Proposed Legislation in Wisconsin Could Shred Safety Net For Homeless Pets
There has been much talk about proposed new legislation in Wisconsin. If you listen to some animal advocates, you would think that Wisconsin's AB487/SB450 is the best thing to come around the bend in recent years. Even Best Friends Animal Society has come out in support, recently sending an email to their supporters, which reads, in part:
It’s not every day that we get an opportunity to make an enormous difference and save the lives of our state’s animals. Lucky for us, today is just that day. Our state leaders in the legislature in Madison are about to kick off debate on AB 487/SB 450, a bill that will have a huge lifesaving impact on animals. We need your help to urge them to support this critical legislation.
On paper, at least in this email, the legislation sounds great. And, honestly, parts of it are. The devil is in the details.
This bill would allow animal shelters in Wisconsin to put up for adoption, following a holding period, animals that have been confiscated because authorities believed they were used in crimes against other animals. The most common example of this would be dogs used for dog fighting. If this proposed legislation became law, animal shelters would be allowed (note, "allowed" not "required") to put animals used for dog fighting up for adoption.
That would be a positive step in Wisconsin, assuming a significant number of shelters in Wisconsin WOULD put fight-bust dogs (or other similarly situated animals) up for adoption. That part of this proposed legislation is, obviously, great news.
The problem with the bill lies in a provision that would significantly shorten the holding period for stray/lost pets, thereby giving their owners less time to find them. This is, definitely, NOT good news for Wisconsin pet owners or their four-legged friends.
At many shelters, the municipally-imposed mandatory holding period is a shelter animal's only lifeline. Some shelters, including many in Wisconsin, regularly schedule healthy and treatable pets to be destroyed as soon as their holding period expires. At these shelters, if this bill became law, it would accelerate the killing, not help it.
This bill, therefore, is a bit of good and bad. No Kill Learning believes the bad in this bill far outweighs the good. The number of animals confiscated in situations like dog fight busts pales in comparison to the number of healthy and treatable stray pets taken in by shelters. Potentially helping a percentage of the former group, while almost certainly harming more of the larger group seems terrible misguided.
It is the position of No Kill Learning that animal advocates should ask Wisconsin lawmakers to amend this bill to delete any reference to reduced holding periods. If that does not happen, it is our opinion this bill should not be passed.