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April 2, 2009

Floridians Urge Lawmakers to Protect Animals

The Humane Society of the United States

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Citizens from across Florida will assemble today to meet with lawmakers to urge them to protect animals as part of 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 pass legislation to strengthen protections for dogs at abusive puppy mills and prohibit sexual crimes against animals.

Puppy Mills

Puppy mills are mass dog producing facilities that keep animals in cages or kennels, often in squalid conditions with little or no exercise, socialization or human interaction. Dogs from puppy mills are usually sold in pet stores, online and directly to consumers with little to no regard for the dog's health or genetic history.

Currently, Florida does not have any state laws to regulate puppy mills. The new legislation (H.B. 1249/S.B. 2002) would place a cap of 50 on the number of dogs that can be kept at one production facility. The bill would also establish cage size, sanitation and exercise requirements along with appropriate access to food, water and necessary veterinary care. This legislation would not affect responsible breeders who already raise animals humanely, but will stop the worst abuses at large-scale puppy mills.

Several states passed puppy mill laws last year, and this important legislation will help to curb puppy mill abuses in Florida – as well as preventing puppy mills from setting up shop in Florida in the future.

Bestiality

Florida does not have laws prohibiting bestiality. A 2002 study found that 96 percent of juveniles who had sexual conduct with animals also admitted to sex offenses against humans. The FBI says serial sexual homicide perpetrators commonly sexually assault animals.

New legislation (S.B. 448/H.B. 273) would prohibit a person from knowingly engaging in, causing or permitting certain sexual conduct or contact with animals. Thirty-four states have laws prohibiting bestiality and 21 states consider bestiality a felony offense.

"The legislation that's being introduced will address some of the animal cruelties that go on in Florida every day and will alleviate some of the suffering that we all should find appalling," said Laura Bevan, director of the eastern regional office for The Humane Society of the United States. "How we treat animals is a reflection of our state. Florida must do better."

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.

Find out more about Florida's Humane Lobby Day.

Visit the following to learn more about puppy mills and animal cruelty.

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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 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.

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