NCVAW Legislative Update
As usual, it has been a struggle to get anywhere with animal welfare in NC this year. In 2017, the NC General Assembly has a long session where new bills can be introduced. After years of disappointment, NCVAW had high hopes for some advancement, but the majority of our legislators continue to ignore their constituents.
The bad news first – NCVAW tried very hard to have a bill introduced this session to add a clear definition for ‘adequate shelter’ and ‘adequate sustenance’ to no avail. Without naming any particular legislator, let’s just say it was extremely disappointing for a bill not to be drafted before the deadline, after working together for 3 months to do so. We desperately need clarification on both so that animals do not suffer in our state. The current law is far too vague.
Sadly, NCVAW has been informed by a few legislators that the puppy mill bill (HB 179) is not going anywhere either and will not this session. Of course that could change, but that is the status as of now. With the current leadership, it will likely never happen, so remember that whenever you vote.
The semi-good news – NCVAW was able to make strides for animals on one bill. Senate Bill 292 (Ordinance Violation Not a Misdemeanor) was introduced March 16 by Senator Lee, Sen. Jeff Jackson and Sen. Britt. In a nutshell, if passed as first written, if someone violated any county ordinance, the county could not automatically charge the violator with a misdemeanor if the state law did not already consider that violation a misdemeanor. NCVAW contacted Sen. Jeff Jackson and expressed concerns on how that would affect animal ordinances. Some counties have stronger violations for animal offenses than the state does, so changing that would be a big step backwards for animals. Fortunately, the bill was rewritten and now only applies to certain violations and no longer includes all violations!