Animal advocates criticize Alabama Senate bills on abuse, pets in hot cars

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Animal advocates and humane societies across the state are calling for Alabama Senate bills 196 and 67 to be seriously looked at and not passed.

SB 196 is receiving the most scrutiny. It calls for the commissioner for the Department of Agriculture to handle all regulations and animal abuse reports. The bill also leaves strict reporting requirements of any alleged animal cruelty so that if someone reports animal abuse and it is deemed a “frivolous complaint,” the reporter could face criminal charges.

The Greater Birmingham Humane Society said SB 196 could destroy animal shelters and sees the bill as outrageous.

“This part of the bill shows the venom of whoever was behind this bill. Even if you’re convicted of animal cruelty and abuse and neglect and if an impoundment facility, like us, if we impounded the animals and had to hold them while you were waited to go to court and you’re convicted, any donor money that was sent to us to help offset the cost of caring for that animal, we have to turn over to offset the convicted individuals fines and penalties,” said Allison Black Cornelius, CEO of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society.

GBHS has called SB 196 the “Pet Abuse Protection Act.” Cornelius also explained that the bill strips any local laws that were passed to protect animals and leaves everything under the Department of Agriculture.

Another bill animal advocates are upset about is SB 67, which involves leaving pets in hot cars.

What animal advocates do like about SB 67 is it grants immunity to first responders getting an animal out of a car that looks distressed, but advocates believe the guidelines need to be tweaked.

The first thing they want to be changed is to include an animal control officer in the list with first responders.

The big thing animal advocates are upset about with the bill is it lessens the charge for the person who is found guilty of leaving an animal in a hot car. Right now, it’s a felony but the charge in SB 67 would lesson it to a misdemeanor.

“The bill looks harmless. It looks like it’s this great bill that it’s going to help animals but in actuality, the devil is in the detail, hate to say that but you figure out when you reading in between the lines what that bill is saying and it, unfortunately, is missing some things,” Cornelius said.

SB 67 states that the car has to be 99 degrees or hotter inside for the animal to be removed. GBHS said that’s already way too hot and different temperatures affect different breeds and sizes.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Mash has told CBS 42 that SB 196 is being put on hold until the language and intent can be worked out.


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