New law punishes owners who abandon, restrain dogs during disasters

The state of Florida is cracking down on owners who abandon their dogs during natural disasters with a new law that will hit violators with harsher punishments than ever before.

Bill 1738, which is currently being reviewed in the Florida state senate, bans owners from leaving a tied up dog alone after the National Weather Service has issued a warning about natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes. The law also applies to “man made” disasters or any emergency in which evacuation orders are issued.

In addition, the bill has given veterinarians the right to anonymously report owners suspected of breaking the new rules. Owners who are caught abandoning their dogs in these situations may face a $5,000 fine and first-degree animal cruelty charges that carry up to a year of prison time under the new law.

This comes months after rescue workers found themselves having to save countless abandoned dogs during Hurricane Florence. In the video below, you’ll see some abandoned dogs being rescued from severe flooding during this disaster.

The bill was proposed by state Senator Joe Gruters, and it has already passed the state’s Agricultural Committee with no opposition. Should it be passed in the state senate, the bill will be taking effect this summer.

“We want to give these dogs a fighting chance,” Gruters said during a hearing over the bill. He added that “numerous dogs” are left tethered outdoors during major disasters like hurricanes, and that it’s time to hold owners responsible for leaving their dogs to die in these situations.

Do you support this bill? Let us know in the comments section.