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Lawmakers to Consider Bills Pertaining to Pets Wednesday

February 19, 2013, 7:01 PM HST
* Updated February 20, 11:07 AM
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Of 40 different bills affecting animals in Hawaii this legislative session, three are being reviewed by state lawmakers Wednesday.

They range from a bill that would allow landlords to charge an additional security deposit for pets, to a bill that would make it a felony to perform any surgical procedure on a pet animal unless licensed as a veterinarian.

A third bill would enable groups, such as humane societies, to seek financial reimbursement for the costs incurred when seizing animals rescued in suspected cruelty cases.

House Bill 1316 would amend the residential landlord-tenant code to provide for security deposits that include an additional sum to pay for damages caused by any animal allowed to reside in the premises pursuant to the rental agreement.

This bill is supported by all island humane societies and the Hawaii Association of Realtors.

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Senate Bill 8, Senate Draft 1 would prohibit the owner of a pet animal or the owner’s employees from performing any surgical procedure, including but not limited to surgical birth, ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal, and debarking on the pet animal without being licensed as a veterinarian.

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The law would make a non-veterinarian performing any of those procedures a class C felony.

This bill has support from all humane societies and the Hawaii Veterinarian Medical Association.

House Bill 235 amends the definition of “victim” in state law to include any incorporated humane society or incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals that holds and cares for impounded pets.

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This means that in cases like the infamous Waimanalo puppy mill, organizations such as the Hawaiian Humane Society would be able to seek financial reimbursement for the costs incurred when seizing animals rescued in suspected cruelty cases.

While most Big Island residents may not be able to travel to Oahu to testify in person on various pieces of legislation, the Legislature encourages neighbor island participation via email, and in some cases, by videoconferencing.

Each emailed letter is posted on the Capitol website and read by members of the committee when deliberating on these issues. Each emailed testimony is also read aloud during hearings.

The deadline to submit comments is typically 24 hours prior to the hearing, but late testimony will be accepted if received before the scheduled hearing time.

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