Letter: Good work on animal cruelty bill

Thursday, April 26, 2018

As the four former chairs of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee, we would like to commend Chairman John O’Connor and the committee’s members for their excellent work amending Senate Bill 569, relative to animal cruelty.

The committee faced a difficult task to create a fair, workable and enforceable solution to a problem that safeguards not only the rights of animal owners but ensures the welfare of domestic companion animals, and it succeeded.

The committee amendment addresses animal hoarding, which is at the root of most large scale animal cruelty cases, as well as defining clearly a high-volume, commercial kennel. Both the ASPCA and Best Friends Animal Society, two nationwide animal welfare organizations that care for the victims of animal hoarding, support the inclusion of a definition of animal hoarding in state’s laws.

At the same time, the Environment and Agriculture Committee recognized the importance of and need for a realistic funding mechanism to reimburse towns faced with a difficult animal seizure case, balancing that with the need to protect the presumption of innocence guaranteed to our citizens.

They have created a study committee in order to develop a real, reliable funding solution that will ensure that New Hampshire can support all animals affected by animal abuse. Funding for care cannot be guaranteed, when it is dependent on the financial resources of the accused who often do not have the monetary resources.

Additionally, the committee recognized that passing additional requirements affecting the staffing and resources of the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food, without guaranteeing adequate, realistic funding for that work, puts an unfair burden on that department.

We applaud the governor for making the issue of animal hoarding a legislative priority and are certain he will appreciate, recognize and support the Environment and Agriculture Committee’s pragmatic approach.