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Bobby Olszewski files bill to protect pets during emergencies

After hearing what he called “horrible” stories of pets being left chained outside during Hurricane Irma, state Rep. Bobby Olszewski has filed a bill that would make that against the law in Florida, requiring owners to do all they can to get shelter for their animal companions.

House Bill 907 would kick in anytime an emergency evacuation is ordered, requiring pet owners to take their pets with them or find safe and secure places for the pets.

State Sen. Victor Torres, an Orlando Democrat, intends to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.

“Unfortunately during Hurricane Irma there were horrible accounts of people leaving their pets unattended outside with some even tied to a tree to fend for themselves without shelter during the hurricane,” Olszewski, a Winter Garden Republican, said in a news release. “This law will penalize individuals who do not secure shelter for their domestic companion animals in addition to allowing law enforcement to secure and shelter these pets when the Governor has issued an evacuation order during a declared state of emergency.”

Violators would be subject to civil fines.

The bill defines the distinction between pets – “domestic companion animals” – and service animals or livestock. The bill would not apply to livestock.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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