On January 11, Florida lawmakers began this year’s 60-day legislative session.
At Flagler Humane Society, we work with the ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States, Florida Animal Control Association, and Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations to ensure strong animal welfare laws. Several of our staff will be participating in Humane Lobby Day in Tallahassee this week.
Some of the bills we will be discussing with our legislators include:
House Bill “HB” 849 / Senate Bill “SB” 994 –The law on the protection of pets “Sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? WRONG! The bill is disguised as an animal welfare bill to mislead lawmakers. It was written by pet store chains that buy thousands of puppies from puppy mills. These cruelly bred puppies are imported to Florida from the Midwest. This law would protect a declining economic model. As evidenced by PetSmart, PetCo, and most mom-and-pop shops, pet stores don’t need to sell puppies to be successful. The huge $103 billion pet retail industry is dominated by pet products and services.
Years ago, Flagler Beach was one of the first cities in the United States to ban pet retail. Last summer, animal protection agencies and advocates worked tirelessly to ban the retail sale of pets in Orange and Manatee counties. HB 849/SB 994 is in response to these new local ordinances and would undo all that hard work. If this bill were to pass, Orange and Manatee county ordinances would be void and pet stores would continue to make money off the backs of sick animals. Our law in Flagler Beach would be such that HB 849 / SB 994 would only overrule these local animal protection ordinances that have been in place 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 those in human medicine. Called “The PETS Act,” if passed, it would allow vets to treat minor issues such as fleas or minor injuries by watching a video you take of your pet. Virtual medicine can also help reduce the number of in-person follow-up visits after surgery. The doctor receives a video of what the surgery site looks like and explains to you how the animal acts and feels after the surgery. Easy, less 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 useful for seniors with pets, working families, and those who have difficulty accessing pet care due to disability or transportation issues.
Many of us have pets that are fearful or aggressive. This would provide a safe option and could reduce cases of neglect by expanding access to care. Virtual veterinary care can even help reduce the number of animals turned over to shelters by helping to keep pets in homes.
The PETS law certainly wouldn’t require a veterinarian to authorize telemedicine, but would give them that option.
These are just two of the potential new laws we are watching.
In Flagler County, we are fortunate to have representatives in Tallahassee who care about animals. Representative Paul Renner and Senator Travis Hutson listened to us and helped pass animal protection laws such as the Pet Protection Orders (passed in 2020) and outlawing the cruel practice of shark finning ( 2017). If you contact them, be sure to thank them for their concern for animals.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Florida Legislature to Consider 2 Pet Bills