Florida lawmakers propose legislation for lost pets

Posted at 4:44 PM, Jan 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-16 12:54:20-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Some Florida lawmakers are proposing regulations when it comes to lost or stray pets from natural disasters.

It was quite the sight at the capitol Tuesday, with furry friends in front of the house chamber. Adorable as they may be, they're the face of a serious issue in the state.

"Pets can be almost an extension of your own family, and to lose one inadvertently, because a shelter doesn't have the right procedures and policies in place can be devastating," said Rep. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), who is a co-sponsor of HB 823.

The ASPCA says hundreds of pets were lost in Florida due to Hurricane Irma, prompting a bipartisan effort to reunite families called House Bill 823.

"Scanning dogs for microchips, making sure that we're checking for ID tags, making sure that we're trying to contact pet owners who are looking for their lost pets,"said Jen Hobgood, the director of state legislation at the southeast region of ASPCA.

House Democratic leader Janet Cruz says she saw firsthand how serious the problem was in Puerto Rico.

"Was triple of anything that I've seen, maybe perhaps quadruple, so I saw what could happen in time of true devastation, and that's why I bring this bill forward," said Cruz (D-Tampa).

Andy was rescued from Puerto Rico, where thousands of stray dogs were left behind after Hurricane Maria. The hope is that this legislation will help Floridians reconnect with their pets.

"What Leader Cruz is trying to do with this legislation is standardize and elevate this life-saving practice across the state," said Hobgood.

Giving humane societies and animal shelters the guidance they need to find where these guys belong.

A similar bill has been filed in the Florida senate. Republican senator Greg Steube from Sarasota and Manatee counties is sponsoring Senate Bill 15-76.