Oregon consistently ranks among the top three states in the nation based on the strength of its laws protecting animals. During this year’s legislative session in Salem, OHS worked hard in support of new measures to fight animal cruelty and bring offenders to justice. Highlights of the 2015 session are included below.
New Laws Passed
Dogs Trapped in Hot Cars, SB 614: This new law, which garnered overwhelming support, addresses the issue of dogs locked in cars during hot weather. Temperatures inside cars on hot days can easily reach dangerous levels for dogs, and the new measure gives law enforcement officers the authority to break into a motor vehicle to rescue an endangered animal.
Nuisance Statute for Animal Crimes, HB 2888: This bill, also signed into law, gives citizens a new tool to fight animal cruelty by allowing the use of a nuisance statute to shut down an establishment where animal cruelty is occurring. It allows observers or neighbors to take action against properties that are host to puppy mills, dog fights and other forms of animal crimes. With many jurisdictions reducing resources dedicated to investigating animal crimes, the new law gives local residents a new way to take action themselves.
Images Depicting Sexual Crimes, HB 2693: While sexual assault of an animal is a crime in Oregon, this new law criminalizes the creation and ownership of images depicting the sexual assault of an animal.
Social Workers, HB 2694: This new law allows a social worker employed by the Department of Human Services to report suspected animal abuse or neglect when the social worker sees the abuse as part of their job.
Rescue Agencies with 10 or More Animals, SB 4: This law provides a technical fix to Senate Bill 6 from 2013. It states that regulations pertaining to adoption groups that maintain control of 10 or more animals also applies to those groups that house 10 or more pets in multiple locations.
Legislation that Did Not Pass
Dogs in Pickup Trucks, HB 2687: This bill prohibits a dog in the back of a pickup truck, unless the dog is secure, or the operator is engaged in the practice of commercial agriculture.
Declawing/Debarking, HB 3494: This bill prohibits debarking a dog unless physically medically necessary. It also prohibits declawing a cat unless it’s medically necessary for the health of the cat, or medically necessary for the health of the owner.
Two Paws Up for these Lawmakers
As the current legislative session nears its end in Oregon, OHS is compiling a ranking of all legislators based on their votes and their leadership regarding animal-related legislation. Although the complete scorecard is still being tabulated, OHS is pleased to announce the “Top Dogs and Cats” of Salem: those legislators who led the way this session to make Oregon a better place for pets.
Top Dog & Cat Legislators of 2015
Sen. Sara Gelser, D – District 8, Chair of the Senate Human Services Committee. Gesler was a tireless advocate for the debark/declawing bill and led almost two hours of public discussion on the bill.
Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D – District 4, Chair of Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Prozanski helped revitalize support for an OHS animal welfare bill and carried the bill on the Senate floor.
Sen. Tim Knopp, R – District 27. After recognizing that animals were being trapped in automobiles unnecessarily, Knopp successful introduced legislation to make it easier for law enforcement to break into vehicles and rescue animals in danger.
Sen. Peter Courtney, D – District 11, Senate President. Courtney continues to be a leader in the Senate on animal welfare issues. He strongly supported the “dogs in hot cars” bill and championed this year’s amendments to SB 6.
Rep. Brent Barton, D – District 40. Barton is one of the real 2015 champions. He drafted and advocated for the anti-declaw/debark bill. He endured countless attacks both personal and professional, yet continues to believe that declawing and debarking are inhumane.
Rep. Joe Gallegos, D – District 30. Gallegos strongly supported a bill to allow social workers to report animal abuse. He also stood by himself (59-1) opposing a bill allowing certain fireworks on golf courses and other lands, believing there is a disconnect between people who enjoy fireworks and the anxiety/stress they cause in animals.
Rep. David Gomberg, D – District 10. Gomberg was a passionate leader on animal welfare issues in the 2015 session. He probably influenced or touched more individual bills dealing with animals than any other legislator.
Rep. Brad Witt, D – District 31. Witt supported several specific animal issues and championed legislation adding animal abuse/neglect to nuisance statutes.
How You Can Help
One of the most important things individuals can do to advocate for animals is to contact your local legislators. Let them know which animal rights issues concern you and your community. Get started here »