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  • Writer's pictureGina Scrofano

Sen. Giuda Votes Against NH Animal Welfare Bill, After Cosponsoring It

When a Senator cosponsors a bill, it is a promise to residents that they will support it. Unfortunately, Senator Giuda has chosen to break that promise regarding an essential animal welfare bill.

It's an understatement that Sen. Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) did his due diligence before introducing SB 569-FN, a bill which would strengthen regulations of those who breed, sell, and shelter animals in NH. Not only did Bradley thoroughly research NH's current animal cruelty laws, but also pertinent cruelty cases that have occurred in NH within the past year.

Bradley also held approximately nine grueling stakeholder meetings for deliberations and compromise, which included the State Veterinarian, Dept. of Agriculture, the Governor's Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals, the Farm Bureau, law enforcement, the Municipal Association, the Humane Society of the United States, Dog Owners of the Granite State (American Kennel Club), Federation of Humane Organizations, Dept. of Fish and Game, and the NH ACO Association.

In addition to the fact that animal cruelty prevention is of direr importance in NH, it's likely Bradley's transparency, compromise process, and attention to detail that led to the lengthy list of bipartisan cosponsors on the bill.

One of those cosponsors is Sen. Bob Giuda (R-Warren). It is without saying that Giuda's constituents who support animal welfare were elated with his cosponsorship and implied backing of the essential bill.

However, despite Giuda's cosponsorship, he voted against the bill during the Senate floor vote on March 8th.

One might consider that the bill was amended following its introduction. However, the amendments were for minor clarifications, and slight compromises based on opposition feedback, and the bill's intent remained intact.

When comparing the bill as introduced with the amended version, it is beyond certainty that there is no justification there for Giuda's betrayal.

Being even more fair to Guida, one might consider that he raised an inquiry during the Senate floor discussion. However, even that doesn't warrant his vote in opposition.

NH law requires only 'Commercial Kennels' (aka Commercial Breeders) to be regulated by the state. Meaning, breeders who are not legally considered 'Commercial Kennels' are not inspected by the state to confirm the dogs they're breeding are provided the mere basic standards of care.

Currently, NH Law defines a 'Commercial Kennel' as a breeder that sells 10 litters or 50 puppies in a year. Not only is that a very high threshold, but it is difficult to enforce.

When any breeder sells a dog in NH, the law requires that a copy of a health certificate for the animal is sent to the Dept. of Agriculture (DOA). However, the DOA receives hundreds of thousands of those certificates per year. And upon receipt, the DOA literally puts it in a box somewhere to collect dust without any data entry or review.

To confirm a breeder sold 10 litters or 50 puppies a year, it would require sifting through thousands upon thousands of heath certificates. And that is assuming that the breeder is following current law, which irresponsible breeders likely are not doing.

Under SB 569-FN, to be considered a 'Commercial Kennel', a breeder must have 7 or more unspayed female dogs, kept for the purpose of breeding and selling the dog's offspring; for short, have 7 'breeding females.'

To determine whether or not a breeder has 7 or more unspayed female dogs, an individual need not sift through thousands of dusty documents; they can simply have a conversation with the breeder and observe the animals; looking for physical signs, such as a scar often caused by the spay surgery.

What Giuda asked on the Senate floor, was how one would prove a person's intent to breed an unspayed dog and sell their offspring, as there are individuals that own unspayed female dogs and do not breed and sell their puppies, such as mushers.

One might believe turning to those boxes full of health certificates at the DOA, as required by current law, might be easier than proving intent, but that's not the case.

First off, to even get to the point where proving someone's intent to breed their dogs and sell their puppies was necessary, it would require an action causing them to inspect the breeder's facility to begin with.

If a breeder honestly doesn't have 7 or more 'breeding females', then they simply do not apply for a 'Commercial Kennel' license and go on with their lives.

If an honest and responsible breeder does have 7 or more 'breeding females', they would apply for a 'Commercial Kennel' license. No need to prove intent there, they're confirming their intent by applying for the license.

Now, if a breeder has 7 or more unspayed females, and they don't apply for a 'Commercial Kennel' license, but someone witnesses animal cruelty at that breeders facility and files a complaint against them, that is when the need to prove intent comes into play.

It is at that point that it must be determined if the breeder had the 7 or more unspayed females for the purpose of breeding and selling their offspring, to confirm whether or not they were in violation for not obtaining a 'Commercial Kennel' license under SB 569-FN. Again, this can be done in conversation with the breeder, inspecting the facility, and observing the dogs, rather than spending numerous days going through boxes at the DOA.

Along with the intent to breed and sell dogs also comes advertising. Clearly, if a musher owns 7 unspayed female dogs and they're not breeding them and selling their puppies, they're not going to have online 'for sale' advertisements, websites, and social media pages created to sell them. However, a breeder with 7 or more unspayed females intending on breeding and selling puppies surely would.

Overall, SB 569-FN's proposed 'Commercial Kennel' definition lowers the current extremely high threshold of 10 liters/50 puppies sold per year, which allows for more oversight and reduces the risk of animal cruelty. It also provides a more sensible and enforceable law that doesn't rely on paperwork that the DOA isn't even reviewing, and that dishonest breeders aren't submitting.

When Giuda asked his question about proving a breeder's intent, Bradley's response included similar information as described above, and if he felt confused by Bradley's answer, he did not demonstrate that by following up with any further inquiries.

Additionally, amendments to the bill had no bearing on Giuda's question on the floor, which means he had from the date the bill was introduced, January 3rd, to March 8th to express concerns. And regardless, when considering the facts, his question is nullified.

Bottom line, Giuda cosponsored SB 569-FN. If he opposed the bill, he shouldn't have put his name on it. Instead, he made a promise to support the bill by cosponsoring it and then failed to keep that promise when he unjustifiably voted against it.

Residents often ask why it is that common-sense animal welfare laws are so difficult to pass in NH. The truth is, it is actions like that of Sen. Giuda, and other individuals with special interests, who turn what seems to be a legislative 'no-brainer' into such a battle. We can only hope that this vital bill will make it through the many barriers that still lie ahead.

Sen. Giuda was unavailable for immediate comment. A message was left for him through his aid at the State House on March 9th. Giuda has yet to respond.

Deadline: March 22nd - 8am

Despite Giuda's disappointing actions, the Senate passed SB 569-FN by a vote of 19-5 on March 8th. The appropriations included in the bill was also passed by the Senate Finance Committee with a vote of 4-2 on March 20th. The bill must now pass the full Senate one more time before moving on to the House.

1. Check The Roll Call

Check the roll call below to see how your Senator voted on March 8th. (A 'Yes' equals support of SB 569-FN)

2. Call Your Senator

If they voted in favor, you may call to thank them and urge them to continue their support when voting again on March 22nd. If they voted in opposition, you may kindly urge them to reconsider and vote in support of SB 569-FN on March 22nd. You may find your Senator's contact info here. You will speak with the Senator's assistant, or receive a voicemail after hours.

Not exactly sure what to say?

Click here and go to the 'What Can I Do' section for some examples.

3. My Senator Is Bob Giuda, What Do I Do?

You may call to kindly inquire why he voted in opposition to SB 569-FN, and urge him to stand by the promise he made when he cosponsored SB 569-FN by voting in support of it on March 22nd.


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