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New Florida Law Puts Pets First

Tallahassee (WTFF) – A new law in Florida makes it easier for pet lovers to reunite with their lost furry friends, and imposes stricter punishments on animal abusers.

SB 1576 was signed into law on March 26, 2018.

Rick Scott ceremoniously signed the bill with Police Chief Frank Fabrizio of Ponce Inlet, and Debbie Taylor Darino, who started the petition pushing for these changes.

“Ponce’s Law” is named in honor of the 9-month-old puppy found beaten to death in Ponce Inlet. The case against Travis Archer, accused of cruelty to animals, has been open since April 8, 2017.

The law takes effect October 1, 2018. You can find the entire bill here, and read a synopsis below:


Help Owners Find Lost Pets

This law creates a more streamlined system for animal shelters and humane societies to communicate with the public about lost pets.

Public and private shelters must publicly list any stray dogs or cats they find, and make “reasonable efforts to notify identified owners.” They must check for tags, licenses, microchips, and, because this is Florida, tattoos.

Public notice is required within 48 hours of the animal’s admission. Records are to be made “available to the public pursuant to chapter 119.”

The shelter must stay open to the public at least one day of the weekend.

Natural disasters merit “extension of local minimum stray hold periods,” so if the Governor declares a state of emergency, your pets get an extended stay.

The bill does not mention how public and private shelters will pay for these extra hours of work, or the technology, infrastructure, and training associated with all these responsibilities.

Protect Pets

Facilities must check for microchips before committing any dog or cat to euthanasia. They must use a universal scanner immediately before the procedure, to avoid the accidental euthanasia of pets.

Adjust Old Language

The updated text makes some adjustments to the language in section 828.12 – Cruelty to animals.

The old language said basically: someone who purposely trips a horse “shall be guilty of a third degree felony.” The new modernized language removes the word “guilty” and replaces that line with “commits a felony of the third degree.”

Increase Offense Severity

This law raises the severity of animal torture from a Level 3 offense to a Level 5. By moving the crime of “Tortures any animal with intent to inflict intense pain, serious physical injury, or death” up the severity chart, judges may prescribe more appropriate sentences for the horrific act of animal torture, based on their “Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet.”

Prohibit Abusers from Owning Animals

The court may rule to prohibit certain convicted animal abusers from owning any animal, for any period of time they determine.


This is a proud moment for animal lovers, and for the beautiful state of Florida. We hope this law keeps our four-legged friends safe, and punishes those who wish to do harm.

How does this law affect you as an animal shelter or humane society? How do you as a pet owner feel about this law? Please Contact Us and let us know.

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