Utah to consider animal legislation

SALT LAKE CITY Ė A Utah lawmaker is crafting three bills for the upcoming legislative session to bolster animal-safety laws.

The Humane Society of Utah asked state Sen. Gene Davis to sponsor the bills, including one which seeks to make cockfighting a felony.

Though cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states, Utah is one of 15 where cockfighting is only a misdemeanor crime, Humane Society Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt said.

Utahís neighboring states have made it a felony, which draws those participating in cockfighting into the state where the penalties arenít as harsh, Baierschmidt said.

Davis, a Salt Lake City Democrat, also is planning legislation that would make it illegal to tether a dog outside for more than 10 hours. There is currently no limit on how long a dog can be tied up.

Davis said dogs that are tied up in yards for long periods of time bark excessively, have difficulty socializing and sometimes develop deep collar marks in their necks.

Chaining a dog for long stretch of time ďisnít good animal husbandry,Ē the minority leader said.

ďIf you have your animal and itís a pet and is a part of your family, then make it a part of your family. You have to spend time with the animal and not keep it tied up all day,Ē he said.

Davisí proposal would make violations a misdemeanor that comes with a $250 fine.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Davisís third animal-safety proposal would restrict the sale of dogs in unregulated places such as parking lots.

The Humane Society said those kind of roadside puppy sales can result in unplanned pet purchases where people later realize they donít want the animals and give them up, adding to the influx at Utah shelters. Those unregulated sales can also involve animals with harmful diseases such as parvovirus, which can result in rashes and arthritis for humans.

Davis said professional breeders or legitimate sellers that get animals spayed and vaccinated are not the target of the legislation.

Republican Rep. Curtis Oda of Clearfield said he hasnít seen Davisí proposals yet, but said heís concerned the tethering law could cause problems. Oda said a neighbor could report someone for tethering their animal without knowing why the pet is chained.