State senator pushes for stricter animal hoarding laws

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — A law designed to protect animals could come to fruition in Florida.

Republican state Sen. Greg Steube wants to make animal hoarding a criminal offense.

Jennifer Galloway, executive director of the Gulf Coast Humane Society, believes this law is necessary.

“I think what it will do is it will give a tool in the toolbox for them to be able to do something, to make it stricter so that these types of situations don’t happen again,” she said.

More than 150 incidents of animal hoarding have been reported over the past decade in Florida, including Lee County.

While arrests are often made, an animal hoarding charge doesn’t exist.

“We hear about it a lot, we see it a lot,” Galloway said. “I think a lot of times, it starts out with good intentions. They just want to help that one or two cats and it turns into 50 cats.”

The proposed bill would allow the seizure of animals whose health and welfare are in imminent danger, create a legal definition of animal hoarding and establish it as a third degree felony.

If convicted, the animal hoarder would have to undergo psychological counseling.

The bill was filed last week and will be up for consideration during the legislative session in March 2017.

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