CONCORD – Cats would be on equal footing with dogs in a bill requiring drivers to report to police or a pet’s owner when they kill or injure a feline on the road, a protection dogs have had for 40 years in New Hampshire.
Anyone who violated this protection could face a fine of up to $1,000.
State Rep. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem, sponsored the bill (HB 174) after his family’s pet, a partially blind cat named Arrow, was hit by a car and left to die.
On Thursday the state Senate approved a slightly different version of the House-passed bill.
State Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, said the change would mean more injured cats will get medical attention, and families of cats that were killed would get closure.
But supporters got some pushback from a quartet of powerful Senate Republican leaders who voted against the amended bill, including Senate President Chuck Morse.
Senate Ways and Means Chairman Robert Giuda, R-Warren, said this was another example of well-intended over-regulation by state government.
“I decry the continued further and further intrusion into the actions of the people that we represent,” Giuda said.
“This will not be for a lack of love of cats for which our family has had many over the years,” he said.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Gary Daniels, R-Milford, who also opposed the bill, said many times the owner of the injured cat isn’t known.
“What should you do with the animal in the meantime?” Daniels asked rhetorically.
Birdsell answered, “You don’t have to do anything with the animal; you just have to report it.”
The fourth, Senate opponent, Sen. Harold French, R-Canterbury, chairs the Senate Commerce Committee.
If passed into law, New Hampshire will join New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in protecting cats in hit-and-run accidents.
The bill now goes back to the House of Representatives to consider how the Senate amended the bill before voting to pass it, 20-4.
The only change was symbolic, but potentially politically-sensitive, since it takes out any reference to Abbas’ late cat. The House bill had been known as “Arrow’s Law.”
Gov. Chris Sununu said he stands ready to sign the bill if it reaches his desk, which is likely in the coming weeks.
“You bet I will ... Cats and dogs, dogs and cats, you can’t have one without the other,” Sununu recently told reporters.