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Palm Coast Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 5 months ago

Here are two proposed laws and how they would really impact animals — and you

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The Flagler Humane Society is active in lobbying for animals as session has begun.
by: Amy Wade-Carotenuto Executive Director, Flagler Humane Society

On Jan. 11, Florida lawmakers began this year’s legislative session, which runs for 60 days. 

We at Flagler Humane Society are working with ASPCA, The Humane Society of the United States, Florida Animal Control Association and Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations to ensure that animal protection laws are strengthened. Several of our staff attended Humane Lobby Day in Tallahassee this week.

Among the bills we’ll be discussing with our legislators are:

House Bill 849 / Senate Bill 994 — The Pet Protection Act. Sounds like a good thing, right? Wrong! The bill is disguised as an animal welfare bill to mislead lawmakers. It was penned by pet store chains that purchase thousands of puppies from puppy mills. These cruelly bred puppies are imported into Florida from the Midwest. This law would protect a dwindling business model. As exemplified by PetSmart, PetCo and most mom-and-pop shops, pet stores don’t have to sell puppies to be successful. The massive $103 billion retail pet industry is dominated by pet products and services. 

Years ago, Flagler Beach was one of the first cities in the U.S. to ban retail sale of pets. Last summer, animal protection agencies and advocates worked tirelessly to pass a ban on retail sale of pets in both Orange and Manatee counties. HB 849/SB 994 is in response to those new local ordinances and would undo all that hard work. 

If this bill were to pass, ordinances in Orange and Manatee counties would be void, and pet stores would continue making money off the backs of sick animals. Our law in Flagler Beach would stand as HB 849/SB 994 would only undo these local animal protection ordinances that passed since June 1, 2021.  

HB 723 / SB 448 — Veterinary Telemedicine. Telemedicine in human health has become very common, especially since COVID. Trends in veterinary medicine often follow that of human medicine. Referred to as “The PETS Act," if passed this would allow veterinarians to treat minor issues such as fleas or small wounds by watching a video that you take of your pet. 

Virtual medicine can also help lessen the number of in-person follow-up visits post-surgery. Doctor is sent a video of what the surgery site looks like and speaks with you about how the pet is acting and feeling after surgery. Easy peasy, less driving back and forth for you. 

The PETS Act would improve access to veterinary care for pet owners across the geographic and economic spectrum and help address the critical national shortage of veterinarians. Telemedicine is helpful for senior citizens with pets, working families, and those who face challenges accessing pet care due to disability or transportation issues. 

Many of us have pets who are fearful or aggressive. This would provide a safe option and may reduce instances of neglect by expanding access to care. Veterinary virtual care can even help lower the number of animals surrendered to shelters by helping keep pets in homes. The PETS Act would certainly not require that a veterinarian allow for telemedicine, but would give them that option. 

These are just two of the potential new laws that we are watching. 

In Flagler County, we are blessed to have representatives in Tallahassee who care about animals. Rep. Paul Renner and Sen. Travis Hutson have listened to us and have helped to pass animal protection laws like Pet Protection orders (passed in 2020) and banning the cruel practice of shark finning (2017). If you contact them, make sure that you thank them for their concern for animals.

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