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February 25, 2010

Maine Animal Advocates Lobby for Stronger Cruelty Laws

Maine citizens participating in Humane Lobby Day 2010 are meeting with state legislators at the State House in Augusta today to rally in support of stronger animal cruelty laws. Humane Lobby Day is sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States and Maine Friends of Animals.

Citizen lobbyists will assemble at the state capitol to lobby for the passage of LD 1598, sponsored by Sen. Deborah Simpson, D-Auburn, which provides for a felony upgrade on animal cruelty cases involving 25 animals or more.

"Maine's animal protection laws are ranked as some of the best in the country," said Katie Lisnik, The HSUS' Maine state director. "However, Maine prosecutors have identified a need for stronger laws regarding large-scale cruelty cases. Instead of prosecuting multiple misdemeanors, prosecutors want the tools to pursue felony level convictions."

The day starts at 9:30 a.m., at the Hill Mansion, followed by legislator visits at the State House and a 2 p.m. award presentation in the Hall of Flags. Sen. John Nutting, D-Leeds, will be receiving a Humane State Legislator award for his outstanding work on animal welfare bills in 2009. The Spay Day 2010 Resolution, which Nutting sponsored, is before the Senate today, and will highlight the importance of spaying and neutering our companion animals and encourage Maine veterinarians to help citizens get their pets sterilized.

Nutting received the award for his active leadership as the bill sponsor and work as the Senate Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to pass LD 1021 this session. The bill phases out the confinement of breeding pigs and veal calves in small crates and cages in which the animals can barely move. Thanks to his efforts, a diverse group of stakeholders reached consensus on the bill, and Maine enacted a strong public policy that will help protect farmers, food safety, the environment and animal welfare.

Nutting has long been a leader on animal welfare issues and also supported companion animals this session as the sponsor of a bill to establish a pet-friendly license plate with proceeds to benefit animal cruelty investigation and low-income spay/neuter efforts. 

"I've always attempted to run my farm in a way that is animal welfare-friendly," said Nutting, a longtime dairy farmer. "The farm is always open to the public. This has affected my legislative position on all animal welfare bills."

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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. 

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