If we want to make lifesaving change for cats, we must make sure the laws that impact cats every day reflect our compassionate values. That’s why Alley Cat Allies’ legal experts are focused on state and local legislation that would affect cats and the people who care for them in 2019.
We’ve worked with lawmakers on language to include in bills, prepared letters of support, and are gearing up to testify in favor of proposals that will protect and improve cats’ lives. We’re mobilizing our supporters to urge their communities to make the humane change that all cats deserve.
Here are some of the state bills that Alley Cat Allies is monitoring this year:
Legislators are considering Senate Bill 105, which adds important definitions like “community cat,” “eartipping,” and “Trap-Neuter-Return” to state law. These definitions help people better understand the TNR process and how it benefits cats and communities. It also helps shelters, animal control officers, and others properly implement TNR programs so they can run smoothly and effectively and save more cats. With these definitions, TNR programs are not hindered by legal barriers, lack of knowledge, or concern from community members. The bill also permits shelters to practice “Return-To-Field,” meaning shelter staff can return cats to their outdoor homes once they have been spayed or neutered and vaccinated.
Alley Cat Allies will be watching important bills in New Jersey that have carried over from 2018 into the 2019 legislative session. We plan to testify in favor of these bills as we have done before.
State legislators will also consider Senate Bill 725, which supports and encourages shelters to develop programs to spay and neuter, vaccinate, and return community cats to the location where they were trapped. These programs save cats’ lives by keeping them out shelters, where most cats are killed, and provides vaccinations to keep cats healthy. The bill also reduces shelter hold periods for cats who are part of a TNR program so they can be returned to their outdoor homes more quickly, freeing up space for adoptable animals.
Cat declawing bans will be reconsidered as Assembly Bill 347 and Senate Bill 1209. These proposed bills prohibit the surgical declawing of cats and other animals throughout the state. Declawing is an unnecessary procedure that can cause long-term harm to cats. These bills will ensure that cats in the state never go through this painful surgery.
Alley Cat Allies is working to add important changes to Senate Bill 3. The bill creates a new section in the law for the crime of animal abandonment. However, the bill fails to exempt people who are returning community cats to their outdoor homes as part of a TNR program from its definition of abandonment. Our staff is preparing language to provide to officials that will protect community cats and people who practice TNR.
The language will clarify that the animal abandonment section will not apply to a citizen returning cats during the TNR process. TNR is not abandonment; it is simply returning community cats to the outdoor homes where they have been living and thriving.
Legislators are considering House Bill 921, which requires animal shelters and agencies to create and maintain public records that allow citizens to know the outcome of every animal that enters a shelter’s doors. People will be able to learn if cats are adopted, killed, or are returned outdoors through programs like Trap-Neuter-Return. Residents and advocates would be able to determine whether their shelters need humane changes to protect animals and improve outcomes.
Officials will consider House Bill 688, which establishes the Companion Animal Welfare Division within the Department of Agriculture. The division has the potential to save cats’ lives because it is tasked with inspecting and investigating pet vendors, animal shelters, and hobby breeders to make sure they are treating animals properly. If an animal shelter or breeder isn’t meeting the law’s humane standards for animals, the division has the authority to shut them down. Those standards include ensuring that animals are living in sanitary and comfortable conditions and are being scanned for microchips immediately so they can be returned to their families or caregivers.
The Vermont House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry is considering a bill to protect community cats and their caregivers. House Bill 158 clarifies that the “return” in Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is not abandonment and that the people who care for community cats are not their owners. If HB 158 passes, Vermont will recognize that it is in the best interest of shelters and cats to return community cats to their outdoor homes as quickly as possible through a TNR program.
Watch out fo￼r Alley Cat Allies’ emails or visit our Action Center to see how you can help us press for laws that protect and improve cats‘ lives. You can also check out our resources to help you advocate for humane laws for cats in your community!