Bill would return ban on dyeing chicks

Sun SentinelFebruary 12, 2013 

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Purple bunnies and pink baby chicks may soon be a thing of the past -- again.

Last year, state legislators overturned a 45-year ban on the dyeing of chicks, bunnies and other critters, sparking an outcry from activists and front page coverage by The New York Times.

But the law, in effect since July, may be reversed if state Sen. Maria Sachs gets her way.

Sachs, D-Delray Beach, has introduced a bill that would prohibit the dyeing of bunnies, chicks and other animals. The bill also would make it illegal to sell or give away chicks and ducklings less than 4 weeks old and rabbits less than 2 months old -- a prohibition that was part of the dyeing ban.

Sachs intends to restore the law to the way it was before her predecessor, Fort Lauderdale Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff, led the charge to change it.

Bogdanoff tacked the amendment on to an agriculture bill to allow groomers to dye dogs, not realizing it would also pave the way for chicks, ducklings and bunnies to be sold or given away when just days old.

"People were upset when it passed last session," Sachs said.

Hundreds of outraged animal lovers called and emailed the office of Gov. Rick Scott, urging him to veto the bill.

"How could anyone be in favor of cruelty to animals?" one Boca Raton man asked at the time.

Animal activists spread the word that turning a chick blue was cruel and potentially lethal. Many dyes are poisonous to animals that ingest the toxins when they preen themselves, they said.

Sachs was horrified by reports that too much dye could blind a puppy.

"Florida should not be going backward when it comes to our treatment of animals," she said.

Greg Docktor, an Oakland Park pet groomer, was none too pleased to hear the ban might be restored.

For two years, Docktor complained to Bogdanoff about the state's dyeing ban, prompting her push to overturn it. Docktor contends that dyeing pets merely adds a "little bling" and is perfectly safe.

Critics slammed legislators for approving a bill without knowing the consequences.

"This law has been in place for decades protecting baby ducks and chicks and rabbits," said Don Anthony, spokesman for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. "Irresponsible parents would buy these animals on a whim and they would die within a few days. That's why this law was passed in the first place."

Elton Gissendanner, the retired legislator who got the ban passed in 1967, was thrilled about the new bill. As a vet, Gissendanner said he saw too many chicks dying after being colored pink and blue.

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