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July 2, 2009

The HSUS Celebrates Oregon Legislative Victories for Animals

Bills Will Increase Protections for Dogs, Horses and Other Animals

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Oregon state legislature for passing four significant animal protection bills during the recently concluded session.

"Animals have some real champions in the Oregon legislature," said senior state director Scott Beckstead. "We are very fortunate to have lawmakers who take humane values seriously, as well as people all over the state who demand that their elected officials take concrete steps to protect animals with stronger and more effective laws."

Puppy Mills

Man's best friend won a major victory with the passage of H.B. 2470, which cracks down on puppy mills. These large-scale, commercial dog breeding operations typically keep dogs in warehouse conditions, where they are treated as a cash crop, not lifetime companions. H.B. 2470 requires breeders to provide dogs with enclosures that are not stacked, have solid floors and are cleaned daily. Dogs must also have at least one hour of exercise every day.

The bill limits breeders to 50 breeding dogs and provides recourse for buyers who buy a puppy with known health problems. The bill also requires pet shops to inform consumers about the origin of the dogs they sell. Carefully crafted to exempt responsible breeders, this new law may be hailed as one of the nation's toughest, most comprehensive puppy mill laws.

Exotic Pets

S.B. 391 phases out the private ownership of exotic animals such as lions, tigers, chimpanzees and alligators as pets. Too often, people obtain these animals with little understanding of their needs and little ability to care for them. Consequently, the animals suffer and may escape, with potentially disastrous consequences. By prohibiting these animals as pets the legislature took an important step to protect both public safety and the welfare of exotic animals.

Horses

Sending a clear message that equine abandonment will not be tolerated in the state of Oregon, S.B. 398 adds horses to the existing animal abandonment statute, making it a misdemeanor to abandon an equine. People who can no longer care for their horses have many options available to them, including selling the horse to another qualified owner, leasing the horse to another horse enthusiast, relinquishing the horse to a rescue or retirement facility, or if no other option is feasible, humanely euthanizing the horse. Abandonment and neglect is never an acceptable option for a horse.

Cockfighting

S.B. 280 closes an important loophole in Oregon's cockfighting statutes by making it a felony to be a spectator at one of these bloody spectacles. This measure enjoyed the strong support of law enforcement, giving prosecutors an important tool to crack down on cockfighting. In addition to the cruelty of forcing roosters to fight to the death, cockfighting operations are typically associated with drugs, guns and violent crime.

Animal-Unfriendly Provisions Defeated

Lawmakers also stood up for animals by making sure undesirable amendments were stopped.

Hunters unsuccessfully tried to add an amendment to an anti-poaching bill, H.B. 3089, stating that if Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Commission decided to close any of its lands to sport hunting, an equal amount would have to be opened to hunting elsewhere. The HSUS worked with key legislators to defeat the amendment. Hunters already have broad access to Oregon's public lands, and lawmakers agreed that the amendment would unfairly favor sport hunters over those who choose to enjoy wildlife without a gun. The overall bill passed and will increase penalties for poaching.

In another action, the HSUS strongly objected to a provision of H.B. 2221 sponsored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It would have penalized landowners if they failed or refused to kill wild pigs on their property. The HSUS, which operates an 1,120-acre animal sanctuary in Oregon, brought its concerns to the attention of the bill's sponsor and alerted key lawmakers, and this provision was removed.

Sponsors

S.B. 280 was sponsored by Senate President Peter Courtney, D-11.

S.B. 391 was sponsored by Sens. Mark Hass, D-14; Brian Boquist, D-23; and Reps. Vicki Berger, R-20; Scott Bruun, R-37; Bill Garrard, R-56; Mike Schaufler, D-48; Brad Witt, D-31; and Arnie Roblan, D-9.

S.B. 398 was sponsored by Sens. Floyd Prozanski, D-4; Joanne Verger, D-5; Vicki Walker, D-7; and Reps. Jeff Barker, D-28; Vicki Berger, R-20; Jean Cowan, D-10; Vic Gilliam, R-18; Arnie Roblan, D-9; Kim Thatcher, R-25; and Suzanne VanOrman, D-52.

H.B. 2470 was sponsored by Reps. Paul Holvey, D-8; Sara Gelser, D-16; Peter Buckley, D-5; Jean Cowan, D-10; Larry Galizio, D-35; Greg Matthews, D-50; Mike Schaufler, D-48; Brad Witt, D-31; and Sens. Peter Courtney, D-11; Vicki Walker, D-7; and Floyd Prozanski, D-4.

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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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