Shiloh's Law - The First Steps
Published February 2012 in Action Magazine
As we discussed last month, I will be sharing with you my journey to enact Shiloh's Law. Not being a political person, this is a brand new experience for me.
So the first step for me was to figure out what this law needs to focus on. It is clear from the research I've done of several other states' animal welfare laws that the focus needs to be on clarifying what cruelty and neglect mean as well as allowing humane officers and/or veterinarians the necessary authority to do what is in the best interest of the animal in these types of situations.
I'll first discuss the main sections of current Wisconsin Law that need to be revised. The first is section 951.02 that defines "Mistreating Animals" which states "No person may treat any animal, whether belonging to the person or another, in a cruel manner. This section does not prohibit normal and accepted veterinary practices." This to me is very vague and needs to be more defined. What constitutes cruelty and/or neglect to some may be acceptable to others. For example, in Pennsylvania they consider ear cropping without anesthesia or tail docking a puppy after the age of 5 days to be an act of cruelty and in New York they have specific sections of their Animal Welfare law that deal with companion animals being left in vehicles during extreme weather and even consider it a misdemeanor crime if someone throws a glass bottle or nails on the road that could potentially injure an animal.
The next section of the law is section 173.13 that defines "Taking Custody of Animals" which states "A humane officer, on behalf of a political subdivision in which the humane officer has jurisdiction under s. 173.03 (3), or a law enforcement officer, on behalf of a political subdivision, may take custody of an animal if the humane officer or law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the animal is one of the following: 1. An abandoned or stray animal; 2. An unwanted animal delivered to the humane officer or law enforcement officer; 3. A dog not tagged as required by law; 4. An animal not licensed in compliance with any ordinance; 5. An animal not confined as required by a quarantine order under any statute, rule or ordinance relating to the control of any animal disease; 6. An animal that has caused damage to persons or property; 7. A participant in an animal fight intentionally instigated by any person; 8. An animal mistreated in violation of ch. 951 (this is where our focus will be); and 9. An animal delivered by a veterinarian under sub. (2). (this basically covers animals left at a veterinary facility and not claimed/picked up).
The section that defines "Mistreating Animals" needs to clearly define what that means and include that insufficient quantity of good quality food and water, inadequate shelter and protection from weather, inadequate veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering, cruel treatment including beating, tormenting, starving, overworking and otherwise abusing any animal constitutes mistreatment, neglect and/or abuse.
OK, now that we've made our way through the current Animal Welfare laws in Wisconsin and understand them a bit better as they currently read, I hope you will agree that they do need some clarification and veterinarians who are trained in areas of abuse/neglect need to have some authority in these situations to prevent future tragedies.