Victory! NH Spares Cats With Leukemia and FIV With Passed Exemption
It has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for those from animal welfare organizations, animal shelters and residents who support a simple, 8-worded exemption in the New Hampshire's budget proposal for FY 2018.
Simple from a language standpoint, but vital and complex in its impact.
In NH, due to the wording of the current law regarding the transfer of animals, it is technically illegal for animal shelters to adopt-out cats with Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) to homes, even with those adopters' being aware of the cats diagnoses and their willingness and ability to care for such an animal.
That law lead to animal shelters providing long-term housing for those FeLV and FIV positive cats, as well as unnecessary and disheartening euthanasia. According to a 2015 survey, over 85% of NH shelters were forced to euthanize FIV positive cats due to the language of the current law.
The 8-worded exemption offered a common-sense solution allowing the lawful adoptions of FeLV and FIV positive cats from animal shelters, while maintaining the laws requiring that such transfers or adoptions are accompanied by a health certificate; ensuring those accepting the animals are aware of all known health conditions and are suitable for such situations.
Although the exemption would cost no state funds to implement, it isn't unusual for proposals that do not impact state taxes to be included in the state budget. And because it is more of a rectification of an unintentional oversight due to the wording of the current law, the NH Department of Agriculture (NHDA) agreed to that approach for submitting the exception for approval, and it was included in HB 2; the NH House's version of the state budget proposal.
With the exception included in HB 2, and with the support of the NHDA, local shelters, animal welfare organizations and numerous Granite Staters, it seemed like FeLV and FIV positive cats were well on their way to receiving the life-saving love they deserve.
However, the House was unable to come to an agreement regarding HB 2, and that bill died on the table. It was then the Senate's version of the state budget (HB 517) that was up for consideration, which unfortunately did not include the crucial FeLV/FIV exemption.
After all the hard work getting the exemption put into HB 2, that news was devastating. But rather than hang their heads down in defeat, hundreds of residents took action. The NH Committee of Conference (CofC), the committee responsible for finalizing the state budget, received hundreds of emails urging them to put the feline exemption back into the proposal.
Following the CofC's meeting, HB 517 was amended and the FeLV/FIV exemption was added back in on June 14th, and that budget was finalized and adopted by the NH Senate and NH House today.
Unfortunately, the finalized version of the budget did also include some undesirable changes, including a negatively impactful change to the inspection process for those who breed and transfer animals. You may read a little about that here, under footnote '(4) Important Note'. StraightTwist will be working on rectifying those changes in the 2018 NH legislative season and will keep you update to date on details and how you can help.
As far as the vital FeLV/FIV exemption is concerned, however, it will take effect on July 1st, 2017, and will cost the state no funds to implement, but will reduce the financial burden on NH shelters that have been struggling to provide long-term housing for FeLV and FIV positive cats. Most importantly, it will prevent unnecessary euthanasia.
Thanks to the efforts of state residents who reached out to NH legislators, future FeLV and FIV positive cats now have hope to live happily for years in suitable homes, while also providing companionship to their loving families in return.
When State Residents Speak Up For What They Believe - They Can Truly Make A Difference!
This lifesaving campaign was lead by the Humane Society of the United States and also supported by the ASPCA, NH Department of Agriculture, NH Federation of Humane Organizations, NH Veterinary Medical Association and several local NH Animal Shelters.