Animal rescue organizations displeased with new Ala. animal cruelty bill

Updated: Feb. 19, 2020 at 9:51 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Workers at local animal rescue organizations are speaking up after a controversial animal cruelty bill passed in Montgomery.

Some say it invites puppy mills and throws away animal laws cities and counties have already passed. It also gives the state Department of Agriculture all the power.

“I have never seen anything like Senate Bill 196 in my entire life. I have lived in the state of Alabama for 20 years and I have never seen a bill that’s this outrageous,” said Aubrie Kavanaugh, spokeswoman for No Kill Huintsville.

Employees with animal groups say reporting crimes such as animal abuse and undernourishment would scare people if this bill becomes law.

“This bill would make it a crime for anyone that sees or reports animal abuse which later does not lead to a conviction. So what that means is, if you’re a good Samaritan and you see something and you say something, you could be the one criminally charged for what you see. If you take photos or videos you’re not allowed to disseminate it and if you do that you could be criminally charged," said Kavanaugh.

“This bill would scare people off from reporting suspected incidences of animal neglect, torture and abuse. It’s something that I see often here at the shelter. It’s something that my team has worked really hard to fight against and to combat. And to me that is the most dangerous part of this legislation,” said Anne Caldwell, CEO of Greater Huntsville Humane Society.

That is just one of the issues some people have with Senate Bill 196.

“This is some shocking language that just kind of took me back, but it’s a precursor to what’s in the rest of the bill. It reads ‘Animals, like productive people, want to work. It is the purpose of this act to allow animals to participate in work that benefits both the animals, their handlers, and the people around them.’ That just sets the tone for the complete bill,” said Kavanaugh.

People against the bill say it doesn’t separate rules for the livestock industry and companion animals.

WAFF 48 News reached out to the lawmakers who voted for the bill. They weren’t available for comment.

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