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2013 Legislative Session Summary

Animal Shelters and Animal Control Agencies
SB 674 by Senator Montford; HB 997 by Representative Cummings
See also HB 871 by Representative Patronis (withdrawn)
SB 674 requires all public or private animal shelters and animal control agencies to compile and maintain records concerning the dogs and cats the facility takes in and the disposition of those animals. The bill authorizes a facility to charge a fee for requested records pursuant to the provisions in Chapter 119, Florida Statutes. FACA participated in a number of stakeholder meetings designed to improve the bill language and helped to significantly redraft the legislation so that it would not have unintended consequences or adversely affect animal control agencies. There was an attempt to amend this bill with language for Miami-Dade County, but this attempt was unsuccessful. In Week 7, the Senate laid HB 997 on the table, passed SB 674, and sent it to the Governor for final action. The Governor signed SB 674 in Week 8.


HB 839 by Representative Moskowitz; SB 872 by Senator Abruzzo
HB 839 did not receive a hearing. SB 872 died in its second of three committees. SB 872 would have created the “Transparency in Animal Shelter Act.” It would have required animal shelters and animal control agencies that euthanize dogs and cats to prepare and maintain monthly and annual statistical records that make public: 1) the total number of dogs and cats taken in by the facility, by category, and 2) the disposition of the dogs and cats that leave the facility, by category. These reports would have been required to be made available to the public no later than five business days after the end of each calendar month.

The bill would have required each facility to post the required statistics online on the animal shelter, county, municipality, or other governmental website that controls the animal shelter within five business days after the first day of each month. The director of the facility would have been required to sign each report indicating that the report is true and accurate to the best of his or her knowledge.

OTHER BILLS

Animal Cruelty and Dyeing Animals
SB 504 by Senator Brandes; HB 851 by Representative Moskowitz
Section 828.12(1) and (2), F.S., provide the following:
(1) A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.
(2) A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, is guilty of a third degree felony or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

These bills designate a violation of s. 828.12(1), F.S., as “animal cruelty,” and a violation of s. 828.12(2), F.S., as “aggravated animal cruelty,” and clarify that aggravated animal cruelty can result from a person’s failure to act. The bills add a provision specifying that a person who commits multiple acts of animal cruelty or aggravated animal cruelty against one animal may be charged with a separate offense for each act. Similarly, the bills provide that a person who commits animal cruelty or aggravated animal cruelty against more than one animal may be charged with a separate offense for each animal such cruelty was committed upon.

The bills create s. 828.1615, F.S., making it a second degree misdemeanor for a person to: dye or artificially color animals under 12 weeks of age, or fowl or rabbits of any age; bring dyed or artificially colored animals under 12 weeks of age, or fowl or rabbits of any age, into the state; or sell, offer for sale, or give away as merchandising premiums baby chickens, ducklings, or other fowl under 4 weeks of age or rabbits under 2 months of age to be used as pets, toys, or retail premiums.

The first two prohibitions listed above do not apply to animals that are temporarily dyed by agricultural entities for protective health purposes.

The bills also amend the definition of “racketeering activity” to include violations of s. 828.122, F.S., relating to animal fighting and baiting.

The Senate laid SB 504 on the table last week and passed HB 851, which now goes to the Governor for final action. The bill was amended on the floor to allow Miami-Dade County to use its training funds for certain operational purposes for a one-year period.

Dyeing Animals
SB 650 by Senator Sachs; No House companion
SB 650 prohibits a person, firm, or corporation from selling, bartering or giving away animals such as rabbits, baby chickens, and ducklings that have been artificially colored or dyed. It also prohibits the sale, offer for sale, or giving away of these animals if the animal is under a specified age. The prohibition does not apply to animals that are to be used or raised for agricultural purposes or for poultry or livestock exhibitions. It also does not apply to agricultural entities that use artificial dyes on animals for protective health purposes. Persons who violate the provisions of this act would be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree. It passed the Senate in Week 8 but died in House messages because there was no companion bill.

Commercial Breeding of Animals
HB 417 by Representative Powell; SB 1596 by Senator Soto
These bills would regulate the commercial breeding of animals under the Division of Business and Professional Regulation. They would require breeders to comply with certain federal animal welfare standards. Among other provisions, the bills would require every commercial breeder to register with DBPR and be subject to annual inspections. Neither bill received a hearing.


Service Animals
HB 1073 by Representative Rangel; No Senate Companion
This bill creates the “Dawson and David Caras Act” and provides rights for an individual accompanied by a service animal. It provides regulations for individual owners and trainers. The bill did not receive a hearing.

Community Cats
HB 1121 by Representative Raschein; SB 1320 by Senator Soto
SB 1320 did not receive a hearing. HB 1121 died in its second of three committees. HB 1121 would have amended current law to provide definitions for “community cat,” “community cat caregiver,” and, “community cat program.” “Community cat” means an outdoor, free-roaming cat that lacks visible owner identification. “Community cat caregiver” means any person other than an owner or custodian who provides food, water, or shelter to one or more community cats as part of a community cat program. “Community cat program” means a program in which an eligible cat is examined by a licensed veterinarian, sterilized, vaccinated for rabies and any other diseases deemed appropriate by the veterinarian, ear-tipped, and then returned to the area where it was originally captured immediately after any recovery period as recommended by a veterinarian.

The bill specifically provided that community cats are considered a domestic animal and the release of a community cat by a community cat program would not constitute abandonment or unlawful release of the cat. The bill also provided that a county or municipality would not be precluded from enacting an ordinance related to community cat programs designed to humanely curtail community cat population growth.

Pet Services and Welfare Programs (Pets’ Trust)
HB 1127 by Representative Artiles; SB 1738 by Senator Margolis
These bills would have authorized counties to create, by ordinance, an independent special district to provide funding for pet services and welfare programs. Authorized use of these funds would have included:
• spay and neuter programs;
• improvement of animal care;
• providing veterinary medical care for animals with low-income owners;
• pet education;
• surrender prevention;
• adoption programs; and
• prevention of animal cruelty.

The bills would have required a county governing body to obtain approval from the majority of county electors in order to levy ad valorem taxes to fund the district. The bills also provided for the membership of such a district’s governing board, its powers and duties, district financial requirements, and dissolution procedures. HB 1127 was discussed by its first committee of reference but did not receive a vote and died in that committee. SB 1738 died in its second of four committees.

Sales of Dogs and Cats
HB 1257 by Representative Moskowitz; SB 1614 by Senator Sobel
These bills would have required a certificate of veterinary inspection for a dog or cat to be offered for sale within Florida. Neither bill received a hearing.