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May 18, 2010

Bill to Prevent Antifreeze Poisoning Becomes Law in Wisconsin

Becomes 12th state to adopt safety measure

The Humane Society of the United States

MADISON, Wis. — The Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of its 225,000 supporters in the Badger State, and the Humane Society Legislative Fund thank Gov. Jim Doyle and the Wisconsin State Legislature for approving a measure that will save countless animal lives. 

Introduced in the Assembly by Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, and the Senate by Sen. Jeff Plale, D-Milwaukee, the new law requires the addition of a bitter flavor agent to antifreeze and engine coolant, in order to prevent animals and children from being poisoned by the sweet-tasting liquid. Poisoning occurs because animals are attracted to the sweetness of antifreeze and engine coolant, which inadvertently spills in our driveways or is left in open containers in garages.

"We're very grateful that the Wisconsin Legislature has passed this important piece of legislation which will help prevent many unnecessary deaths each year," Alyson Bodai, HSUS Wisconsin state director. "Pets in Wisconsin will be safer thanks to Representative Sinicki and Senator Plale's humane leadership, as well as the swift action of committee chairs Representative Gordon Hintz and Senator Robert Wirch."  

The new law was supported by The HSUS, HSLF, Consumer Specialty Products Association and Honeywell International, manufacturers of Prestone®, one of the country's best known brands of antifreeze. Also offering support were the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association and state and local animal welfare organizations including the Wisconsin Humane Society, Dane County Humane Society and the Oshkosh Area Humane Society.  

"No animal should die a painful death from antifreeze poisoning, and no family should suffer the heartache of losing their animal when these tragedies can easily be prevented," said Rep Sinicki. "I'm pleased that Wisconsin has joined other states in addressing this serious safety issue."

Sen. Plale echoed Rep. Sinicki's sentiments, saying, "I'm proud to have sponsored a bill that will protect Wisconsin pets from preventable antifreeze poisonings."

An estimated 10,000 animals are poisoned each year after ingesting ethylene glycol, the highly toxic substance used in auto antifreeze and coolant. Ethylene glycol's sweet smell and taste make it attractive to animals as well as children. The bill will require manufacturers to add bitter-tasting denatonium benzoate to antifreeze and coolant sold in the state.

Bodai and representatives from the Wisconsin Humane Society and Dane County Humane Society joined the governor at a private signing ceremony at the Capitol today.

With the governor's signature, Wisconsin became the 12th state to pass a bill requiring that antifreeze sold there contain a bittering agent. The other states where the HSLF has worked to pass similar legislation are: Arizona, California, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont and Washington. Similar legislation has been approved by the Illinois Legislature, and awaits the Governor's signature.  Bills are still pending in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Ohio.

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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.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues and to support humane candidates for office. On the Web at hslf.org.

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