About a dozen animal rights advocates spoke against a bill Thursday that would require animal shelters to contact all area rescue groups before euthanizing. The bill (SB 818) would require animal shelters and control agencies to maintain a database of local rescue groups and notify each one before putting down an animal.
Sen. Bennett scolds animal rights activists
It also outlines conditions—such as illness or aggressive behavior---under which a shelter may euthanize an animal without contacting area rescue groups.
In the Senate Community Affairs Committee, as citizens filed to the podium, Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, the sponsor, scolded speakers for not coming to his office before the meeting to discuss their objections and possible changes to the bill. The committee postponed voting on the bill.
"I suggest you do your research rather than just stand up here and say, "Gee, this is going to raise cost," he said in an irritated tone.
One woman said she had gone to Bennett’s office to speak with him, but that the meeting hadn’t resulted in any changes that she thought made sense.
Melissa Abernathy, program director for the Leon County Humane Society, said she believes the bill is well-intentioned, but could put an impossible burden on cash-strapped shelters and contribute to the spread of disease in shelters.
“More animals will be housed in inhumane conditions, more animals will ultimately die even though this is intended to save them,” she said.
At the end of the meeting, Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, and Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, defended Bennett and his bill.
“Nobody should leave here thinking that Senator Bennett doesn’t care about the humane treatment of animals,” Thrasher said.