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Animal cruelty impasse: House, Senate hit a wall

EDITORIAL
May 19. 2018 9:36PM




Not even Jeb Bradley could fix this one.

The Wolfeboro Republican has a reputation in the New Hampshire Senate for crafting compromises on tricky legislative issues.

But he was powerless to bridge the gap between House and Senate negotiators on his bill dealing with how to pay for the care of animals seized following allegations of animal cruelty.

The high-profile mistreatment of 84 Great Danes in Wolfeboro shocked New Hampshire. Christina Fay has been found guilty of 17 counts of animal cruelty, sentenced to 90 days in jail, and ordered to pay $1.8 million to the Humane Society of the United States to cover the care and treatment of the dogs while her case was being prosecuted.

That expense prompted Bradley to introduce Senate Bill 569, which would have revamped state laws on animal breeding and required people charged with animal cruelty to post a bond to cover the costs of caring for the animals until the case's conclusion.

The House changed the bill significantly, arguing that courts should not impose such costs on animal owners who have not yet been convicted of anything. That was just one area of disagreement.

Last week, House and Senate negotiators were not able to reach a compromise, and SB 569 died in conference.

Three weeks ago, we urged the Legislature to avoid overreacting to an extreme case. Fay's neglect of so many dogs demonstrates a need to update New Hampshire's animal cruelty regulations. It should not tempt the Legislature to short-circuit due process.

Bradley certainly won't let the debate end here. We believe there is sufficient momentum for lawmakers to spend the summer hashing out their differences and bring forward a new bill next year.


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