February 10, 2009
Animal Advocates Rally at Georgia Capitol Urging Lawmakers to Protect Animals
ATLANTA — Dozens of citizens from across the Peach State will assemble at the state capitol and meet with their lawmakers Tuesday to urge them to pass legislation to protect animals. The citizen lobbyists are participating in Humane Lobby Day organized by The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization.
Rep. Jim Cole (R-125), Gov. Sonny Perdue's Senior Administrative Floor Leader, will deliver remarks at a morning legislative briefing at the Fulton County Government Center. Afterwards, participants will gather at the Capitol building to meet with their lawmakers. Joining HSUS members and humane advocates will be a group of International Baccalaureate students from West Hall High School in Hall County, who will also be participating and meeting with their legislators.
"Georgia's legislators will have a strong slate of animal protection bills to consider this session, and The HSUS would like to commend the sponsors of these measures," said Cheryl McAuliffe, The HSUS' Georgia state director. "But the real importance of today's event is that dozens of Georgians from across the state will be here to act as humane advocates face to face with their legislators."
McAuliffe will also be presenting state Sen. Chip Rogers (R-21) with a Humane State Legislator Award. Sen. Rogers is being honored for helping pass H.B. 301 last legislative session, which makes it a felony to own, possess, sell, buy, train or breed dogs for the purpose of fighting, and makes it illegal to be a spectator at a dogfight and to bring a minor to a dogfight. Sen. Rogers also received a Humane State Legislator Award in 2006.
Citizen lobbyists are asking lawmakers to pass legislation to address the problem of cockfighting. While actually participating in a cockfight in Georgia is a felony, possessing birds for fighting and being a spectator at a cockfight are legal, just as was the case with dog fighting before the General Assembly rectified that problem in 2008.
H.B. 109, sponsored by Rep. Bob Bryant (D-160), closes these loopholes and gives law enforcement officers and prosecutors the necessary tools to arrest, prosecute and convict those who intentionally involve themselves in cockfighting. H.B. 109 would specifically make cockfighting, owning, possessing or training birds for fighting, and allowing a premises to be used for cockfighting, felony offenses. It also would make being a spectator at a cockfight an aggravated misdemeanor.
Antifreeze Safety Legislation
Hundreds of children and thousands of animals — including companion animals and endangered species — are accidentally poisoned each year from ingesting antifreeze. In fact, one survey estimates that 10,000 dogs and cats are poisoned by antifreeze ingestion each year. Its sweet taste attracts them, but less than a teaspoonful can be fatal.
H.B. 219, sponsored by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-31), would require the addition of denatonium benzoate, the world's bitterest known substance, to engine coolant/antifreeze that is more than 10 percent ethylene glycol in order to render it unpalatable. This legislation will help save countless animal lives and reduce the number of childhood emergencies and deaths.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers, the American Medical Association, the National Safety Council and the American Journal of Public Health all recommend adding an aversive agent to antifreeze.
Pet Protective Orders
Legislation expected to be introduced this week by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-41) will include pets in protective orders in domestic violence cases to protect both animals and families. A cherished pet is often an easy "target" for an abuser with which to maintain control. For some victims of abuse, their pet might be the only positive connection in their life.
The need to include protections for pets in domestic violence cases has been recognized by several states. Maine was the first state to address this by passing legislation to allow pets to be included in protection orders. Since then, ten additional states have passed pet protection laws, including Louisiana, Tennessee, Connecticut, Colorado, California, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, New York and Vermont.
Last year, state legislatures across the country passed 93 new laws for animals. The HSUS works with animal advocates and state legislators across the country to enact laws protecting animals from cruelty, combating animal fighting, halting wildlife abuse and more. Forty-one states are hosting Humane Lobby Days in February, March and April 2009.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.