State Sen. Mike Bennett has filed legislation that could make Florida a “no-kill” state for dogs and cats in animal shelters and, according to Bennett, save taxpayers money.
Senate Bill 818 would require “any animal control agency or animal shelter that euthanizes animals to maintain a registry of animal rescue groups that are willing to accept animals that would otherwise be subject to euthanization,” the bill states.
Bennett, R-Bradenton, said the legislation combines “compassion and business sense.”
“Florida has an opportunity to join other states setting a nationwide example by passing a bill that could save thousands of animals and help direct dollars toward other important initiatives,” Bennett said in a news release. “When we are not using dollars to care for, kill and dispose of animals, there is an immediate cost savings to local governments.”
Bennett filed his bill in the wake of Manatee County last month adopting a policy to make its Animal Services operations “no-kill” and to work with animal welfare groups to place at least 90 percent of the animals in shelters in new homes.
County Commission Chairwoman Carol Whitmore, who worked with animal rescue groups for three years to end most euthanasia cases in Manatee by December 2012, had not read Bennett’s bill as of Thursday night, but said, “I’m glad Manatee has at least stimulated the dialogue.”
Manatee’s plan calls for a gradual increase in its “live release” rate from 61 percent to more than 90 percent by next year, the Herald has previously reported. The county had a 68 percent rate in October, surpassing its goal of 63 percent.
Bennett’s proposed Florida Animal Rescue Act also offers protections for the safety of both the public and animals, excluding dangerous dogs, irremediably suffering animals, and it would also exclude organizations affiliated with a volunteer, staff member, director or officer convicted of animal neglect, cruelty or dog fighting, suspending the organization while charges are pending, according to a news release.