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Animal advocates oppose bill that would modify regulations

Posted at 5:54 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 19:54:55-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill aimed at making uniform regulations across the state regarding production and care of domestic animals has made its way to the Senate.

House Bill 476 is sponsored by Republican Representative Joel Ferry, who oversees District 1 (Box Elder and Cache Counties). His bill would modify the authority that local municipalities and counties to pass regulations regarding animal enterprises.

Rachel Heatley, the Advocacy and Investigations Director for the Humane Society of Utah says they and others feel left out of the conversation when it comes to this bill.

"We could never expect that animal control would be left out of this conversation and we trust that they would have incredible input," said Heatley.

This would include industries like pet stores, circuses, rodeos and even aquariums. Rep. Ferry says the state, through the Department of Agriculture, would regulate commercial animal husbandry practices under his bill.

The proposed bill has some animal welfare advocates worried.

"Cities and counties throughout the state like Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County have enacted ordinances to prevent the sale of puppies and kittens from inhumane breeding mills because that was a problem that Could be reasonably and effectively solved through those ordinances," said Elizabeth Oreck, the National Manager of Puppy Mill Initiatives for Best Friends Animal Society.

Rep. Ferry says this bill would remove some of the hodgepodge of one city or county allowing something that another would not.

"We want to make sure that there's a consistent standard and uniform standard across the board to help them manage that," said Rep. Ferry.

He says he has heard and even understands some of the concerns that have been brought up about his bill.

"This isn't a way to try to circumvent the good work and the work that they've done, this is a way to say, look, if it's good for one, it should be good for all," said Rep. Ferry.

However, for some of those who house and provide care for animals across the state, they say this kind of approach isn't feasible.

"There's no one size fits all approach that can be applied when we're talking about the complexity of animal issues," said Oreck.

For Heatley, she says animals have different needs based on where they are in the state.

"We hope that if it does pass that the Department of Agriculture will really invest in stakeholders to find out what these regulations should look like," said Heatley.

PETA did release a statement about HB 476 Wednesday afternoon.

They statement says in part, "PETA members are urging their state representatives to oppose this bill, which would turn the Beehive State into a safe haven for animal abusers instead of locking them up."

The Humane Society of Utah is holding a rally in opposition of HB 476 on Thursday. They say they will be joined by animal welfare leaders, municipal animal control officials and concerned citizens.

That rally will take place on the south steps of the Utah State Capitol, beginning at Noon.