Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6334

Title:

AN ACT REQUIRING THE REGISTRATION OF ANIMAL SHELTERS.

Vote Date:

3/10/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/6/2017

File No.:

256

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Rep. Gary Byron, 27th Dist.

Rep. Josh Elliott, 88th Dist.

Rep. Brenda L. Kupchick, 132nd Dist.

Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria, 105th Dist.

Rep. Themis Klarides, 114th Dist.

Rep. Gail Lavielle, 143rd Dist.

Rep. Geraldo C. Reyes, 75th Dist.

Rep. J.P. Sredzinski, 112th Dist.

Rep. Melissa H. Ziobron, 34th Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

Concerns have been shared in regards to minimal oversight of animal shelters in Connecticut. In recent years, the SPCA of Connecticut Inc., an animal shelter based in Monroe Connecticut, has had multiple citations and visits by local and state officials concerning the cruelty and abuse of animals in their care. These animals had been kept in overcrowded, infectious, and inhumane conditions according to reports by local animal control officers. Although conditions had been identified as hazardous, both local animal control and state officials were unable to intervene. Current law only requires registration for commercial kennels, pet shops, groomers, and animal training facilities. This bill seeks to provide regulatory enforcement of animal shelters to the Department of Agriculture through the registration of such animal shelters.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE – LCO #5209

Substitute language clarifies the definition of animal shelter as a privately run entity that operates solely to house homeless animals for the purpose of rescue or adoption, and not operated within a private residence. Testimony shared by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, and the Human Society of the United States suggested such changes to the definition.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Steven Reviczky, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg): Supports the bill; however, the department recommends the following changes: (1) Defining “animal shelter” as a privately run entity operating a building or facility used solely to house homeless animals for the purpose of rescue or adoption and not operating inside one's primary private residence, and (2) Implementing a fee for each animal shelter registration of one hundred dollars annually. There have been recent high-profile cases in Connecticut where animals were housed in deplorable conditions. These cases have led to the expenditure of many thousands of dollars and the exhaustion of municipal animal control resources. Additionally, Connecticut and Vermont are the only two New England states that do not require the registration of not-for-profit animal shelters.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Nancy Baldoni, Director, Valley Shore Animal Welfare League: Shared personal testimony, as the director of the Valley Shore Animal Welfare League, of the dedication that is necessary in order to maintain a healthy and safe environment for cats and dogs. With statutory shelter standards in place it will be possible to prevent harm to animals awaiting adoption in substandard conditions. A $100 licensing fee will offset any state inspection costs; also it will also make it possible to compile and maintain information on each site.

Donna Hamzy, Advocacy Manager, Connecticut Council of Municipalities (CCM):

CCM supports the bill as it would (1) prohibit the operation of an animal shelter until such shelter has been registered with the Commissioner of Agriculture and (2) require that the local zoning officer has certified that it conforms to the municipal zoning regulations where such shelter will be located.

Annie Hornish, Connecticut Senior State Director, The Humane Society of the United States: Recommends an amendment to the bill to include a definition for animal shelter as “a privately run entity that operates a building or facility used solely to house homeless animals for the purpose of rescue or adoption and does not operate inside one's primary private residence”. This change will better reflect the intent of this bill, which would be to require registration of private brick-and-mortar animal shelters, require the regulations that define standards of care, and authorize the inspection of such animal shelters by animal control officers for compliance.

Debra Kempton, Plainville, CT: Shared personal testimony as a former volunteer at the Almost Home Animal Shelter in Plainville, explaining that animal shelters were not required to maintain minimum standards of animal care.

Themis Klarides, State Representative 114th Dist.: This bill is an important proposal to require that animal shelters in Connecticut be registered with the Department of Agriculture. Shared personal testimony as to how this type of registration came to her attention when she was looking to adopt a cat from a privately run shelter in Monroe. The animals were living in terrible conditions. After speaking to local officials about the issue; she was told that one of the persons running the shelter had been previously convicted of animal cruelty. However, officials were constrained in their ability to regulate the shelter due to loopholes in Connecticut laws.

Brenda Kupchick, State Representative, 132nd Dist.: This is a bill that requires commercial kennels or brick and mortar rescue operation to acquire and maintain licenses with the state's Department of Agriculture. This licensing requirement will ensure uniform quality and health standards for such facilities around the state. These standards will protect not only domestic animal, but consumers who adopt as well.

Laura “Peach” Reid, Chair, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC): In supporting the bill, PIJAC recommends that standards as outlined in the bill will coincide with current animal care standards found in Connecticut pet stores, municipal shelters, and current codified regulations. Additionally, PIJAC recommends for language that would require animal shelters to annually report, to the Department of Agriculture, the number of dogs and other pets handled throughout the calendar year.

The Environment Committee received in excess of 115 additional similar testimonies supporting the bill as it would require the registration of Connecticut's brick and mortar animal shelters, allow for their inspection, and require compliance with basic, humane facility standards and animal care practices.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Expressed.

Reported by: Steve Smith / Ussawin R. Bumpen

Date: 3/30/2017