The latest rendition of a law aiming to keep pets out of animal abusers’ hands is making its way through the Michigan Legislature again.
Two of four bills in the Logan’s Law package made it through the Senate Thursday, and are awaiting passage out of the House Judicial Committee.
Another two bills are on the House floor and could see a vote soon.
“We got word Monday that they might be up for a vote this week,” said Bryan Modelski, legislative director for Rep. Paul Muxlow’s office.
The package requires nonprofit animal shelters to run a criminal background check on anyone attempting to adopt an animal.
The package requires nonprofit shelters to deny an adoption to anyone who has been convicted of animal abuse within the past five years. It also requires that convicted animal abusers are prohibited from adopting another animal for five years.
“It would allow these nonprofits to check to make sure somebody has not been convicted of a horrible crime of neglecting animals, abusing animals,” said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.
“They would be able to access that and not adopt out another victim.”
The laws would not apply to for-profit pet shops.
Use of the Michigan State Police’s Internet Criminal History Access Tool database is available to anyone for a fee of $10. Logan’s Law would waive the fee for animal shelters operated by a local or county government or by a nonprofit human society or animal rescue.
“Some of these shelters work on a shoestring budget and if they adopted out 10 animals a day they simply cannot afford to pay for that,” Jones said.
The bipartisan package includes bills introduced by Jones; Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren; Rep. Harvey Santana, D-Detroit; and Muxlow, R-Brown City.
Bieda said he feels strongly about the bills and what they will do for animals.
"I just felt it was a very commonsense way of protecting people's pets from being abused," Bieda said.
The original package of bills entitled Logan’s Law was introduced by Muxlow after a March 2012 incident in which a Wales Township husky named Logan was blinded by an acid burn. The dog died a few months later.
Logan’s owner, Matt Falk, believed someone intentionally splashed the battery acid. Logan’s story spurred Falk to ask for legislative action.
Modelski said the fact that the Senate bills passed 37-1 was encouraging. He said Muxlow has been working on the bills for about four years.
“He’s pretty thrilled,” Modelski said. “This is one of the loose ends he’s had since he’s been a legislator. And he’s been trying to get these passed out in his final year in the House.”
Unlike earlier revisions of Logan’s Law that included an animal abuse registry, using the ICHAT system for criminal background check would come at little to no cost to the state.
“Initially, representatives Santana and Muxlow were trying to come up with the registry similar to the sex offender registry, but the problem with that is its very expensive and it would come out of the Michigan State Police budget,” Jones said.
Officials expect House Bills 4353 and 4355 will get a vote in the House some time this week. Senate Bills 219 and 220 passed out of the Senate Thursday and now are in the House Judiciary Committee.
"It's important that people continue to contact their legislators," Bieda said. "I think that's why it moved in the Senate."