2017 Florida Legislative Session
The best way to show legislators that animal protection is an important issue is for animal advocates to communicate with their elected officials. Legislators do care what constituents (voters) think about issues. After all, elected officials generally want to be re-elected, and that means adequately addressing matters important to their constituents.
Please contact your state senator and state representative, let them know you are a constituent and ask them to support the bills described here (you may want to address only one bill or issue in each letter or phone call).
Are you confused by the legislative process? Click to learn How an Idea Becomes a Law.
May 5 is the last day of the 2017 Legislative Session.
Florida black bears (SB 1304 and HB 491)
Senate Bill 1304, introduced by Senator Linda Stewart, and House Bill 491, introduced by Representative Amy Mercado, would protect Florida black bears. Among the many provisions in the legislation is a moratorium on the hunting of bears until 2027, and the appropriation of $1 million to help local governments purchase bear-resistant garbage containers.
Greyhound racing (SB 512 and HB 743)
Senate Bill 512, introduced by Senator Dana Young, and House Bill 743, introduced by Representatives Carlos Guillermo Smith and Alex Miller, would explicitly ban the use of anabolic steroids on greyhound racing dogs.
Anabolic steroids, often given to greyhounds to enhance performance, can cause long-term harm to the animals’ health.
ARFF is hopeful that 2017 will be the year that legislation will pass to remove the requirement that dog tracks conduct live racing in order to also offer slots or poker. If passed, dog tracks in Florida would almost certainly choose to reduce or end live racing to focus on more profitable forms of gambling. There is wide support for “decoupling” among operators of dog tracks and among Floridians concerned about the welfare of racing greyhounds.
Decoupling will be considered as part of a larger gambling bill, not as a separate measure. Please contact your state legislators and urge them to support decoupling greyhound racing from other forms of gambling.
Animal hoarding (SB 212)
Senate Bill 212, introduced by Senator Greg Steube, would create a legal definition of “animal hoarding” and establish the crime of animal hoarding. In addition, a person convicted of animal hoarding would be required to undergo mental health counseling. Animal hoarding is a widespread problem in Florida, affecting hundreds of animals each year. ARFF has reviewed close to 150 reports of animal hoarding in the news media over the past 10 years; during that time there were cases of animal hoarding in 41 of Florida’s 67 counties. A summary of the cases can be found here.
Animal hoarding is a complex problem. Criminal charges and psychological counseling may only be part of the solution, but ARFF supports this legislation that would help to reduce reoffending by hoarders.
Compensatory damages for injury or death of a pet (SB 1270 and HB 1067)
Senate Bill 1270, introduced by Senator Dana Young, and House Bill 1067, introduced by Representative Jared Moskowitz, would allow people to seek emotional damages in the event of the wrongful injury or death of a pet. Currently, under Florida law animals are viewed as personal property. It is difficult to recover damages beyond the market value of the animal. Of course, dogs and cats are much more than an item of property!
“Under current Florida law, our pets are treated as property, like a piece of furniture that can be easily replaced. As a dog owner, I know that pets mean so much more — they become a part of the family and form deep bonds with their owners. Through this bill, we recognize this special relationship and provide pet owners with a means of recourse in instances where their pet is hurt or killed through gross negligence.”
– Senator Dana Young
Local regulation preemption (SB 1158 and HB 17)
House Bill 17, introduced by Representative Randy Fine, and Senate Bill 1158, introduced by Senator Kathleen Passidomo, are far-reaching bills that would prohibit local governments from adopting regulations on a business, profession, or occupation. If enacted, this legislation would overturn existing ordinances in close to 50 cities and counties in Florida that ban the sale of dogs and cats at pet stores (unless the animals are from animal shelters/rescue groups).
Please ask your state senator and state representative to OPPOSE this legislation.
You Can Help
Have you ever spoken to your state senator or state representative? Whether you meet in person or speak on the phone, you could urge your state legislators to support a specific proposal, or simply let them know how important the issue of animal protection is to you.
Click here to find your elected officials.
To win victories for animals, ARFF will need your help during the legislative session. Click here to be added to ARFF’s email list to receive legislative alerts and updates.
Animal Rights Foundation of Florida
1431 N Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Promoting respect and compassion for animals in Florida has been the mission of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida since 1989.
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.