From Arizona to Rhode Island, officials in states around the nation have passed lifesaving laws this year—including banning the sale of animals from commercial breeders in pet stores and extending anti-cruelty protections to community cats and other animals. And we still have four months to go till the end of 2018!  

Alley Cat Allies tracks, and advocates for, animal protection bills in states around the country year after year. To keep you informed, we’ve pulled together some of the cat-friendly laws that are now on the books or are waiting to be signed into law. Among them: 

Delaware Supports TNR 

Bill: House Bill 235 

Signed into law: Awaiting the Governor’s Signature 

The upshot: This law allows animal shelters to exempt community cats from shelter holding periods, and instead directs them to Shelter-Neuter-Return (SNR) or Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs. It also clarifies that community cats are protected by Delaware’s animal cruelty laws.  

Why it’s important: Animal shelters across the state will now be able to spay or neuter community cats and return them outdoors immediately, freeing up shelter space and resources for adoptable animals. To date, 10 states have laws that specifically support TNR. These laws are critical. They validate existing and potential TNR efforts, ensuring more community cats can benefit from the program. Alley Cat Allies advocated tirelessly for this bill every step of the way. 

Rhode Island Cracks Down on Animal Cruelty  

BillsHouse Bill 7986 and Senate Bill 2135 

Signed into law: July 2018 

The upshot: House Bill 7986 requires anyone entrusted with the care of an animal—including veterinarians, animal shelter staff, and animal control officers—to report suspected animal cruelty. Senate Bill 2135 increases penalties for animal cruelty. 

Why it’s important: Veterinarians, animal shelter staff, and animal control officers are on the front lines of animal care. Their responsibility to animals extends beyond the shelter or clinic. Reporting suspected cruelty ensures more animals stay safe.   

Requiring Adoptions for Retired Research Animals in Delaware, Maryland, and Rhode Island  

Bills: Delaware Senate Bill 101, Maryland Senate Bill 675, and Rhode Island House Bill 7414/Senate Bill 2980 

Signed into law: June 2018, April 2018, and July 2018, respectively  

The upshot: These laws ensure healthy cats and dogs in research laboratories are put up for adoption when they are no longer used in experiments. 

Why these laws are important: Cats and dogs involved in research deserve the chance to live out their lives in peace. These laws hold research facilities accountable for how they treat these animals and make their actions transparent to the public. 

Banning Commercial Breeder Sales in Maryland Pet Stores  

Bill: House Bill 1662 

Signed into law: April 2018 

The upshot: This law bans pet stores in Maryland from selling cats or dogs from large commercial breeders, typically referred to as puppy mills. Pet stores are required to only sell dogs and cats from animal shelters or certain licensed breeders.  

Why it’s important: Shelters are a much better source for providing adoptable animals to pet stores, particularly since so many healthy animals are waiting in shelters for their forever home. Nationwide, nearly 70 percent of cats who enter shelters are killed there. That makes this law an incredible win for shelter animals. Also, Maryland is the second state in the nation, after California, to enact such a ban. This law also shows that the state opposes mass breeding operations that are typically poorly regulated and keep cats and dogs in inhumane conditions. 

Avoiding Tragedy for Abandoned Animals in Arizona Rental Homes  

Bill: Senate Bill 1376 

Signed into law: April 2018 

The upshot: This law details landlords’ duties with respect to animals abandoned by tenants at rental properties. The law requires landlords to give animals to a shelter, care for the animals themselves or notify the local animal control. 

Why it’s important: Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for tenants to move out of rental homes and leave their animals behind. The consequences can be fatal if landlords fail to check on the rental property in a timely manner. Other states have been considering similar legislation. This law is a critical step forward in making it clear that landlords’ responsibilities regarding their properties extends to both humans and animals. 

Indiana StrengthenCross-Reporting for Suspected Domestic, Child, and Animal Abuse  

Bill: Senate Bill 431 

Signed into law: March 2018 

The upshotHeeding the link between domestic, child, and animal abuse, this law encourages employees from certain government agencies to report instances of suspected abuse not under their jurisdiction. For example, if child protective service workers are called to a house, and observe animals who appear to be in distress, they are encouraged to report it to animal control.  

Why it’s important: Although anyone can report suspected animal abuse, a law that explicitly states that child and adult protective services employees can do so is important to strengthen the sharing of information among agencies. This law is intended to encourage agencies to work together to identify potential or suspected abuse of children, adults, and animals earlier. The law also raises awareness among workers regarding signs of possible animal abuse.  

Helping to Reunite Lost Dogs and Cats With Owners in Florida  

Bill: Senate Bill 1576 

Signed into law: March 2018 

The upshotThis law requires animal shelters and animal control agencies to implement policies and procedures that help return lost cats and dogs to their owners. 

Why it’s important: Florida is vulnerable to hurricanes and emergency evacuations. As a result, the risk is high that cats and dogs may get separated from their owners during such an event. It’s critical that animal shelters and organizations have effective policies in place to reunite animals and people.