SALT LAKE CITY — A bill defining "adequate shelter" for purposes of enforcing animal welfare laws narrowly passed the Senate earlier this week, but its sponsor isn't sure how it will fare in the House.
"I have no idea if we can get it prioritized," Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, said of his SB91.
Davis' bill would only apply to Salt Lake County. It defines what is meant by "shelter" in the law so animal control can properly respond to calls, he said.
The bill defines shelter for animals other than a dog as "natural or artificial protection against inclement weather and direct sunlight."
Shelter for dogs, under the bill, means a "barn, doghouse or other enclosed structure" that "is sufficiently sound to protect against inclement weather and extreme temperatures; prevents penetration by moisture; includes, in an appropriate size for the dog, a floor with a solid surface, a roof, coverage on all sides, a door or entry portal, and sufficient space to allow for freedom of movement; contains hay, straw, bedding, or a safe, artificial heat source, that allows the dog to maintain a normal body temperature; and is adequately ventilated and clean."
The bill says that an animal may not be tethered and unattended at a personal residence in a way that prevents it from reaching adequate shelter while it is exposed to "hail, snow or severe weather."
The bill failed in a previous vote on the Feb. 28 amid concerns that it was too broad and could potentially impact hunters, campers and rural farm animals in unfair ways. Davis described the version of the his bill that passed the Senate as "very narrow."Comment on this story
He expressed hopefulness that other counties in Utah would take up his definition of shelter for animal welfare, but they would have to enact it themselves, he said.
Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, rose in support of Davis' bill on the floor Monday.
"I appreciate how hard he has worked to make this a better bill and to make it as fair for the accused as it is for the animals,” Thatcher said.
But Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, spoke against the bill, saying the Farm Bureau says to not support it as it is dangerous to animals' welfare.
The Senate narrowly passed the bill by a 15-13 vote. It now awaits consideration in the House.