An Oklahoma legislator has introduced a bill that would create a major exception to the state's current animal cruelty laws, by allowing pet-owners to "dispose" of pets with the assistance of firearms. State Rep. Steve Martin, the bill's sponsor, believes the new measures put forth in HB 2613 would merely legalize a method of "euthanasia" already in practice throughout the state.
"Euthanizing your own animal with a firearm in Oklahoma is done all the time," Martin said. "People have animals that, for one reason or another, they're either sick or old or for some reason, not suitable to go to a new home, and it is as painless to euthanize an animal with a firearm, if it's done humanely, as any other method."
The bill would remove protections for animals that, at present, can only be killed in cases of self-defense or defense of livestock. Additionally, HB 2613 would not require pet-owners to seek alternatives to shooting their animals to death, such as putting them up for adoption or bringing them to shelters, where pets who do require euthanasia can be put down using more humane methods. Martin's bill also aims to reduce the penalties for a number of animal cruelty crimes, including "unnecessary" cruelty to an animal by neglect.
Animal welfare groups have already announced their opposition to the bill, citing various possible negative outcomes should HB 2613 be signed into law. Cynthia Armstrong, director of the Oklahoma Humane Society, said Martin's bill is likely to lead to a number of unforeseen consequences.
"What if somebody tries to shoot an animal with a gun and kill it with one shot but they miss, or the animal moves?" Armstrong told NewsOK. "The unintended consequences of what he's doing are greater than a ‘problem' [Martin] is trying to solve."