The bill requires the commissioner of the department of agriculture (commissioner) to develop, implement, and maintain an online pet animal registration system (system).
The bill establishes the pet animal registration enterprise (enterprise) in the department of agriculture to provide business services to pet animal owners who pay pet registration fees to the enterprise by developing, implementing, maintaining, and administering the pet animal registration system, connecting pet animals with their owners and designated caregivers when and after emergencies occur, and protecting pet animals by supporting animal shelters that are caretakers of last resort.
A pet animal owner must register the pet animal in the system annually for a fee set by the enterprise, which must be no more than $8.50 annually per pet animal with a designated caregiver, $16 annually per pet animal that is a dog or cat that is not neutered or spayed and has a designated caregiver, and $25 annually per pet animal without a designated caregiver. The fee set by the enterprise is in addition to any pet registration or licensing fee assessed by any other jurisdiction. The enterprise will collect both state and local fees and transmit any fee levied by another jurisdiction to that jurisdiction and the fee levied by the state to the newly created pet animal registration cash fund. The state's fee will be used to develop, implement, maintain, and administer the system and reimburse animal shelters for the cost of taking custody of a pet animal for which a caregiver cannot be located or has refused to take custody.
The bill also requires a pet animal owner to designate a caregiver for the owner's pet animal. The caregiver is responsible for the care and safekeeping of the pet animal during an emergency that incapacitates the pet animal owner. First responders will use the system to identify the designated caregiver of the pet animal and notify the caregiver of the incapacitation of the pet animal's owner. A caregiver must agree to be responsible for the pet animal. If a caregiver later refuses to take custody of the pet animal or cannot be located, a first responder will place the pet animal in an animal shelter. Only first responders and the department of public health and environment are allowed to use the system.
The bill specifies that to own a pet animal without registering the pet animal; to refuse or fail to comply with the provisions of the bill; to make a material misstatement in a registration application, a registration renewal application, or to the department of agriculture; or to refuse or fail to comply with any rules or regulations adopted by the commissioner is unlawful. An unlawful act is punishable by a civil penalty in an amount set by the commissioner but not to exceed $100 per unlawful act. If the commissioner is unable to collect the civil penalty, the commissioner may sue to recover the civil penalty or refuse to renew a registration.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)