Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

‘Giving dogs a fighting chance’: Florida lawmakers seek hurricane lifeline for pets

Senate Bill 1738 would create a first-degree misdemeanor for leaving pets restrained or unattended during a natural or manmade disaster.
In this Dec. 15, 2017 photo, puppies stand in a cage at the Canita Sanctuary, which houses hundreds of abandoned dogs and cats after it suffered some damage from Hurricane Maria almost three months ago, where they are protected from euthanasia in Guayama, Puerto Rico. Abandoned animals are overwhelming Puerto Rico’s shelters, which were already struggling to cope with the hundreds of thousands of stray animals that were roaming the island even before the storm approached. [AP Photo | Carlos Giusti]
In this Dec. 15, 2017 photo, puppies stand in a cage at the Canita Sanctuary, which houses hundreds of abandoned dogs and cats after it suffered some damage from Hurricane Maria almost three months ago, where they are protected from euthanasia in Guayama, Puerto Rico. Abandoned animals are overwhelming Puerto Rico’s shelters, which were already struggling to cope with the hundreds of thousands of stray animals that were roaming the island even before the storm approached. [AP Photo | Carlos Giusti]
Published Mar. 19, 2019

People who leave pets restrained outside and unattended during natural or manmade disasters would face up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $5,000, under a measure approved Monday by the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said the proposal (Senate Bill 1738), which would create a first-degree misdemeanor, is in reaction to actions by pet owners in hurricanes Matthew, Irma and Michael.

“We’ve seen these three hurricanes and seen numerous dogs left tethered to different things,” Gruters said. “We want to give dogs a fighting chance.”

Numerous local governments, including Fernandina Beach, Miami, Mount Dora and Pembroke Park and Collier, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Okaloosa, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Sarasota and St. Lucie counties --- already have rules about leaving dogs tied up during storms.

“The Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control director reported that many pets are left chained to trees and parked cars, as their owner left them behind to ‘ride out the storm’ on their own,” a Senate staff analysis of the bill said. “During Hurricane Irma, 49 dogs and two cats were rescued by animal control officers.”