Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We can't afford one man's ignorance

Early yesterday morning I was browsing through some news articles I'd missed over the weekend and found one from the Salt Lake Tribune that shook me to my core. It turns out that Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, doesn't think that feral animals should be protected by the Animal Cruelty Act. To that end, he has proposed House Bill 210, an amendment to the act.

The article states:
Oda said a humane killing would be any method that caused the least amount of suffering. Shooting is singled out as an acceptable method in his bill, but Oda said other means that would be allowed include using a bow and arrow, clubbing or decapitating some animals.
Feral animals are typically domestic species that are wild, such as cats and pigeons. They can pose threats through infection and predation to other animal populations, Oda said. Killing them quickly is often the best control method, he said.
“I want to protect people from getting in trouble for doing the right thing,” Oda said. No-kill methods, such as relocation or catch, neuter and release, are less efficient and more expensive, Oda said.
Rep. Oda can only be acting out of extreme ignorance. First, it has been proven that eradication of feral populations does not work. Second, since when is shooting, clubbing or decapitating an animal considered humane? And he wants to do away with Trap-Neuter-Release (TRN) because it costs too much? If he really want to control feral populations, he needs to support TRN programs and education on spay/neuter among the general public, not declare open season on Utah's feral cats and other animals.

I, of course, took a look at the actual bill. And I have to say that the amendments Rep. Oda propose are very disturbing. In the Animal Cruelty Act, it states that:
A person is guilty of aggravated cruelty to an animal if the person:
(a) tortures an animal;
(b) administers, or causes to be administered, poison or a poisonous substance to an animal; or
(c) kills an animal or causes an animal to be killed without having a legal privilege to 114 do so.
H.B. 210, however, makes an exception for:
the humane shooting or killing of an animal if the person doing the shooting or killing has a reasonable belief that the animal is a feral animal.
It offers no tips on what constitutes a "reasonable belief." It does not limit the killing to law enforcement, peace officers or veterinary staff. So, if my cat Tyrone wanders outside and loses his collar - again - one of my neighbors would legally be able to club him to death and simply state that they mistook him for one of the feral cats that live in the area.

There are many more problems with this bill. I have already launched a petition targeting Rep. Oda. Within 24 hours it already had 200 signatures. You can add your name to the petition by clicking on the link on the upper right of this page. I am also gathering information from organizations such as the Humane Society of Utah, Best Friends Animal Society, No More Homeless Pets of Utah and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and will launch a letter-writing campaign shortly. I will post more info as I get it.

Let's save all the animals, even the feral ones. Just because they live outside doesn't make them insignificant.

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