March 26, 2009
Delaware Citizen Advocates and Lawmakers Converge to Protect Animals
DOVER, Del. — Citizens from across Delaware will assemble Thursday to meet with lawmakers for Humane Lobby Day. The event is organized by The Humane Society of the United States to connect citizen lobbyists with lawmakers to support and encourage animal welfare legislation. Participants will focus their efforts on encouraging lawmakers to create legislation needed to protect Delaware's animals.
"Delaware lawmakers will have the opportunity to pass much-needed animal protection laws this session," said Tami Santelli, The HSUS' director of state legislation. "Humane Lobby Day is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to speak out on behalf of the animals and start developing relationships with elected officials."
Rep. Melanie George Marshall, D-5, Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-15, and Sen. Patricia Blevins, D-7, held a press conference Thursday detailing new animal protection legislation that will strengthen protections for dogs at abusive puppy mills, implement basic welfare standards for dogs, and strengthen laws against animal fighting.
"How we treat animals in our community is reflective of how we treat one another," said Sen. Blevins. "The legislation I plan to introduce will address some of the animal cruelties that go on in Delaware every day and will alleviate some of the suffering that we all should find appalling."
Puppy mills are breeding facilities that mass produce puppies for sale in pet stores, over the Internet and directly to consumers. Puppy mills commonly house animals in overcrowded, filthy and inhumane conditions with inadequate shelter and care.
Lawmakers are proposing legislation to place a cap on the number of breeding dogs that can be kept at one time, which would help curb abuses at the largest breeding facilities. Another proposed bill would ban some of the most inhumane housing practices by prohibiting the stacking of wire cages. These bills will not affect responsible hobby breeders.
Louisiana and Virginia passed strong puppy mill laws last year limiting the size of breeding facilities, and this important legislation will help to curb puppy mill abuses in Delaware — as well as preventing puppy mills from setting up shop in Delaware in the future.
Dogs are naturally social beings that thrive on interaction with human beings and other animals. A dog who is kept chained in one spot for hours, days, months, or even years suffers immense psychological damage. Tethered dogs can also become incredibly aggressive. Delaware lawmakers are proposing legislation to prohibit the continuous chaining of dogs, and to establish minimal exercise requirements for dogs that spend the majority of the day in cages.
"I am so pleased and inspired to be here with these Delaware animal advocates who came from all over the state to support animal protection legislation," said Rep. Marshall. "I am proud to sponsor legislation this session to restrict the cruel tethering of dogs and to help crack down on puppy mills and look forward to working with these advocates to pass this important bill."
Strong animal fighting laws help prevent animal cruelty and protect the public. Animal fighting is a cruel activity in which animals are pitted against each other to fight to the death for entertainment and gambling. In addition to being inhumane to animals, animal fights are often associated with other illegal activities, such as drugs, weapons and illegal gambling. New legislation in Delaware (H.B. 2) would increase the penalties for participating in an animal fight or attending an animal fight. A separate bill, S.B. 21, would impose a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 6 months for people convicted of animal fighting.
"On this Delaware Humane Lobby Day, I am pleased to join with Rep. Marshall and Sen. Blevins to announce a package of important animal protection legislation for this session," said Rep. Longhurst. "We look forward to collaborating with The Humane Society of the United States and Delaware animal protection organizations to advance this agenda for the animals."
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.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. 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.