Last week Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R – Muscle Shoals) introduced HB 305 which takes aim at pet owners with outdoor dogs and cats who do not provide adequate shelter. Under existing law, a person commits the crime of cruelty to a dog or cat in the second degree if he or she deprives the animal of necessary shelter.
Sorrell’s bill would further define what shelter is in order to better enforce the intention of the current law.
The bill will define a shelter as a measure by which a dog or cat regularly maintained outdoors is reasonably protected from the elements, including heat, cold, wind, and water. The measure shall have a roof, sides, and be of a size to allow the animal to enter, turn around, and lie down.
The bill is very similar to one from 2018, HB 256. That bill included a requirement for a floor, which was an issue for farmers who have dogs and cats living in barns. HB 256 failed in the House.
Sorrell’s bill removes the floor requirement which should ease opposition from farmers.