It’s official, on March 23, Governor Rick Scott signed SB 1576 Ponce’s Animal Welfare Law (Steube, Leek, Cruz—combined bills HB 823/HB473/SB 952)! This important bill will help keep Florida’s human and animal communities safe by strengthening Florida’s animal cruelty law and elevating and standardizing animal sheltering efforts to reunite lost pets with their families.
Here are the 9 criteria outlined by the new law:
1. Upon intake, screening of lost or stray dogs and cats for identification, including tags, licenses, implanted microchips, and tattoos.
2. A process for matching received lost or stray dogs and cats with any reports of lost pets received by the shelter from owners.
3. Public notice of lost or stray dogs and cats received, provided at the shelter or on the Internet, as appropriate, within 48 hours of the animal’s admission.
4. Reasonable efforts to notify identified owners of lost or stray dogs and cats within 48 hours of identification.
5. Notice to the public of the shelter’s location, hours, fees, and the return-to-owner process posted on the Internet, with the shelter’s business hours posted outside the shelter facility and recorded on the shelter’s telephone answering system message.
6. Access for owners to retrieve dogs and cats at least 1 weekend day per week and after 5:00 p.m.
7. Direct return-to-owner protocols that allow animal control officers in the field to directly return lost or stray dogs and cats to their owners.
8. Procedural safeguards to minimize the euthanasia of owned dogs and cats.
9. Temporary extension of local minimum stray hold periods