MI Animal Policy — March Update

The world has unquestionably changed since the February Update. Due to this, the priorities of the Michigan Legislature have appropriately shifted. Although the first half of March still saw some policy activity on the animal front, it seems much of the work in this area has come to a halt for the time being- and likely will continue to stall or move quite slowly as we move into the summer.

Newly Introduced Bills

HB 5577, introduced by Darrin Camilleri, amends the Michigan penal code to strengthen animal welfare standards for dogs left outside in inclement weather. The amendment takes into account a dog’s age, breed, physical condition, and hair/fur as factors determining if specific weather conditions are considered dangerous. Further only animals unattended outside- not in the presence of their owner or within eyeshot- for 30 minutes or longer. Animals left unattended in inclement weather must be provided adequate shelter. The specifications for adequate shelter are detailed in-depth and include space, cleaning, structural, and bedding requirements. The requirements center around strategies to keep animals warm, clean, and dry above all else. Additionally, this bill requires a certain amount of shade for animals as well.

There are several exemptions to this bill including dogs being used for hunting/trapping, farming or working livestock, law enforcement, search and rescue, sledding, or competition/field trials. Although the bill appears to be well written, there will likely be pushback from some animal groups, especially large-scale breeders, some of whom will not meet these standards with current shelters. This bill has been referred to the Committee on Agriculture.

SB 823 from Paul Wojno would create thorough regulations for the creation and maintenance of Pet Cemeteries. This bill likely is a response to the closure of a pet cemetery in Howell, MI in 2019 where nearly 75,000 animals had been buried. This led to a lawsuit from pet owners over the lack of “perpetual care” as promised from the now-defunct cemetery. This bill has been referred to the Committee on Regulatory Reform.

Significant Bill Updates

HB 4910 defining an Emotional Support Animal and reducing falsification of such animals has undergone several iterations since its introduction. It has now passed the House as substitute version (H-4). An analysis of H-3 was released prior to the creation and ultimate passage of the bill in H-4 form. At this time the bill has been transmitted to the Senate with tie-bar HB 4911. It is unclear if the Senate will move on this bill or take on the already introduced SB 610. No action has since been taken on either front.

Updates on bills included in the February Update

SB 800 making it a 1$ fine to bait deer has not moved.

HB 5508 banning declawing in cats has not moved.

HB 5486 adding protections for service animals in training has not moved.

SB 780 requiring animal control officers to report suspected child abuse/neglect has not moved.

HB 5465 establishing a Rare Disease Review Committee has not moved. A fiscal analysis has been released and states the committee would cost the Department of Health and Human Services $70,000–200,000 per year but would not impact local units of government.

SB 666 and HB 5273 aiming to end the practice of pet leasing/loaning in Michigan have not moved.

HB 5239 creating an equine industry check-off program has not moved. It also has a new summary and fiscal analysis available which states that it is likely to increase administrative costs for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development although the exact cost cannot be determined at this time.

HB 5203 creating a Small Farm Coordinator has not moved.

HB 5085 allowing veterinarians to speak with clients about the use of CBD in pets has had a new substitute added and referred from the Committee on Agriculture to the Committee on Ways and Means.

HB 5125 regulating the aerial spraying of pesticides has not moved. A bill analysis, background, and fiscal impact has been released. Indeed, this bill stemmed from Kalamazoo County’s choice to opt-out of aerial spraying this past fall and would extend their time to do so in the future from 48 hours to 5 days. This would have no significant fiscal impact on state or local government. Although this is the fiscal impact of the bill itself, reducing aerial spraying for disease when deemed necessary by the State could have significant negative financial impacts due to increased disease spread in the future.

HB 4910 defining an Emotional Support Animal and reducing falsification of such animals has passed the house based on a substitution. A bill summary states that this bill should have no fiscal impact on state or local governments. A companion bill, SB 610, has not moved. SB 608 and SB 609 also alter how Emotional Support Animals are regarded and neither has moved.

HB 4911 is a tie-bar with 4910 to update language elsewhere in Michigan law to match new language in HB 4010 and also passed the House.

HB 4496 regarding the adoption of dogs used for research purposes has not moved but has moved from the Committee on Regulatory Reform to the Committee on Agriculture.

HB 4941 which alters how long an animal is held during a criminal trial has not moved.

HB 4931 making a dog sitting on a driver’s lap while driving a misdemeanor has not moved.

HB 4860 expanding the authority of the Large Carnivore Act has not moved. A bill analysis and fiscal analysis has been released. It states that this bill is not expected to impact time spent by MDARD on large carnivore licensure and as only a single license has been granted to date, this bill should have no fiscal impact. This bill moved out of the House Agriculture Committee on party lines and has now been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means despite opposition from several zoological and animal groups.

HB 4833 regulating the transport of deer both inter- and intra-state has not moved.

SB 429 which would require reporting of suspected animal abuse by veterinarians was amended from its original text and would no longer mandate that veterinarians report suspected abuse. As such, it does not have any real implications for either owners or veterinarians and is likely redundant with current Michigan law. This bill in its amended form has moved out of committee to the Senate floor but is unlikely to come up for a vote. A fiscal analysis now shows that this bill would have no fiscal impact.

SB 352 mandating reporting of animal abuse or neglect by child protective services employees has moved out of committee and is now awaiting the Senate floor. SB 353 which would make false reporting by such employees a felony has not moved despite the activity of SB 352. The aforementioned analysis of this bill (352) states that it also would have a negative fiscal impact due to increased costs from the necessary training of employees to spot animal abuse and neglect at the Department of Health and Human Services.

SB 419 requiring state registration of animal rescues has not moved; an analysis of this bill has been released. Significant discussions have also been made between the bill’s sponsor and rescue groups making it likely that any future discussed bill will be edited from its original form.

HB 4687 and SB 37 allowing for deer baiting passed both the House and Senate and were promptly vetoed.

SB 174, an amendment of the Animal Industry Act, has become law.

SB 316 regarding animals for fighting has been moved out of committee but not yet taken under consideration by the Senate. A bill analysis states that this bill would have a negative fiscal impact due to increased resource demands on law enforcement.

HB 4592 which would allow animal advocates in court has not moved.

HB 4593 regarding canine vocalization has not moved.

HB 4594 regarding the ownership of non-human primates has not moved.

HB 4595 regarding carrier pigeon regulations has not moved.

HB 4596 regarding community cat programs has not moved.

HB 4610 regarding community vaccination has not moved.

House Bills 4659, 4603, 4604, 4606, 4607, 4608, and 4609 have not moved. Of note, a bill was passed in New York with similar language as that of HB 4659, requiring information about Lyme Disease to be posted in state parks. Additionally, a fiscal analysis is now included with this set of bills.

HB 4092 regarding leaving pets in cars has not moved.

SB 63 regarding income tax deductions for service animals has not been moved.

HB 4035 regarding the prohibition of breed-specific legislation has been moved to the Committee on Way and Means with substitute H-1.

HB 4217, SB 254, SB 248 have all been amended, however, the veterinary exemption has remained intact in all forms. Bills in both the Senate and House have independently passed their respective houses and await agreement between the houses to move forward.

HB 4455 designating the shelter pet as the state pet has not moved.

Twitter: @MattKuhnDVM

Veterinarian. PhD. AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow. Bookworm, SciPol junky, dad, ER vet husband.