State Legislatures Weigh Animal Welfare Measures

As in Washington, DC, the new year ushered in new sessions in state legislatures, and bills to improve animal welfare have been introduced in several of them—including the Michigan circus animal bill mentioned at left.

Legislation has been introduced in Florida (HB 99) and Connecticut (HB 5251) to prohibit the sale, purchase, and possession of shark fins. In the absence of a national ban prohibiting the trade in shark fins, states have stepped up: Currently, 15 states and territories ban the sale of shark fin products.

Kentucky is one of only five states (the others being Hawaii, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Wyoming, as well as the District of Columbia) where animal sexual assault is still legal. (In some cases, bestiality was covered under other sexual practices laws that have since been repealed.) To correct this in Kentucky, SB 67 has been introduced to establish the crime of sexual abuse of an animal. Animal sexual assault is a violent crime, often resulting in the animal’s serious injury or death. Moreover, it is also a red flag for potential violence against other humans. Committing animal sexual abuse is, in fact, the strongest statistical indicator that the perpetrator will also commit child sexual abuse.