PIJAC Offers Perspective on Recent Pet Legislation
Now more than ever, being in the know about local and state legislation is essential for pet specialty retailers and others in the pet industry. However, understanding what is going around the country can also be beneficial.
In an effort to keep the industry abreast of recent and upcoming changes in legislation and regulations, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council—an organization that represents and advocates for the responsible pet industry, including but not limited to pet specialty retailers, companion animal suppliers, manufacturers, wholesale distributors and pet hobbyists—offers Pet Product News readers an update on current affairs.
Florida sent state lawmakers home on May 8, leaving several pet industry-related bills unresolved until 2018.
Of the measures on which PIJAC was actively engaged in Florida, we are reassured to see a poorly created animal abuse registry fail to gain support. House Bill 871 would have put retail employees on the front lines of confronting dangerous felons who abuse animals.
We also opposed House Bill 1067, which would have allowed pet owners to sue for non-economic damages. While all animals have inherent value, allowing emotion-based damages after an animal is hurt or killed creates an imbalance in the human-animal relationship. And as we previously reported, Senate Bill 230 would have spent $600,000 over two years on largely duplicative programs that improperly identified several species as invasive.
On the flip side, we would have liked to have seen House Bill 17 allow for standardized statewide regulations for pet stores, and House Bill 515 improve standards and oversight on animal shelters. Stringent regulations should exist for all partners in providing pets to consumers, no matter the source. PIJAC looks forward to again engaging with lawmakers on these bills.
Two animal abuse registries received action in recent weeks. Tallahassee, Fla.’s City Commission adopted a registry that did not include a mandate for point-of-sale verification. This language correctly recognized the importance of protecting shelter volunteers and retail employees from direct confrontation with convicted animal abusers.
The Nevada State Senate Finance Committee heard Senate Bill 405 on May 3. No action was taken on this bill, which PIJAC opposes because, unlike the Tallahassee measure, it requires shelter, retailer and other employees to act as law enforcement. This is inappropriate for the necessary task of stopping abusers.
Maine lawmakers tabled Senate Bill 502 on May 11, which means it could be brought back up in the future. This legislation, which is backed by PIJAC, requires permits for those who bring certain fish, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates and aquatic plants into the state. No permit is required for other species of such animals that are not on the list, as long as they are kept in an aquarium.
What’s Coming Up:
Pet sale bans are all the rage on the Coasts. In June, the Cambridge, Mass., Ordinance Committee will hold a hearing on a pet sale ban on cats, dogs, amphibians, reptiles and birds. This is among the most comprehensive bans on pets that PIJAC has ever seen. The hearing is scheduled for June 6.
Fort Lauderdale and Hillsborough County, both in Florida, are considering pet sale bans. The Hillsborough ordinance will affect an estimated 10 stores that sell pets; a hearing is set for May 17. Fort Lauderdale’s ordinance is set for a vote on June 6.
Perhaps most important is a possible override effort on Senate Bill 3041 in New Jersey. This is a bill that was conditionally vetoed by Governor Chris Christie earlier this month; advocates for pet sale bans are hoping to implement the first successful override of Christie in his seven-plus years in office. PIJAC is working hard to ensure that the Senate does not get the 27 votes necessary to override the veto.
Another statewide ban under consideration in California is Assembly Bill 485. This measure passed the Assembly Committee on Appropriations May 17 and now faces a vote by the full state Assembly. PIJAC, pet stores, and other industry voices are actively engaging on this issue with state legislators and in the press.
PIJAC is urging Hawaii Governor David Ige to veto Senate Bill 1240. This bill effectively bans commercial aquarium fishing under the auspices of a “moratorium” on the issuance of fishing licenses. PIJAC has worked closely with Hawaii’s fishing industry against the bill, pointing to sound science and good data to make the case that the state’s aquatic species are much healthier than bill proponents claim.
If this bill is signed into law, it will go into effect immediately. SB 1240 only allows the grandfathered transfer of fishing permits for five years.
Robert Likins is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) vice president of government affairs. Since 1970, PIJAC has protected pets, pet owners and the pet industry—promoting responsible pet ownership and animal welfare, fostering environmental stewardship, and ensuring the availability of pets. PIJAC members include retailers, companion animal suppliers, manufacturers, wholesale distributors, manufacturers’ representatives, pet hobbyists, and other trade organizations.