The Bulletin Board

New laws bolster animal protection in the state

By: - July 29, 2021 2:22 pm
State House viewed through stone arch

Three animal protection bills were signed into law on Wednesday. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

Gov. Chris Sununu signed three animal protection bills into law on Wednesday during a ceremony at the Salem Animal Rescue League, a nonprofit no-kill shelter, with lawmakers and advocates in attendance.

House Bill 174 requires a driver who hits a cat to report it to either the animal’s owner or to a police officer. Under the new law, failure to do so can result in a violation, an offense that brings a $1,000 fine. Proponents of the measure – which had bipartisan support – said the same protection that has long been on the books for dogs should also be extended to cats. The new measure will go into effect on Jan. 1.

Another measure addresses dog theft, which has been on the rise nationally due to increased demand for pets during the pandemic. Proponents of the bill said so-called dog flippers would steal valuable breeds of dogs from the owner’s yard to then sell them for a profit elsewhere. House Bill 338 makes the first offense of dog theft a misdemeanor, while the second offense would be a class B felony. Any additional offense would be a class A felony. The new law would also close another gap in existing law, by making tampering with or removing a dog’s collar – which owners can use to track a dog through GPS – a crime as well.

And a bill was also signed into law to address cruelty to wild animals, including fish and wild birds. House Bill 529 adds a section to existing law on animal cruelty, so that the negligent beating, whipping, torturing, or mutilating of a wild animal, fish, or wild bird is a misdemeanor. Doing so purposefully would be a class B felony under the new law.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee reported on energy and environment for New Hampshire Bulletin. She also previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.