SB 569 was filed by state Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and others for consideration in the 2018 Legislature. The bill was written in response to an animal cruelty case involving a Wolfeboro breeder of Great Danes.
Christina Fay was charged and ultimately convicted of 10 counts of animal cruelty and neglect in the care of almost 100 Great Danes at her Wolfeboro home. She is appealing the conviction. The judge found she “did not provide proper care, substance or shelter” for the animals, who were seized and handed over to the New Hampshire Humane Society.
Her widely-publicized case prompted lawmakers to review standards of care for dog breeders.
Current breeder regulations
Current New Hampshire law requires a license only if a breeder transfers 10 or more litters or 50 or more puppies in any 12-month period.
The law also requires proof that the facility conforms to local zoning requirements and mandates the need for a “clean and sanitary” facility that is subject to unannounced inspections.
Proposed breeder regulations in SB 569
Bradley’s proposed bill, SB 569, broadens the definition of a commercial breeder to include anyone who owns five or more female breeding dogs.
The bill also provides that a license for a breeder would be issued only after prior inspection of the facility, and it requires that the agriculture department do a background check of the individual to ensure the person has not been convicted of cruelty to animals in the state of New Hampshire or any other state.
Costs of care during animal cruelty cases
The issue of the cost of caring for animals confiscated during cruelty cases has also generated controversy in New Hampshire.
Veterinary and kennelling costs for confiscated animals can amount to thousands of dollars. Under current New Hampshire law, the animal’s owner is only charged for that care if he or she is convicted of animal cruelty. That means the costs of care are often picked up by towns, or absorbed by vets or humane societies.
If SB 569 passes, it would require the animal’s owner to post a bond for the costs of care upfront, while a cruelty case is being heard.
Owners who are unwilling or unable to pay for care could lose the animal, which may then be adopted out to another home.
Arguments for and against SB 569
Proponents say SB 569 will better protect animals in what is now a largely unregulated environment, and they say the rigorous licensing process will add legitimacy to breeders and the animals they sell. They also argue that it is unfair that the costs of caring for confiscated animals should fall on towns or humane societies and support requiring owners to post a bond to cover the tab.
Opponents say the provisions constitute regulatory overreach. They also note the additional regulation will cost the state roughly $400,000 to enforce each year.
Others argue that charging an owner for the costs of caring for an animals is unfair, if he or she hasn’t yet been convicted of cruelty. They also express concern that the ‘costs of care’ provision will disproportionately impact lower-income individuals.
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