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Citizen Lobbyists Rally at Indiana Capitol Urging Lawmakers to Pass Slate of Animal Protection Laws

The Humane Society of the United States

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 200 citizens from across the Hoosier State will descend on the state capitol and meet with their lawmakers today to urge them to pass a series of animal protections bills before them this session. The citizen lobbyists are participating in Humane Lobby Day, which is organized by The Humane Society of the United States, with participation from local shelters, rescues and animal groups from across the state.

The animal protection bills before the legislature in 2009 are:

  • S.B. 23 makes being a spectator at an animal fight a Class C felony; 
  • H.B. 1468 increases penalties for a wide array of animal neglect and abuse issues and would regulate breeders by capping the total number of dogs they could own and require them to provide their animals with certain standards of care.

Besides the bills that The HSUS is supporting, a bill that would allow the cruel practice of canned hunting has been introduced, and The HSUS is leading the fight against this measure. H.B. 1683 would pave the way for the licensing and operation of canned hunts.

Canned hunts are held at private trophy hunting facilities where hunters pay to kill tame, captive, exotic animals — even endangered species — as guaranteed trophies, since the animals have no chance of escape. Animals on canned hunts often come from private breeders, animal dealers, and even zoos and circuses. Frequently, the animals have been hand-raised and bottle-fed, so they have lost their fear of people. Canned hunts of captive animals are generally reviled by the hunting community in Indiana and nationwide for violating the principle of fair chase.

Puppy mills are breeding facilities that mass-produce puppies for sale in pet stores and over the internet. Puppy mills commonly house animals in overcrowded, filthy and inhumane conditions with inadequate shelter and care. H.B. 1468, introduced by Reps. Linda Lawson (D-1) and Jackie Walorski (R- 21), contains amendments that would prevent mass producing dog breeders from maintaining more than 20 unaltered dogs older than one-year, require annual veterinary examinations and only allow veterinarians to perform surgery or euthanasia. Additionally, breeding dogs must have exercise outside their cages for an hour a day and female dogs are only allowed to whelp one litter per year.

The citizen lobbyists will also be encouraging their legislators to support S.B. 23, introduced by Sen. Jim Arnold (D-8), which would make being a spectator at an animal fight a Class C felony. Spectators of animal fights are willing participants in this crime, and also perpetuate it by paying admission fees and wagering on the fights.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to speak out on behalf of the animals, and a great way for them to start developing relationships with their elected officials," said Anne Sterling, Indiana state director for The Humane Society of the United States. "The support of local advocates is crucial to our efforts to improve the lives of animals in Indiana."

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.

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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.