Bill would stiffen laws on transporting pets | NevadaAppeal.com

Bill would stiffen laws on transporting pets

Lucy Redoglia
Nevada Appeal News Service

Pet Network Animal Friends of Nevada has taken its respect and concern for animal rights to a new level.

Incline Village’s animal shelter – known for rescuing and caring for animals that have been abandoned or neglected or face euthanization at other shelters – has entered the legislative realm.

The organization has authored SB329 relating to the transportation and possession of animals in motor vehicles. The Committee on Natural Resources of the Nevada Legislature will hold a hearing on the bill at 3:30 p.m. Monday.

“We started researching and writing the bill three months ago as part of the Pet Network board’s plan to get involved in the Legislature,” said Executive Director Bryan Davis. “We’re now the only full-service animal shelter actively pursuing animal welfare legislation during the 2007 state legislative session. Our proposal protects the lives of innocent animals and also increases public safety on our highways and streets.”

If the SB329 is made into law, it would make it a misdemeanor for a person to allow a dog or cat to remain unattended in a parked or standing car during a period of extreme heat or cold.

“You cannot leave animals in a car,” said Susan Paul, Pet Network’s director of animal welfare. “People just don’t realize how quickly heat exhaustion can set in. Animals’ body temperatures are already higher than ours and if they don’t have any water, they can die.”

The bill authorizes certain officers to use reasonable force to remove the animal from the vehicle to prevent severe injury or death.

“It gives us some liability protection if we have to force our way into the vehicle,” said Capt. Steven Kelly of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department, Incline Village Substation. “It’s not something we deal with often because we do have animal control, but it does come up occasionally.”

In addition, the bill prohibits drivers from putting their animals in truck beds or other unsafe conditions inside a vehicle without proper restraint.

“I get a number of calls each year from pet owners that need financial aid for veterinary services because their dogs are injured from falling out of the back of a truck, or hit by a car after falling out,” Paul said.

If the bill is passed, people driving with animals in areas primarily designed or intended for carrying goods or cargo would have to keep them in a cage or tether them into the vehicle so they cannot jump or fall out, though certain exceptions apply including transportation of livestock, hunting and farm animals.

According to a press release, SB329 has the bipartisan sponsorship of Sen. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, and Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno. Numerous other states already have laws relating to one or both of these issues including Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Connecticut, Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont.

“Right now I’m optimistic about it, we did a lot of research in writing the bill,” Davis said. “I’m excited for Pet Network to become involved in legislation.”