for the GEORGIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The Georgia General Assembly convened on January 11 and finished with Sine Die in the early hours of April 1. As anticipated, animal related bills were not the session’s priority; however, a few were introduced, and one passed that will benefit local governments in large scale animal impound cases.
Summary of Animal Related Bills Introduced in 2021:
HB 574 - PASSED
During the final hour on the last day of the 2021 Legislative Session, HB 574 passed the Senate and now heads to Governor Kemp for signing into law. This measure will use a percentage of licensing fees collected by the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) to reimburse expenses incurred by local governments for large scale impound cases of dogs (29+), cats (29+) and equines (9+). The law will complement the Cost of Animal Care law passed in 2016. The GPC supported this bill.
Bill Language: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59922
HR 191 AND SR 121 - PASSED
World Spay Day Resolutions were adopted in the House and Senate, in honor of World Spay Day 2021. The GPC supported these resolutions.
House Resolution: https://legiscan.com/GA/bill/HR191/2021
Senate Resolution: https://legiscan.com/GA/bill/SR121/2021
This bill prohibits the sale of dogs, cats and domestic rabbits in poorly regulated outdoor locations such as parking lots and roadsides. This measure is an important step towards limiting sale opportunities for Georgia’s many unlicensed and “backyard” breeders. The bill received a hearing in the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs committee, but not a vote. As such, it is still viable for 2022. The GPC lobby team leads this bill on behalf of the Georgia Alliance for Companion Animal Protection.
Enhanced bill language has already been offered as substitute, but basic info is here: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59984
This bill appears to improve conditions for breeding dogs via enhanced GDA regulations. Though seemingly well intentioned, the language is flawed and would actually create a bigger loophole for unlicensed backyard breeding than already exists in the regulations. Currently, the bill sits in the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, and has not had a hearing yet but is still viable for 2022.
Current Bill Language: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/60552
Parimutuel Betting / Horse Racing Bills
Six bills were introduced to legalize parimutuel betting and the establishment of three horse racing tracks in Georgia, though none passed. These bills do not contain “Horse Racing” in the title. Titles include “Rural Jobs and Growth Acts” and “Destination Resort Facilities/Casinos.” The GPC is opposed to horse racing for many reasons including the resultant overbreeding and lack of adequate, lifelong care for retired Thoroughbreds.
Pet Stores and Puppy Mills
The retail pet store industry registered 5 lobbyists for the 2021 Legislative Session. As far as we know, they did not introduce their preemption language, which would have overturned Georgia’s 12 local ordinances prohibiting the retail sales of dogs and cats in pet stores. The GPC will continue to monitor any attempts by the pet store industry to pass a bill or amendment that take away authority from local governments to regulate pet sales. Please tell your state lawmakers to safeguard local ordinances which regulate unethical business practices related to pet sales.
Courtesy of Georgia Pet Coalition • www.gapetcoalition.com