Some animal rescue groups are growling about a new law that aims to clamp down on parking lot pet exchanges.
Starting Oct. 1 animal importers must register with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture and local zoning officers about any sale, adoption, or transfer of animals. They must also pay a $100 registration fee. Anyone violating the law faces a $500 fine.
“The bill is intended to stop the so-called puppy mills and to end inhumane and illegal trafficking in animals,” state Sen. Andrew Maynard, a Democrat representing Groton, North Stonington and Stonington in the 18th Senate District said.
Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steve Reviczky supports the bill that state Rep. Diana Urban, a Democrat representing Stonington and North Stonington in the 43rd House District, helped sponsor.
During public hearing testimony Reviczky told the environment committee his department receives numerous complaints from the public about animals coming into the state with significant health issues, including respiratory problems and parasite infections. However, some rescue groups say it will discourage rescues.
The Federation of Responsible Rescues opposes the new law.
The groups said the law "effectively ends the ability of legitimate rescues to offer dogs for adoption in the state of Connecticut by making the cost so prohibitive that adoption is not feasible for the vast majority of adopters."
According to the legislation, an animal importer is “a person who brings any dog or cat into this state for purpose of selling the animal, adopting, or transfer for any fee, sale voluntary contribution, service or any other consideration.”
Yet, legislators who supported the bill said many of these animals were adopted out of shipping containers in parking lots, without required current health certificates and showing signs of disease.
But until the governor signed the law the agriculture department could only require rabies vaccination.
“Obviously I think it is a good bill,” Maynard said. “As always it is a bit of a struggle as there are licensing and administrative aspects particularly involving veterinary certifications and that means some additional costs but over all it is a very positive and necessary protection for bot animal welfare and human health.”
The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association called the law “a necessary and measured approach to addressing the growing problem of unregulated transport of animals into Connecticut.” According to the association an" informal, unregulated industry” to move pets into the state developed in recent years, particularly after 2005 hurricane Katrina.
In addition the law says no person, firm, or corporation can import or export for sale a dog or cat under 8-weeks old without its mother. It also prohibits the sale of dogs or cats under 8-weeks old.
Animal importers who offer dogs or cats for sale to licensed pet shops are exempt from the bill’s registration and notice provisions if the animal is delivered directly to the shop.
“The current situation poses significant risk to the state’s human population through the potential introduction of zoonotic diseases and also threatens the state’s companion animal population,” Reviczky said in testimony.
Under the new law a health certificate must accompany any animal imported into the state. The animal importer must also get a veterinary exam and new health certificate for the animal within 48 hours of entering Connecticut. And a licensed veterinarian must examine the animal every 90 days until the animal sold, transferred or adopted. Importers must keep the records for up to 3 years.
“I think what it did you have a license to import animals in the state. The whole idea is a good one for people adopting animals etc. make sure they are healthy,” said state Rep. Livvy Floren, a Republican representing North Stamford and Greenwich in the 149th House District.
Editor's note August 15, 2011 6:38 p.m.: This article was modified from its original version. The paragraph referencing the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was removed. The organization has made no statement in regard to this new law in Connecticut.