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Paw Law

posted October 6th, 2014 by
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Paw Law

Dani Weaver / President, Paw Law

This year, Oklahoma legislators will consider two new proposals that will greatly impact animal welfare in our state. House Bills 2553 and 2764 were introduced to our representatives earlier in the year and are currently up for vote. It is imperative that we contact our legislators and voice our support for these two measures.

Oklahoma HB 2553 would mandate an animal abuse registry in Oklahoma, requiring any person over the age of 18 who has been convicted of a felony animal cruelty violation, specifically §1680-1700 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes, to register with the sheriff of the county in which he or she lives. Registration would be required each year for 15 years and would include those individuals who have been convicted of similar crimes in other states who move to Oklahoma.

During that 15-year period of registration, the animal abuser cannot have any animal in his or her care, custody, control or management.This registry would be maintained by each county sheriff and would be public knowledge.

Suffolk County, New York, was the first community to pass an animal abuse registry in 2010, and since then, many have followed in their footsteps. A registry would help Oklahoma prevent animal abuse as well as other crimes which are closely related to animal abuse.

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people and four times more likely to commit property crimes than those who do not have a history of animal abuse. In addition, the recidivism rate in animal abuse is extremely high, and in some types of abuse, like animal hoarding, it is nearly 100 percent.

Implementing an animal abuse registry would give our law enforcement officers and animal welfare advocates a way to keep these abusers away from animals that may become future victims and may help to reduce other potential crimes in our communities.

SB1729 would prohibit the use of carbon monoxide gas chambers for animal euthanasia. This bill applies to any dog, cat or other animal kept for pleasure rather than utility, in any household, animal shelter or agency.

The language of the bill allows for euthanasia by any method approved by the Animal Industries Services Division of the State Department of Agriculture other than curariform derivative drugs and carbon monoxide chambers.

It specifies measures that must be taken to ensure that euthanasia of the animal is humane and physically safe for the personnel responsible for euthanizing. Some counties in Oklahoma still use carbon monoxide gas chambers, and this law would prohibit that practice across the state.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, all inhaled methods of euthanasia have the potential to negatively affect the animal. This is because the onset of unconsciousness is not immediate. There is concern among professionals that too many variables are involved with delivering carbon monoxide euthanasia to ensure that the animal does not experience pain and suffering.

Often the animal does not lose consciousness for 45 to 60 seconds, and research suggests that many are in distress during this time. In addition, standard procedures used for administration of gas are not uniformly effective for kittens and puppies, older animals or those that have physical impairments. More detailed information on this process can be found in the 2013 Edition of the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals.

While it is disheartening for us to be forced to choose a method of euthanasia, until we get animal population under control, there is no alternative. For now, the most compassionate choice available is to make sure that the method and process of euthanizing animals is done in    the most humane way possible to prevent any suffering  or distress that the animal may experience in those last moments.

As Oklahomans, we have a responsibility to live up to our reputation as kind, caring people, and we can do that by speaking out for those who have no voice. Please contact your legislatures and show support for these measures. Go to www.oklegislature.gov to find your legislators and their contact information.