MI Animal Policy — October Update

Matt Kuhn
6 min readNov 1, 2019

As much of the Lower Peninsula had its first snowfall last night (10/31/19), it is a fitting time to transition out of Halloween and into the Thanksgiving season. That also means it’s time for the October Update of Michigan animal and public health policy.

As budget discussions have dragged along between Republicans and Governor Whitmer, work elsewhere in the capital has continued to progress. A couple of new bills have been introduced and a number of previously introduced bills have had official analyses released summarizing their content and providing a fiscal assessment. The single bill that has made significant movement is SB 174, an amendment of the Animal Industry Act, which was passed by both houses last winter but vetoed by Governor Snyder at the last minute. It has now passed through the Senate with an overwhelming bipartisan vote a second time and will now move onto the House for further consideration.

New Bills

HB 5085 introduced by Gregory Markkanen would allow veterinarians to speak with clients about the potential use of CBD or cannabis with their pets. It should be noted that this bill is initially co-sponsored by the only veterinarian in the Michigan House of Representatives, Dr. Hank Vaupel.

Photo by R+R Medicinals on Unsplash

Although seemingly a controversial topic, the verbiage within this bill limits the scope of how veterinarians can address this topic with clients. As the use of medicinal and recreational marijuana have been legalized in MI, the number of animal overdoses and owners seeking them as alternative therapies for their pets has skyrocketed. Despite this, a veterinarian can currently lose their license not only for discussing potential therapeutic uses of CBD oil but also for warning clients about the dangers of its use, of which there are many due to the completely unregulated marketplace. This bill was drafted in response to this issue which has been a significant concern of Michigan Veterinary Medical Association members.

Specifically, the bill directs the veterinary board of Michigan to promulgate rules as to the specifics of the bill. The intention has been to draft rules based on those in other states, such as California, which allow veterinarians to discuss the dangers of using cannabis products in animals but bar them from recommending, prescribing, or dispensing such products. Altogether, this bill will help to protect veterinarians from liability and allow them to better inform clients as to safety issues associated with using cannabis-derived products in pets. This bill has been referred to the Committee on Agriculture.

HB 5125 introduced by Brad Paquette amends the Public Health Code to set guidelines for the aerial spraying of pesticides to reduce disease spread. This bill is a response to the recent spraying for mosquitos in several counties where a record number of cases of human Eastern Equine Encephalitis were concentrated.

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

The bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to notify the public and local health departments of its intention to spray five days prior to application. Spraying may be done for the prevention and control of disease or an environmental health hazard. They must also provide a procedure to opt-out if such a procedure is available. Several municipalities did decide to opt-out of the recent application.

It is unclear exactly what problem this bill solves, however, from a public health viewpoint, it does not appear to be significantly more restrictive than any current rules. The only caveat to this is the addition of the five-day notification window. There is the potential that this may reduce the ability of the state to respond to an emergency with aerial spraying, although this situation is unlikely to arise. This bill has been referred to the Committee on Health Policy.

Updates on bills included in the September Update

HB 4910 defining an Emotional Support Animal and reducing falsification of such animals has not moved; however, a bill summary has been released. This summary details the major points of the bill and provides a fiscal impact analysis. It is determined that overall, this bill should have no fiscal impact on state or local governments.

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

SB 450 extends the sunset date for livestock dealer licensing fees and has become law.

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.

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, as mentioned above, has not moved; however, a bill analysis has been released which details both SB 429 and SB 352. The fiscal analysis herein details that this would have a negative fiscal impact on state and local government due to increased resource demands on law enforcement and courts.

SB 352 mandating reporting of animal abuse or neglect by child protective services employees, and SB 353 which would make false reporting by such employees a felony have not moved. The aforementioned analysis of this bill(352) states that it also would have a negative fiscal impact for the same reasons as SB 429. Additionally, it lists that the Department of Health and Human Services may also incur increased costs due to the necessary training of employees to spot animal abuse and neglect.

SB 419 requiring state registration of animal rescues has not moved; an analysis of this bill has been released. The analysis determines that the fiscal impact of this bill on the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MDARD) is unknown as the current number of rescues in the state is unknown (an important reason to pass this bill). Despite this, MDARD has stated they will require additional resources to carry out inspections and administrative duties associated with the requirements of this bill. No resources have been identified to support these additional responsibilities as of yet.

HB 4687 and SB 37 allowing for deer baiting each has fiscal analyses now included but the bills have not moved.

SB 174, an amendment of the Animal Industry Act, has been reviewed by the Senate Fiscal Agency which has put out a summary and fiscal analysis of the bill. Importantly, this bill and its associated tie-bars have passed the Senate with 277 yes, 21 no, and 17 excused votes. It has now been referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Committee on Ways and Means in the House.

SB 316 regarding animals for fighting has not moved; a bill analysis has been released. The fiscal analysis states that the bill would have a negative fiscal impact due to increased resource demands on law enforcement; however, such increases are heavily outweighed by the benefits of this bill.

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.

HB 4035 regarding the prohibition of breed-specific legislation has not moved.

HB 4217, SB 254, SB 248 have all been amended, however, the veterinary exemption has remained intact in all forms. Senate bills have been referred to the Committee of the Whole as HB 4217 has been referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

HB 4496 regarding the adoption of dogs used for research purposes has not moved.

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

Twitter: @MattKuhnDVM



Matt Kuhn

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