The lives of municipal shelter animals would improve under a bill pending in the House, while another bill could make life worse for those who are cruel to animals.
The two bipartisan bills proposed and crafted by state Reps. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven and Craig Fishbein, R- Middlefield, gained approval in their respective committees and will likely be voted on in the next few of weeks.
Borer said she and Fishbein have worked on the legislation for two years. They will hold a press conference on the bills Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the grounds south of the Capitol.
“I’m excited to get these bills over the finish line,” Borer said. “We want to make sure we take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.”
The shelter bill is about updating the regulations for municipal shelters for the first time since 1963.
Last year the regulations were updated for private shelters, but it took more than four years for changes to come to fruition.
Borer said that to bypass the lengthy process, this time they want to pass a law that would require municipal animal shelter operations to comport with the state-mandated regulations for private shelters.
Under the proposal, for example, temperatures inside shelters wouldn’t be allowed to exceed 80 degrees.
The law would also address issues such as unsanitary conditions, separating animals that are incompatible and strengthening the reporting of violations.
The bill says, in part, if there’s a complaint the Department of Agriculture investigates, they have to have a report within five days and within 30 days the report must be given to the chief elected official of the municipality.
The idea of that is for “transparency,” Borer said, “So no one can say, ‘I didn’t know.”‘
Not only is the issue about the “humane treatment” of animals, but also about taxpayers knowing where their money is going, she said.
The second bill to be considered is one that targets animal abusers.
The bill requires mandatory reporting by veterinarians for suspicion of dog fighting. Borer said some vets are fearful of reporting because of the type of people connected with dog fighting. The reporting can be done anonymously, Borer said.
Another part of the law would create “a better definition of bestiality – or sexual contact with animals – in order to increase the ability to hold people accountable.
The goal is also to “weaken the dark web,” Borer said.
According to the World Animal Foundation, the United States is “ranked 31 in the world for the toughest animal cruelty laws. Yet 10 million animals die from abuse every year in the US.” Of these, 60% are dogs, and 18% are cats, according to the foundation.
Further, the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research found in a report citing the judicial branch, that from 2011 through 2021, 3,348 cases were brought under the state’s animal cruelty statute. “Of the 1,257 cases dismissed during this period, 1,087 (86%) were dismissed after the offender successfully completed a
diversionary program, such as the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program, the ORL report said.
Another highlight of the proposed bill would, for those convicted of animal cruelty, impose a five-year ban on that person working with, volunteering with or owning an animal.
In a recent case in Connecticut, three Massachusetts men were arrested in Middletown on Friday on animal cruelty charges after police said four horses and a pony were allegedly left outside for days with no food or water.
It’s essential to address animal cruelty, Borer said, not only for the protection of animals involved, but also because “animal cruelty has a strong link to family violence/”
Borer shared a statistic that almost 85 percent of domestic violence victims who have pets reported their abuser threatened, maimed or killed a pet in front of them.