taken to the next level, it might affect animal testing and other areas.

Farm Bill to protect animals from fighting schemes

Few things enrages animal lovers as much as dog fights and the events around them. Authorities agree with the public opinion – animal fighting should be stopped – but it has been difficult to do anything about it. It happens that arrangers of dog fighting have been caught and convicted, but up until now this has been an exception.

It has been illegal to host dog fights, cock fights, or any other cruel pitting of beast against beast in the USA. Problem was that the arrangers would slip into the crowd and disappear at first sign of a raid.

Is is now illegal to even attend an event like this.

The new law is a part of the Farm Bill, recently signed by President Obama. It is now a federal crime to attend and/or bring a child to any animal fighting event.

Spectator admission fees and gambling dollars have financed these spectacles of unnecessary violence, but if the profit disappears the incentive to host fighting events will disappear as well. Hopefully, this will lead to a decrease in dog and cock fighting events as well as a decrease of pets being stolen for use as bait dogs.