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A new bill that had been fast-tracked in Utah’s House of Representatives, which could severely jeopardise any advance in animal protection achieved in the State, has failed in the Senate. On 24th February 2022, Rep. Joel Ferry introduced the Animal Enterprise Protection bill (House Bill 476) in Utah. It went to the House Rules Committee the same day, to the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee the following day, and received its second and third readings in the House by 1st March. But when it went to the Senate, it failed to pass on 4th May. 

This controversial bill stated that it “prohibits a municipality or a county from adopting or enforcing an ordinance or other regulation that prohibits or effectively prohibits the operation of an animal enterprise or the use of a working animal.” It defined Animal enterprise as “a commercial or academic enterprise that uses or sells animals or animal products for profit, food or fiber production, agriculture, education, research, or testing”, including “an animal competition, aquarium, circus, exposition, fair, farm, feedlot, furrier, retail pet store, ranch, rodeo, zoo, or an event intended to exhibit or    advance agricultural arts and sciences.”

Had it been passed, any local government (city, town, metro township or county) would not have been able to ban any activity that kills or harms animals in any way, as long as they did it for profit and it was not against state or federal law. It is illogical that the bill allowed for local authorities to regulate inflicting suffering to animals but not to stop it. They could regulate to allow any new form of animal exploitation proposed, but if they then discovered it causes unacceptable and unnecessary animal suffering, then they could not stop it. Fortunately, the Senate has seen through this inconsistency.

After it had initially passed in the House, protests erupted on the steps of Utah’s Capitol Building, which may have influenced the Senate’s decision to ditch it. Dr Crystal Heath, veterinarian and founded Our Honor, said to UnchainedTV the following: “I am very happy the bill is dead. The protests really sent a message to the politicians that people are watching and they have to prioritize the best interests of the public and the animals and not just corporate interests. It’s a victory for the animals and let’s hope something like this doesn’t come up again in the future. We have to stay organized and together so that, when these things come up, we can act and stop them and protect the animals. We have to watch for such bills popping up in other states and we have to stay vigilant against these powerful corporate interests.”