Summary of Animal Related Bills
Considered During the 2021 Legislative Session
HB 6504 Animal Welfare – Dept of Agriculture Agency bill: Passed. The bill makes several improvements to the APCP program by increasing the veterinarian vouchers, increasing from 10 to 20 percent the amount allocated to the feral cat grant program, and increasing the level of low-income vouchers available to spay/neuter cats and dogs. An amendment added on the House floor would codify existing regulations to allow telemedicine appointments in veterinary medicine.
SB 925: Prohibiting the import and sale of hunting trophies of African Wildlife Big Six Species. Passed and signed by the Governor. The bill only prohibits the sale & trade of hunted trophy parts and requires people to register existing items with DEEP or face minor penalties. Last minute changes removed the importation ban because federal law allows a hunter to import trophies into the United States with a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The proposed ban on importation to CT therefore was considered pre-empted by federal law.
Anti-Animal Bills Defeated
Bear Hunting: No bill to authorize a bear hunt was introduced this session. However, in the week before the session ended, an amendment to allow bear hunting in CT was offered during Senate debate to the Big Six bill. The amendment failed by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote of 27 nay, eight yay and one absent. The defeated amendment was proposed by Senator Berthal and supported by Senators Miner, Wilson, Sampson, and Witkos. Even though this effort failed we need to be prepared for continued efforts to bring up a bear hunting bill next year.
Other Animal Bills Considered During 2021 Session
SB 66 Circus Bill: would prohibit the use of exotic and wild animals in circuses and exhibitions. The bill garnered 24 co-sponsors but unfortunately did not move forward this year. The Environment Committee limited the number of bills voted out because of the pandemic and unfortunately the circus bill got caught up in those COVID limits.
SB 123 An Act to Increase the Penalties for Injuring or Killing a Police Dog or Dog in a Canine Search and Rescue Team: Increases the penalty from a D to a C felony. The bill was reported out of Committee but pulled because of controversies raised during floor debate about increasing penalties.
SB 923: Study of CT Animal Cruelty statutes by the CT Sentencing Commission. Passed the Senate under unanimous consent; not raised in the House due to objections by the House Judiciary Ranking Member
HB 5031 Eliminate the Sale and Trade of New Fur Products in CT: The anti-fur bill also got caught up on the Environment Committee’s limit on the number of bills reported out this year due to the pandemic. There was progress, however, in educating elected officials on the cruel and inhumane issues surrounding the fur trade.
HB 6048 Greyhound Racing Ban: Legislation to close the loophole in CT statutes and permanently prohibit greyhound racing in the state. CVA testified in support of the bill at the February 25 public hearing. The bill passed the House late on the last day of the session but failed to be considered in the Senate. The fact that it passed the House this year may put it in a better position to pass both chambers next year.
HB 6542 Local Control of Puppy Mill Sales: The bill had a hearing in the Planning and Development Committee but failed to be reported out of Committee. This was a difficult concept for legislators to understand and for supporters to rally behind. In the future we will focus on a statewide ban rather than the local control approach.