Last week I participated in Arizona Humane Animal Lobby Day at the Capitol hosted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). I also participated last year. On one hand it’s invigorating to be in a roomful of like-minded animal advocates but on the hand — it’s politics, Arizona politics.
Based on my 2010 experience, the two bills that I was primarily interested in 1)ban steroids for racing greyhounds and 2)decouple live dog racing from simulcast betting at Tucson Greyhound Park — never had a hearing so never got out of committee.
Some 2011 pro-animal bills have all fought their way out of the committees and now go to the AZ House and AZ Senate. As citizen lobbyists, some of us were scheduled to meet with our legislators and briefly talk about these bills.
Here are the bills we learned about:
dog tracks; live racing exception
HB 2536 removes the requirement that a dog racing permittee conduct a minimum number of races during a calendar year. Advocates were urged to ask lawmakers to support HB 2536.
(Blogger’s note: This bill was amended to include 100 racing days a year. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Vic Williams on behalf of Tucson Greyhound Park which initially mentioned lessening or eliminating the number of live racing days entirely.
Rep. J.D. Mesnard amended with the addition of 100 days. As an anti-dog-racing activist, I am furious about the 100 days but considering the DNA of our legislators, consider it a step in the right direction. One hundred days of racing is better than year around dog racing. With 100 days of racing, dogs won’t have to race when it’s 100-sizzling degrees. Also less time will be spent confined to small cages, eating raw 4D meat (from dead, dying, diseased, downer animals), less female dogs will be injected with steroids, less dogs will suffer broken hocks, broken skulls, paralysis, and heart attacks. Less dogs will die or be bred for racing. Yes, 100 days of racing is a step to end the cruelty of dog racing; seasonal dog racing tracks are on the skids as is the entire industry. According to my Phoenix friend Dave who attended the committee hearing for HB 2536, not one mention alluded to animal cruelty; it’s business as usual.)
dogs, cats, sterilization
HB 2137 allows the sterilization of a dog or cat by another procedure other than surgical sterilization. Advocates were asked to urge lawmakers to support this.
(Blogger’s note: I’m not convinced this is a good thing. One gentleman present who somehow may have been involved with the Flagstaff company behind this bill said they had a similar product to control the rat population in Asia. He also said that Arizona and Texas were considering this kind of sterilization. This was a red flag to me and others in the audience because historically Arizona and Texas are not animal-friendly. While I would like to see less over procreation of the pet population, the skeptic in me doesn’t think that better living through more chemicals for canines is the answer.)
public sale of animals
HB2539 prohibits the public sale of animals statewide, with certain exceptions. We were urged to support this law which faced opposition last year from the rural counties.
animal abuse, reporting
SB 1517 requires reports to be issued in certain instances of animal abuse and prohibits a person who has been convicted of animal abuse from adopting any animal while on probation. We were urged to ask our representatives for support.
statewide initiatives; periodic reauthorization
SCR 1027 – Upon voter approval, requires the reauthorization of statewide initiative measures that affect public monies after ten fiscal years. We were urged to OPPOSE this Frank Antenori bill. These are initiatives that already were voted on by the people and for the people and some lawmakers want to undo the done deals.
Historically, the majority of our legislators are not animal friendly, or people friendly, for that matter although there are exceptions. However, it’s the voters who support animal-friendly ballot initiatives.
You can view the 2010 legislative report card regarding animal issues compiled by the Humane Voters of Arizona.
If you care about any of the above animal bills, now would be the time to call or email your Arizona House and Senate representatives. If you don’t know who they are, go here.
(Photo is courtesy of Dawn Heinemann, animal care director for Arizona Greyhound Rescue. As a fostered dog, Dena is enjoying life in the slow lane.)