Animal tracking bill nears House floor

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A bill by freshman Representative Travis Cummings will provide for more accurate and detailed tracking of unwanted euthanized, sterilized and unwanted animals – a measure supported by animal activists and the Florida Veterinary Medical Association.

Under HB 997, animal shelters and pet agencies receiving public money would be required to keep records of the total numbers of cats and dogs taken in, along with the disposition of each animal, such as whether the animal left the shelter via adoption, reclamation by owner, death in kennel, euthanasia, transfer to another shelter, or released as part of a “trap, neuter and release” program.  These records would be kept for a minimum of three years, and would be made available for public inspection on a monthly basis.

Further, this bill would require shelters to provide a written statement if its policy is to routinely euthanize animals based upon size or breed.  According to the US Humane Society, animal shelters care for between 6-8 million dogs and cats every year, of which about half are euthanized due to health or behavioral issues, or lack of space.

“We have not seen any opposition – as a matter of fact a lot of support – from the various shelters and rescue organizations,” said Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, the sponsor of the bill.

Animal activists feel that this information will assist policymakers in understanding the current state of shelters and rescue animals, as little or no data is currently kept or made available.

The measure was  unanimously approved by the Local and Federal Affairs Subcommittee on Thursday and has one more stop before the House floor.