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  • Writer's pictureGina Scrofano

NH Committee of Conference Puts Crucial Feline Leukemia Exemption 'On Hold' For Further Review

An exemption which would prevent unnecessary euthanasia, by allowing cats with Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) to be adopted from NH shelters into suitable homes, was initially included in the House version of the NH State 2018 FY budget proposal (HB 2). However, the House was unable to agree on that budget proposal, and the bill died on the table.

Following the unfortunate failure of the House version of the budget, it was the Senate's turn to take a crack at it and apparently, their swing did not include sparing the lives of NH cats with FeLV and FIV, because the exemption was omitted from their proposal (HB 517).

FeLV and FIV are not contagious to humans and are very manageable conditions when cats with them are placed into appropriate homes. However, because the minor chance of FeLV or FIV transferring from one cat to another, it is technically considered contagious. Therefore, currently illegal for animal shelters to adopt those cats out to families, due to the unintentional way the language of the current law is written.

Although it seems like these conditions would mean an immediate death sentence for cats, that is not the case. Research is showing that cats with FIV can live happily for years.

Although proposed in the budget, implementation of the exemption will be at no cost to the state. In fact, it would save local shelters funds, as opposed to providing long-term housing for cats with FeLV and FIV, or being forced into disheartening euthanasia (which is also an expense), the exemption would allow those cats to be adopted into loving homes; saving lives and much-needed funds at the same time.

With the above in mind, as animal welfare organizations, local shelters and concerned resident's started to get wind that the exemption was not included in the Senate's proposal, they started sending emails and making calls to the Committee of Conference; the group of legislators which have the near impossible responsibility of finalizing the budget.

Saying some emails were sent is an understatement. It was said on June 9th, during a Committee of Conference meeting, that Committee members received hundreds of emails urging them to put the cat exemption back into the proposal. Committee members referred to the exemption during their meetings, sometimes making lighthearted jokes, due to the sheer popularity of the exemption. It just may be one of the most talked about issues in the history of NH budget proposals.

The Committee of Conference has yet to put the entire section of the proposal, which happens to include the small 8-word exemption back into the bill, but has decided to put it on hold further review.

Members of the Committee will be reviewing all information regarding that section, including insight provided by the NH Department of Agriculture, as well as the NH Veterinary Medical Association, both of which support the exemption.

The Committee has until June 12th to determine whether or not the FeLV/FIV exemption will be included in the finalized budget. StraightTwist will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

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