Regulated Hunting: The Preferred Wildlife Management Strategy?June 9, 2023
Homeless Animals in the Post-COVID EraJune 9, 2023
By Macie Codina
HB 941/SB 942: Authorization of Restrictions Concerning Dogs
SB 942 makes changes to Florida’s “Dangerous Dogs” law. Currently, a county or municipality may address safety and welfare concerns caused by attacks on persons or domestic animals by dogs by ordinance as long as such ordinance is not breed specific. The bill adds weight and size as prohibited ordinance topics in addition to breed. The bill also incorporates public housing authorities into the statute, authorizing a public housing authority to enact policies pertaining to dangerous dogs, but such policy may not be specific to breed, size, or weight. This change effectively nullifies any existing restrictions imposed by public housing authorities pertaining to specific breeds and sizes of dogs on housing authority property. Finally, the bill removes the grandfather provision in the statute that allowed local governments to enforce breed-specific regulations if the ordinance enacting such regulations was adopted before October 1, 1990. This change effectively nullifies Miami-Dade County’s and the City of Sunrise’s existing regulations and restrictions on owners of “pit bull dogs.” The bill takes effect October 1, 2023. SB 942 has been ordered enrolled and awaits Governor DeSantis’s approval.
HB 719: Practice of Veterinary Medicine
This bill allows for out-of-state veterinarians who have an active license and are in good standing to perform dog or cat sterilization services, and routine preventative health services at the time of sterilization, under the supervision of a Florida certified veterinarian if they are acting as an unpaid volunteer. HB 719 942 has been ordered enrolled and awaits Governor DeSantis’s approval.
HJR 1157: Fishing and Hunting
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) proposed the creation of Section 28 of Article I of the Florida Constitution, as follows:
Fishing, hunting, and the taking of fish and wildlife.—Fishing, hunting, and the taking of fish and wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, shall be preserved forever as a public right and preferred means of responsibly managing and controlling fish and wildlife. This section does not limit the authority granted to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission under Section 9 of Article IV.
Animal advocates spoke out in opposition of this amendment, arguing it creates a blanket statement that no matter the species and no matter the situation, hunting is always the best way to manage and control wildlife. Animal advocates also believe that this amendment was proposed to justify future black bear hunts, which are currently on the table for the FWC. This amendment has been ordered enrolled.
HB 849/SB 800: Retail Sale of Domestic Dogs and Cats
HB 849 would have prohibited pet stores from selling or offering for sale domestic dogs and cats. The bill would have also made the sale of a domestic dog or cat a noncriminal violation, punishable by a $500 fine for each separate offense. The purpose of these bills was to promote the adoption of animals in shelters and humane societies and prevent the sale of dogs and cats from animal mills. These bills died in committee.
HB 989/SB 1006: Authorization of Courtroom Animal Advocates
In a proceeding regarding the welfare or custody of a cat or dog, HB 989 would have allowed the court to appoint a separate advocate to represent the interests of justice. Under these bills, an advocate would be able to monitor the case, consult with any individuals who may have information that could aid the finder of fact, review records relating to the condition of the animal and the defendant’s actions, attend hearings, and present information and recommendations to the court. This bill would have allowed advocates to serve on a voluntary basis if they were an attorney or a law student with a CLI. This bill would have greatly benefited animals in animal abuse cases and other cases involving harm to animals, as these types of cases often go unheard and unprosecuted. Unfortunately, these bills died in committee.
HB 381 would have prohibited the manufacturing, importing, selling, or offering for sale of cosmetic products developed or manufactured using cosmetic animal testing. These bills would have also prohibited the conducting of animal testing or contracting by the manufacturer or any supplier of the manufacturer for the conduction of animal testing. While this bill seems like a great step towards fighting animal cosmetic testing, these bills had broad sweeping exceptions, allowing for a majority of cosmetic animal testing to continue. Alternatively, these bills would have required all products tested on animals to have a
legibly printed label on the packaging which read: “This product or an ingredient used in the formulation of this product has been tested on animals.” Ultimately, both versions of the bill died in committee.
Author Macie Codina is an associate attorney with the Guilday Law firm in Tallahassee, Florida. She is a member of the Animal Law Section’s executive council.