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Utah’s 2022 Legislative Session Recap: Companion Animal Bills

HB 476 Protest rally at Utah State Capitol
HB 476 protest rally at Utah State Capitol.

Utah’s 2022 legislative session ended on March 5, 2022 and what a busy session it was! Our advocacy team spent every day of the session at the capitol, educating our legislators on the importance of protecting animals and making sure our furry friends’ voices were heard. 

We had a very big win this year, securing protections for pets, and additional protections for humans, in domestic violence situations. We had a second big win in defeating a bill that would have opened the floodgates to puppy mills in Utah. 

While we had a couple of (big!) wins, other animal bills did not fare quite as well. Read on for a breakdown of companion animal-related bills and their outcomes from the 2022 session.

Our Bills

H.B. 175 – Protection of Animals Amendments PASSED!

Run in partnership with our friends at Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering, H.B. 175 was sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero (District 26) and sponsored on the floor by Sen. David Hinkins (District 27). 

After passing both houses of the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support, this bill was signed into law by Gov. Spencer Cox in late March of 2022. 

HSU and Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering staff stand with Representative Angela Romero
HSU and Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering staff stand with Representative Angela Romero in the Utah State Capitol building.

The new law allows courts to include household animals in protection-from-abuse orders (including domestic violence, dating violence, cohabitant abuse, and child abuse protective orders) and expands the “emotional distress” resulting from harm to an animal in domestic violence cases to also include cases of stalking.

H.B. 92 – Transportation of Dogs ActFailed

Sponsored by Rep. Ashlee Matthews (District 37), this bill would have required dogs transported on Utah’s freeways in open back trucks (including flatbeds) to be cross-tethered or in a secured crate. 

Despite the commonsense nature of this bill, it received strong opposition from two members of the House of Representatives at its committee hearing. One member made a point to state that there was nothing wrong with the bill itself and that we had considered the interests of all stakeholders, but that he would never vote for such a bill. 

With the failure of this bill, we head into another summer of dogs clinging to hold on in the back of trucks on the freeway, burning paws on the hot metal, and breathing in significant amounts of debris while distracted drivers look on in horror. 

A scared dog rides on the back of a flatbed truck traveling at high speeds on a busy Utah Highway.

If you want to see dogs protected during transport on our freeways, call your representative and senator to demand it.

Bills We Strongly Opposed

H.B. 476 – Local Agriculture AmendmentsFAILED!

Backed by pro-puppy mill lobbyists, H.B. 476 would have erased local regulations of animal-related businesses and prevented future protections for animals on the local level. In simple terms: this bill, if passed, would have opened Utah to completely unregulated puppy mills and the stores that sell animals from puppy and kitten mills. 

HSU and other animal advocates rally on the steps of the Utah State Capitol building to protest H.B. 476.

However, we, along with half a dozen other animal welfare organizations and thousands of amazing supporters like you, defeated this bill! Your calls and emails to your representatives and senators helped our legislature realize that this was a bad bill with horrible consequences for the beloved animals of Utah. This bill thankfully died before a vote in the senate. Unfortunately, the same concept will undoubtedly be re-introduced in the next session. We will be there to fight it every step of the way.

Other Companion Animal Legislation

Several other bills were filed with the legislature this year to bring additional protections to companion animals in our state. Some made it all the way to the end of the session but were not voted on before the clock struck midnight on the night of March 5. Others never made it out of committee. Here is a quick rundown of those bills:

SB69 – Animal Shelter RevisionsFailed

This bill would have eliminated gas chamber euthanasia in Utah shelters. 

SB165 – Animal Cruelty Modifications Failed

This bill would have expanded Utah’s animal cruelty code to better define proper care for an animal, including a more substantial definition of what constitutes “shelter.”

HB112 – Animal Fighting PenaltiesFailed

This bill would have expanded the definition of “animal” in Utah’s anti-dog fighting statute to include all animals. 

HB306 – Cosmetic Sale AmendmentsFailed

This bill would have banned the sale in Utah of cosmetics tested on animals. 

While perhaps not the strongest year for companion animal protection, the number of animal protection bills introduced in the 2022 legislative session did prove one thing: Utahns care about companion animals and want to see them treated well. And we agree! We will keep fighting on the local, state, and federal level to secure protections for pets and the human-animal bond. We hope you will join us.  
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