Florida SB 416, “Sevilla’s Law,” is a consumer protection bill that seeks to establish mandatory professional standards and accountability for the companion animal cremation industry. The bill would require providers of companion animal cremation services to provide several written disclosures and include a certification with the returned animal’s cremated remains. It also would allow for agency fines and for civil penalties under a private right of action. The bill has been reintroduced after not passing during the previous legislative session.
Florida Considers Regulation of Companion Animal Cremation Industry
Kentucky Considers New Animal Cruelty Investigation Procedures and Penalties
Kentucky BR 290 would institute extensive procedures for confiscation of animals as well as bond and seizure requirements for peace officers and animal control officers who are investigating alleged acts of animal cruelty. For felony cruelty convictions, the bill also would allow courts to order forfeiture of the animals involved, reimbursement for costs of care, and a 5-year ban on “having custody of or residing in the same household with other animals.” The bill has not yet been referred to a committee.
New York Considers Cross-Reporting Requirements for Abuse of Animals and Children
New York S. 7401 would amend the state’s social services laws to require humane law enforcement officers and others responsible for investigating allegations of animal cruelty to report any suspected maltreatment or abuse of a child discovered during the course of their duties. It likewise would require individuals investigating child abuse to report any suspected maltreatment or cruelty to animals discovered in the course of fulfilling their professional responsibilities. The bill has been referred to the New York Senate Rules Committee.
Pennsylvania High Court Allows Witness Comfort Dogs in Courtrooms
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has decided in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Purnell that judges have the discretion to permit a witness to testify with the assistance of a comfort dog. The opinion held that “In exercising that discretion, courts should balance the degree to which the accommodation will assist the witness in testifying in a truthful manner against any possible prejudice to the defendant’s right to a fair trial and employ means to mitigate any such prejudice.” The court adopted a balancing test for judges to ask “will it help?” not “is it necessary?” In the instant case, the court specifically ruled that the presence of a comfort dog with a testifying child who allegedly had witnessed the defendant commit murder was not inherently prejudicial and was not grounds for the conviction to be overturned.
Colombia Considers Nationwide Paid Leave for Companion Animal Bereavement
A bill has been filed that would make Colombia the first country to include paid leave for companion animal bereavement in nationwide labor laws. Colombians currently are entitled to five days of paid leave following the death of a direct human family member, and the new bill would add two days of paid leave to mourn the death of a companion animal. The bill must pass four debates between the Colombia House of Representatives and the Senate in order to become law.
California Takes Action to Combat Emotional Support Animal Fraud
California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law Assembly Bill 468, which imposes strict requirements for emotional support animals. Among the law’s provisions are penalties for individuals who sell dogs as emotional support animals without providing documentation stating the animals are not entitled to the same accommodations as guide, signal, or service animals, and imposing restrictions on healthcare professionals regarding the lawful issuance of emotional support dog documentation. Violations of the statute are subject to civil penalties ranging from $500 - $2,500.
Delaware Clarifies Cruelty Code
Delaware Governor John Carney has signed into law Delaware Senate Bill 179, which rectifies redundancies in Senate Bill 139, enacted in March 2020 to amend the state’s cruelty code by prohibiting leaving dogs outside unattended for more than fifteen minutes in inclement weather, limiting tethering to a maximum of two hours, banning wire flooring in housing for dogs, and prohibiting allowing dogs to run at large except in rare instances such as at designated dog parks, while hunting, or on a farm.
Florida Considers Revising Definition of Misdemeanor Animal Cruelty
Florida Senate Bill 256 would reorder the elements necessary for a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. This bill is being considered concurrently with House Bill 121, introduced last week, which elevates crimes against animals perpetrated in the home or in the course of another felony to the level of aggravated animal cruelty.
Florida Considers Expanding Definition of Aggravated Animal Cruelty
Florida House Bill 121 would add causing the death or injury of an animal during the course of an unrelated felony, or unlawfully causing the death a family pet by “an act imminently dangerous to any animal and evincing a depraved mind” (regardless of the degree of suffering) as crimes that could be charged and prosecuted as aggravated cruelty, a third degree felony. Conviction for aggravated animal cruelty can mandate a fine of up to $10,000, psychological counseling, and anger management treatment, in addition to any prison sentence imposed. The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee.