Animal Welfare Measures in State Legislatures

AWI led efforts to get a bill introduced in the Illinois Senate to ban mink farming in the state. Sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes, the Mink Facility Disease Prevention Act (SB 3262) recognizes that mink on fur farms incubate diseases such as COVID-19 and avian influenza, creating the perfect conditions for new variants to jump to humans—with potentially devastating results. The handful of mink farms in Illinois would be required to cease operations by January 1, 2025. AWI also joined with other organizations to urge the governor of Oregon to phase out commercial mink fur farming in that state.

photo by Marc Scharping
photo by Marc Scharping

AWI is supporting bills in Massachusetts and Washington to ban the sale of nonvintage fur products. The fashion world is still transitioning away from this cruel product, and in 2019, California became the first state to ban fur sales. Nevertheless, millions of animals continue to suffer and die needlessly each year to produce luxury garments made with fur. Between 10 and 24 foxes, or 36 to 65 mink, may be killed to make a single fur coat.

AWI is supporting bills in Maryland and Massachusetts prohibiting the use of many exotic animals in traveling shows. In Ohio, we are fighting an attempt to make the use of “traditional methods” to “hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife” a constitutional right. This would enshrine methods such as the use of steel-jaw leghold traps and running down animals with hounds as “rights,” making it much harder to regulate these cruel practices. 

As a member of the Keystone Link Coalition, AWI supported SB 55, a Pennsylvania bill addressing the connection between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence. It establishes a set of factors, including convictions for certain animal abuse crimes, that a judge may consider in making child custody and visitation decisions. The bill passed the Pennsylvania Senate in December and the House in late March, and now goes before the governor to be signed into law. Another AWI-backed bill, HB 1210, would authorize the inclusion of pets on personal protection orders in Pennsylvania. At press time, the bill is awaiting action in the Senate after passing the House last year.

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