Recently Introduced Michigan Senate Bill 560 Would Have an Impact on Stray Hold Laws, Dog Breeders and the Gassing of Pets by Shelters

photo credit: Michigan Humane Society

photo credit: Michigan Humane Society

Senate Bill 560 was introduced Tuesday, October 2, 2013 by Senator Steve Bieda (Warren) and assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee. The bill requires large large-scale commercial dog breeders in Michigan to be registered with the state and follow established guidelines of care for the dogs and puppies in their facilities. It would also limit the size of large-scale breeders.

The law also updates stray animal holding times in animal shelters. According to the Michigan Humane Society, who helped craft the bill, a shorter hold time for stray cats without identification (two days) would move stray cats into shelter adoption streams more quickly, thereby reducing disease outbreak and enabling more cat lives to be saved by adoption. Dogs without ID would have a four day hold. Animal with identification would be held for 7 days and the ID traced. Shelters could count weekend days if open for animal reclaim.

Pet Friends Magazine has recently learned that there is actually no Michigan law requiring stray cats to be held at shelters – and no legally-mandated holding period for cats without I.D. although shelters have traditionally used the four day hold period as they do with dogs.

The Michigan Humane Society worked with MDARD (Mich. Dept. of Agriculture & Rural Development) as well as talking with ACOs at shelters, rescue groups and veterinarians when working on this legislation. They cite research coming out of UC-David Koret Shelter Medicine that shows a shorter hold time is critical in reducing URI outbreak and spread in shelters. They conclude that the faster they can get cats on the adoption floor, the faster they can be placed in homes and more cats in shelters can be saved overall.

According to Linda Reider, Director of Statewide Initiatives at the Michigan Humane Society, she thinks this is also a good time to bring cat ID issues to the attention of the community. Shelters have very low cat RTO numbers (returned to owner).

pets-returned

Only about 2% of stray cats are reclaimed by their owners in Michigan. Cat owners are urged to microchip their cats and also put tags and collars on them, especially if they are outside cats. The legislation says that ANY animal coming to a shelter with traceable ID must be held while the owner is contacted. The law makes tracing an animal with ID a proactive measure that shelters have to take, using all reasonable means to contact the animal’s owner.

If you’re wondering why stray hold legislation is together with breeding legislation in one bill, it is because both issues amend Act 287 of 1969 involving pet shops, dog pounds and animal shelters. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(gnkbwxu1ilplnr550fhq0jjd))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-Act-287-of-1969

On the other side of this issue is someone like Nathan Winograd, a leader in the no-kill movement, who says, “we should not shorten holding periods ever.” http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=6684

He believes that holding periods need to be longer – and smarter. He says “while shelters are, first and foremost, bailees for people’s lost companions, their goal should be to get all the animals out alive.” Longer hold times allow pets to be made available not only for families to reclaim them but also to be made available for adoption and for rescue groups to save them.

Although Reider believes that most shelters would use this law in a good way and adopt more animals out as a result of the legislation, there are also several, if not more than several, who will take this legislation as a green light to euthanize more animals – and to do it more quickly than they already do. It will be up to YOU in your communities to keep an eye on your shelters and what they are up to. You can, as a citizen, FOIA your county shelter and see what their intake and euthanasia numbers are. Keep an eye on them and if the legislation passes, keep an eye on whether these new laws have resulted in more or less cat euthanasias in the state of Michigan.

As for the dog breeding side of the bill, it would require breeders with more than 15 intact females to register with the MDARD and cap the number of female breeding dogs to 50. It also prohibits the breeders from selling puppies who are less than 8 weeks of age and requires vaccination, parasite treatment and health certification signed by a veterinarian. In addition, it requires annual statistical reporting and daily record-keeping.

In addition, the new legislation requires that pet stores, shelters and large-scale breeders who must euthanize animals do so humanely in accordance with state law and current American Veterinary Medical Association Guidelines. Those guidelines do not include gassing so this bill would finally put an end to that in our state.

Whether you are for or against this legislation, it is important that your voice be heard. You can find your Senator easily here: http://www.senate.michigan.gov/fysbyaddress.html  When you call or email, simply state that you are a voter from the Senator’s district, state your position on the newly-introduced SB 560, and ask that the Senator take your position.

To read the entire legislation, please click here: 2013-SIB-0560

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8 thoughts on “Recently Introduced Michigan Senate Bill 560 Would Have an Impact on Stray Hold Laws, Dog Breeders and the Gassing of Pets by Shelters

  1. overnightpettags October 4, 2013 at 8:20 pm Reply

    Its good to see the state pushing for a holding period for cats.

  2. Linda Reider October 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm Reply

    Such a shame to see that Winograd is opposing getting more cats adopted in Michigan! He clearly misses the point that shorter holds speed cats to adoption, while longer holds have been proven to cause disease outbreak and therefore lead to more euthanasia. Cat reclaim is simply not a significant factor anywhere in the U.S., including in Michigan. We need more imaginative thinking than he brings to the table.

    • Carrie McGowan December 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm Reply

      Our shelters are not designed to house cats. Cats get stressed because they do not have an environment that works for them. Being stressed in a poor environment is what leads to stress and illness. Shorter hold times won’t change anything except allow shelters to kill sooner. We won’t save more cats until we provide them what they need to be comfortable…regardless of time. We should be looking at shelters like the Humane Society of Huron Valley that is designed to house cats, house them long term, is a large open admission shelter with almost no URI’s in their cat population and an 87% save rate.

    • Talon Thunderclan February 22, 2014 at 8:57 pm Reply

      Shorter stray holds for cats also means they become MHS property more quickly and can also be euth’ed sooner. The first part of this law regulating breeders is good, but I suspect the second half shortening stray holds is being snuck in under the main “header”. This is not a good proposal. Even if the “intent” of MHS is to get cats up for adoption more quickly, there is no guarantee that other shelters will follow suit. Simply means they can kill more quickly, do it legally and therefore theoretically avoid public criticism. MHS claims they want this to prevent cats from getting URI yet their adoption centers show many cats are there a long period of time without getting URI. The average cat does not do well in any shelter situations altho certainly the most social of cats fare better. HSHV needs to be imitated it seems; and all shelters need to push for more foster homes for their cats.

  3. Carrie McGowan December 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm Reply

    MHS website says:
    http://www.michiganhumane.org/site/News2

    The bill also clarifies stray animal holding periods for animal shelters. Currently, there is no legally mandated stray-hold period for cats, though the general practice is to hold them four days.

    Yet when searching I the dog law I found:

    http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stusmist287_261_395.htm
    287.388 Disposition of dogs or cats; time; notice; record; exceptions.

    Sec. 8. A dealer, a county, city, village, or township operating a dog pound or animal shelter shall not sell or otherwise dispose of a dog or CAT within 4 days after its acquisition. If the dog or cat has a collar, license, or other evidence of ownership, the operator of the pound or shelter shall notify the owner in writing and disposition of the animal shall not be made within 7 days from the date of mailing the notice. Each operator of a pound or shelter shall be required to maintain a record on each identifiable dog or cat acquired, indicating a basic description of the animal, the date it was acquired and under what circumstances. The record shall also indicate the date of notice sent to the owner of an animal and subsequent disposition.

    History: 1969, Act 224, Eff. Mar. 20, 1970;–Am. 1973, Act 31, Imd. Eff. June 14, 1973;–Am. 1974, Act 132, Imd. Eff. May 29, 1974.

    We don’t need shorter stray hold times for cats….we need longer stray holds so we can increase the number of cats returned to their owners (2% Nationwide average). Shelters do NOT need more cats in the adoption pool, they are not successful getting them adopted (less than 50% at most shelters and 30% at MHS).

  4. Sabina Prevo December 1, 2013 at 8:49 pm Reply

    This bill will allow less time for cats in shelters to find their homes. It will allow the ACO’s to euthanize sooner than later

  5. Paws for Life Rescue December 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm Reply

    Shelters in Michigan are already using this bill as an excuse to kill cats immediately upon intake. The current language on cat holds is a step backward, not forward.

    “Pet Friends Magazine has recently learned that there is actually no Michigan law requiring stray cats to be held at shelters …”

    This is not true. Cat hold times are included in the dog law.

  6. Paws for Life Rescue December 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm Reply

    “Sixty percent of all cats who enter our nation’s shelters fall victim to their needles. If the shelters that claim to want to eliminate holding periods for cats so that they can adopt them more quickly were sincere, they wouldn’t already be killing cats and claiming to do so for ‘lack of homes.'”

    Great clarification is here: http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=13776

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