S.B. 142 Animal Welfare Amendments: This bill amends cruelty to animals provisions to address a dog at a residence in extreme weather conditions. Sponsored by Sen. Gene Davis and Rep. Eric Hutchings. Status: WE NEED YOUR HELP! Email your representative or the Senate Rules Committee and ask that they move this bill out of rules and give it a fair hearing. Click here to find your Senator and click here to see members of the Senate Rules Committee where you can click on their name to see their email address.
H.B. 43 Support Animals Amendments: This bill amends provisions related to animals that provide support for individuals with disabilities. Sponsored by Rep. James Dunnigan and Sen. Curtis Bramble.
S.B. 45 Domestic Violence Revisions: This bill adds aggravated cruelty to an animal to the list of offenses that may qualify as a domestic violence offense. Sponsored by Sen. Allen Christensen. PASSED
H.B. 365 Animal Shelter Amendments: This bill addresses the methods by which an animal shelter may euthanize an animal (not using a gas chamber). Sponsored by Rep. Erik Hutchings.
- S.B. 91 - Animal Welfare Amendments: Define shelter for domestic dogs in extreme weather, sponsored by Sen. Gene Davis. FAILED. This bill did not make it to the House floor before the session ended.
- H.B. 226 - Citation Authority Amendments: Prevent a provision from taking effect that prohibits municipal animal control officers from enforcing laws, sponsored by Rep. Kay Christofferson. PASSED House and Senate.
- S.B. 57 - Police Service Animal Amendments: sponsored by Sen. Jani Iwamoto. PASSED House and Senate.
- H.B. 221 - Animal Welfare Act Amendments: Require animal shelters to publish information regarding animals, sponsored by Rep. Brian King. FAILED.
- S.B. 50 - Animal Shelter Amendments: Ban gas chamber euthanasia, sponsored by Sen. Peter Knudson. FAILED.
Photo courtesy of The Humane Society of the United States
Currently, Utah law states that you must provide food, water and shelter for a companion animal but there is no definition for "shelter." We are in support of amending the language to define what is considered an adequate shelter with S.B. 142 sponsored by Sen. Gene Davis.
The current law is vague, and owners could face criminal charges depending on the interpretation of individual officers or prosecutors. A clearly defined law is necessary to help owners understand what they are required to provide for the humane treatment of their pets and to eliminate confusion among officers and the court so the law can be applied consistently.
All domestic dogs and cats need proper shelter and care, but it is especially important for those that are kept outdoors for extended periods of time in extreme weather conditions. Pets predominantly kept outdoors are exposed to harsh weather elements such as rain, sleet, snow, and heat. The Humane Society of Utah recommends that owners bring their pets inside during extreme weather. If left outside, they should have access to a barn, dog house, or other structure that is sufficiently sound to protect against inclement weather and extreme temperatures.
Why is this bill important?
- Protection from the elements is essential for all domestic dogs, regardless of breed or size. Every breed is susceptible to hypothermia, frostbite, heatstroke, and even death depending on duration and weather conditions. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that dogs, even thick-coated arctic breeds, should never be left outside during below freezing weather – and especially not without shelter that allows the dog to maintain normal body temperature.
- Cases of animals left outside in dangerous weather are frequently investigated by law enforcement agencies, but the vagueness of our current law makes enforcement difficult.
- Harm can be caused to a dog through the negligent acts or omissions of an owner. A definition outlining the requirements may allow law enforcement to intervene and correct a situation before injury occurs and a dog owner faces criminal charges.
- 14 states clearly define shelter or dog house in their cruelty statute.
* Factors such as the pet's health, age, and breed are all considered on a case by case basis by animal control officers when they respond to a complaint. This bill is not intended as a regulatory or enforcement bill, it simply seeks to define the word shelter and would not include any other animal other than a domestic dog in the counties of the first class. It does not apply to wildlife or livestock. This is not an anti-tethering bill, however, an owner cannot leave an animal unattended in a manner that prevents the animal from reaching shelter.
The Utah Animal Control Officers Association (UACOA), Salt Lake County, Sandy City, West Valley City, West Jordan City, Davis County, and other animal control officers support S.B. 142!
Related articles from 2018:
These photos represent inadequate shelter. A dog must have the ability to reach adequate shelter during extreme heat or cold conditions.
See how your Senator voted in 2018:
We believe that legislation is needed to prevent gas chambers from being used by the remaining shelters that have them, or any future use.
Utah is one of four states where a handful of animal shelters are still using the outdated and inhumane method of gas chamber euthanasia.
Both the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Humane Society of Utah (HSU) have been working together to help the eight Utah animal shelters that are still utilizing a gas chamber to euthanize animals make the transition from carbon monoxide gas to euthanasia by injection (EBI) only.
- Utah is one of four states in the U.S. that still uses a gas chamber to euthanize animals.
- Out of the 57 animal shelters HSU tracks, seven have a gas chamber.
- Euthanasia by injection (EBI) is comparable in cost, faster, painless and safer for personnel.
- In regard to personnel safety, carbon monoxide is extremely hazardous, toxic, and explosive in high concentrations.
- EBI takes 3-5 seconds to lose consciousness and 2-4 minutes for death to occur. Gas Chambers can take up to 30 minutes, and some animals survive the terrifying process. The uptake of CO cannot be accurately measured in a shelter setting, especially if more than one animal is inside, the animal is too young, old, ill, injured, or has mental stress or physical abnormality.
- EBI is the ONLY PREFERRED method by every major national veterinary and animal welfare organization.