Legislators Lead Charge on Animal Protection

Legislation seeks to establish clearer standards on animal related issues
Thursday, May 17, 2018

LANSING —State Reps. Jim Ellison (D-Royal Oak), Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn), Tim Sneller (D-Burton), Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), and Frank Liberati (D-Allen Park) introduced an animal protection bill package with proposals to address broad animal safety topics and concerns this week.

“More often than not, exotic animal ownership leads to serious problems for both the animals and their owners,” said Ellison. “Michigan law already prohibits ownership of several exotic animals that pose a threat to residents. When owners realize they can’t control exotic animals, or worse if an incident occurs, law enforcement and our zoos ultimately have to intervene and resolve the situation. This is a waste of limited resources, and could be avoidable with clearer standards in place.”

This bill package would prevent unnecessary and avoidable harm to animals, while also seeking to establish clearer standards for animal protection and safety,” said Hammoud. “This legislation would bring animal abusers to justice while also providing valuable experience to aspiring attorneys. I am proud that this team of legislators and stakeholders was able to come together, look at deficiencies in current law and propose realistic solutions to often overlooked issues.”

The bills in the package are:

  • HB 6029 (Rep. Hammoud): Would allow a court to appoint a pro-bono lawyer or law student in a criminal prosecution case to advocate for the interests of animals on cruelty concerns, welfare, or custody.
  • HB 6031 (Rep. Sneller): Would ban veterinarians from performing a devocalization procedure on animals, unless for an exempt medical purpose.
  • HB 6034 (Rep. Gay-Dagnogo): Would subject veterinarians that perform a prohibited devocalization procedure to animal cruelty penalties, making the ban on the procedure enforceable.  
  • HB 6030 (Rep. Rabhi): Would require veterinarians to provide an information sheet on the onychectomy (declawing) procedure before it is performed. This detailed form would be drafted by the department with input from stakeholders, would be available online, and easily printable. With this procedure, the claw, bone, tendons and ligaments are amputated to the first knuckle of each toe.
  • HB 6032 (Rep. Ellison): Would ban the private ownership of non-human primates, which often become more aggressive as they age, can transmit dangerous viral diseases to humans, and are difficult to provide adequate conditions for.
  • HB 6033 (Rep. Liberati): Would allow municipalities to regulate, but not ban, the keeping of pigeons, allowing local communities to decide best standards. Many residents have expressed health and quality-of-life concerns, as well as concerns for the well-being of the animals.

“I have no tolerance for the mistreatment or abuse of animals,” said Sneller. “My bill would put a stop to the inhumane procedure, to remove an animal’s vocal tissue for no other reason than an owner’s convenience. Unless it is proven to be medically necessary, there is no reason why this antiquated and barbaric procedure should be performed.”