Rodeos, Dogs And The Legislature, Oh My!

Though the Oregon Legislature is still tied up in session, Oregon dogs will no longer be tied up on short leashes or for long periods of time, thanks to an anti-dog-tethering bill. That’s just one of several animal-oriented bills that came up this session. Animal advocates are cheering the ones that have passed (and cheering some that died) and expect some more good news for the beasties to come through before the session ends.

The dog-tethering bill, House Bill 2783, was signed into law June 13. It basically says domestic animals (not horses or livestock) cannot be tied “with a tether that is not a reasonable length given the size of the domestic animal and available space,” and the animal should not be able to get tangled up in it in a way that will hurt it. It also says that the pet cannot be tied with a pinch or choke collar and can’t be tied for more than 10 out of 24 hours. It gives exceptions for things like campgrounds and certain working dogs.

Scott Beckstead, Oregon director for the Humane Society of the United States, is among those celebrating the wins for animals in Oregon. He points out that among the bills that didn’t make it through this session were ones that would change Oregon’s current voter-mandated ban on hunting cougars with hounds.

A bill banning horse tripping in Oregon — roping a galloping horse by the neck and legs and intentionally causing it to fall — passed in the House (57-1) and Senate (22-6) and now moves to the governor’s desk. Beckstead cites the leadership of Sen. Mark Hass, Rep. David Gomberg and House Majority Leader Val Hoyle in moving the bill forward and eliminating “the embarrassing disgrace of horse tripping from the Oregon landscape.”

Kendra Kimbirauskas, who testified in favor of the bill, says, “As someone involved in the horse industry, I have been ashamed and embarrassed that horse tripping was legal in this state.” She says Republicans and Democrats joined together to stop “this horrific practice.”

According to Capital Press, an agricultural newspaper, even the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association is OK with the bill, and it quotes lobbyist Jim Walsh as saying, “We would much rather have not had any bill. But we got everybody to agree on this, and this keeps our small community rodeos alive, and they can have their event.” Horses can be roped but not intentionally tripped.

Still in the Senate is SB 6, which would increase punishment for animal neglect and increase fines and jail time for people who have more than 10 animals or are repeat offenders. It would also require animal rescues to get licenses, maintain certain records and be inspected.

Also awaiting a Senate vote is a bill that represents a landmark agreement between conservationists, the state and ranchers. HB 3452 allows ranchers to kill a wolf without a permit if it is caught in the act of eating or biting livestock or a working dog. If a rancher has tried to deter a wolf using things like noise and flagging, but the wolf “chronically” preys on livestock then it also can be shot. The bill passed out of the Senate Rules Committee with a “do pass” recommendation on June 18.