Americans have a Bill of Rights to guarantee civil rights and liberties, so why don’t our pets? It’s estimated that 45% of households own a dog, and 26% of households own a cat, so why shouldn’t our furry friends have guaranteed basic rights?

A California lawmaker introduced a bill that would create a dog and cat Bill of Rights into the state law. This law would require every animal shelter and animal rescue group to display the said rights on their premises.

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, Democrat-Los Angeles, introduced Assembly Bill 1881, which states seven fundamental rights that every dog and cat in California would have if passed:

  • freedom from exploitation, cruelty, neglect, and abuse
  • a life of comfort, free of fear and anxiety
  • daily mental stimulation and appropriate exercise
  • nutritious food, sanitary water, and shelter in an appropriate and safe environment
  • preventive and therapeutic health care
  • proper identification through tags, microchips, or other humane means
  • spaying and neutering to prevent unwanted litters

The bill is sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation, an animal advocacy group. The group’s founder and president, Judie Mancuso, released a statement saying:

“Those rights go beyond just food, water, and shelter. As stated in the bill, dogs and cats have the right to be respected as sentient beings who experience complex feelings common among living animals while being unique to each individual. We’re thrilled to be codifying this into law.”

However, the proposed law falls short of punishing residents who violate one of these rights. Assemblyman Santiago said the Bill of Rights could still help avoid animal cruelty, as animal cruelty can also be not taking a dog on a walk, socializing, or spending time with them.

The California Animal Welfare Association, which represents the state’s animal shelters and rescue groups, is now reviewing the legislation and may propose changes to the bill, which could be in law by January 2023. This could be a historic moment for California’s beloved cats and dogs.

Sign this petition to urge Utah legislators to pass this new bill and allow people who get legal orders of protection to extend those to their pets as well!

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