Bradenton’s State Sen. Mike Bennett introduced SB 818, known as the “Animal Rescue Act,” on Nov. 3. State Rep. Joseph Abruzzo is sponsoring HB 597. The “Animal Rescue Act” is a step in the right direction for the animals and shelters responsible for their care.
SB818/HB597 simply requires shelters that euthanize animals to contact animal rescue groups prior to euthanizing animals and afford these groups an opportunity to save a life!
SB818/HB597 would require an animal control agency or animal shelter, as defined in the bill, to maintain a registry for animal rescue groups that are willing to accept animals that are otherwise subject to euthanasia.
Manatee County Animal Services maintains a sizable list of local and statewide rescue groups, or as we call them, animal welfare organizations. And, at the discretion of the animal control agency or animal shelter, those animal rescue groups that have not met the qualifications of 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code may also be included on the list.
What’s not to like? The animal agency keeps a list of qualified, by their own standards, animal rescue groups willing to take animals that would otherwise be euthanized.
SB818/HB597 asks that the animal control agency or animal shelter provide eligibility requirements and an application process for the animal rescue group to fill out and be approved by the animal control agency or animal shelter. Certain requirements are noted in SB818/HB597 that must be included in the rescue group registry including the rescue’s name, mailing address, phone number, emergency contact information and what types of animals they are interested in.
This is very basic information you would want to know anyway.
The animal control agency or animal shelter may require a rescue group to provide a report as to the status of their animals. The report can be as informal as an email.
The animal control agency or animal shelter may not euthanize an animal until notification or every reasonable attempt to notify the groups or persons in the registry has been made. This notification must take place at least 24 hours before the animal is scheduled to be euthanized.
Manatee County Animal Services has a predisposition list under “We DO NOT want to be KILLED!” on our website. The “Due Out” date you will see is the date the animal can be adopted, transferred or, as a very last resort -- killed.
SB818/HB597 says an animal may not be euthanized if a rescue group or person on the list indicates a willingness to take possession of the animal. This makes complete sense. What agency would want to kill an animal when a group wants to save its life?
The stipulation is that the rescue group or person on the list must take possession of the animal within two business days of notifying the agency that has the animal. No problem, since most of the rescues probably have made advance plans anyway so they could take the animal the day it was due out to be transferred, without a need to hold an animal any extra days. Our predisposition list makes this all possible.
SB818/HB597 also permits the animal control agency or animal shelter to charge a fee, not to exceed the standard adoption fee, for each animal transferred. Manatee County Animal Services does not charge a fee for any rescue group to transfer an animal from our impoundment area. We do not hold any particular animals we have impounded for our own adoptions. If any of our animal welfare organization members sees an animal they are interested in, we place their name on it. When the animal is due out, the organization makes the transfer.
Now, these requirements do not apply to an irremediably suffering animal, which may be euthanized without delay, or a dangerous dog. This makes perfect sense.
Upon impoundment of an unweaned animal without its mother, an animal control agency or animal shelter that has not placed the animal into foster care or not able to provide supplemental feeding shall immediately make an emergency appeal to a rescue group or person to care for these animals. Manatee County Animal Services has a resolution in place that permits immediate transfer of these unweaned animals.
The final portion of this bill addresses reporting. Each animal control agency or animal shelter is to provide a monthly and annual summary as to the animal intakes and outcomes. This is not much to ask. Manatee County Animal Services reports this each month and annually already.
These reports are given to our animal welfare organizations, Board of County Commissioners, Animal Services Advisory Board members and others people in the general public. Reporting is no secret. Reports are necessary for the budget preparation and business development.
SB818/HB597 is not requiring an animal control agency or animal shelter to do anything they should not already be doing. We are here for the animals. Our job is to save the lives of animals. Reducing killing reduces cost to the animal control agency or animal shelter.
Taxpayers should not have their money spent on killing animals when private non-profit organizations are willing to save them.
This bill should be supported. Do it for the animals – they deserve a second chance. I am sure they will bet their life on it.
Adopt your new family member from Manatee County Animal Services today. Don’t forget about our December adoption special. We want every animal “home for the holidays.” Adopt any dog for $40 and any cat for $20, which includes the required license certificate and tag. A microchip is also included.
Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.