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Senate Bill 1738 would prohibit people from leaving a dog tied up and unattended outdoors during both man-made and natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tropical storms or tornadoes, after a warning has been issued by the National Weather Service or an evacuation order has been issued by local officials.
The bill, filed by Florida lawmaker Joe Gruters earlier this month, would authorize veterinarians to report suspected violations without notifying the owner. It states that those who abandon restrained animals "commit animal cruelty" and will be subject to a fine up to $5,000 and a first-degree animal cruelty charge punishable by up to a year in prison.
The bill is currently under review by the Florida senate. If passed, it will take effect on July 1, 2019.
The proposal passed through the Senate Agricultural Committee Monday with five favorable votes and no opposition, the Miami Herald reported.
Gruters said during the committee hearing that "numerous dogs" are often left tethered when hurricanes and other disasters hit, according to the News Service of Florida.
"We want to give these dogs a fighting chance,” Gruters said, according to the Palm Beach Post.