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).
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