By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – A bill aimed at putting more teeth into existing laws about animals being left outside and getting adequate food and water received a significant amount pushback at a hearing on Tuesday before the House Environment and Agriculture Committee.
It is among a handful of bills being considered this session involving animals.
House Bill 1389 http://gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/billText.aspx?sy=2020&id=1219&txtFormat=pdf&v=current is designed to protect dogs from death due to exposure, said its sponsor, Rep. Katherine Rogers, D-Concord
“There are dogs freezing to death,” said Rogers, a former prosecutor, who said this bill would address gaps in the law that would allow a neighbor to bring attention to abuse and allow law enforcement to remove the animal from such a situation.
But Scott Isabelle, who has a small kennel of Siberian Huskies and is a recreational musher and hiker in the Lakes Region, said if the bill passes “our dogs will not have the ability to run and play all day in a safe open kennel.”
They would not be able to grow their thicker winter coat for winter and would be forced to stay in the basement or be crated most of the day, he said.
“They will go from being lean, energetic, happy, healthy dogs to overweight, sad, destructive dogs,” Isabelle said.
The bill notes that if the National Weather Service has issued advisories for extreme weather, dogs left out more than 15 minutes could be considered victims of abuse.
There were 21 people who signed up to testify at the start of the hearing and all but one opposed the bill.
Members of the committee asked what the bill would do that is not currently in statute and how this would impact those who have “doggie doors” that allow the animals to come and go as they please.
Rogers said there is not enough language in state law to protect dogs from death. She said prosecutors would use their discretion and would not “harass” law-abiding dog owners.
Rogers offered an amendment to the measure which is more aligned with a statute in Maine and was not limited by dates on a calendar.
The bill is among a collection of measures aimed at animal, retailers, restaurants, brewpubs, and dog owners.
Senate Bill 450 looks to brewpubs to allow dogs in their outdoor areas. House Bill 1483 would apply to dogs in outdoor restaurants. House Bill 1448 is relative to the importation of dogs and their screening for Brucella canis.
House Bill 1388 would prohibit the sale of dogs, cats or rabbits in retail establishments. House Bill 1277 deals with issues on dog licenses and relicensing. House Bill 1164 relates to cruelty involving cats and dogs.