I read with interest, Mr. Norman Horton’s July 21 letter in the Dothan Eagle, (Hot Cars, Cold Response). Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but Mr. Horton’s piece makes some statements not based in fact. I would like to go on record with a few corrections.

In 2017, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) supported HB 524 filed by state Rep. Christopher England related to animals left in hot cars. HSUS did not just support the bill, it sponsored a lobby day for Holt High School students who brought the issue before Rep. England and secured him as a bill sponsor. That same year, HSUS supported SB 273 proposed by Mr. Horton and filed by state Sen. Jimmy Holley, allowing therapy dogs to be present in courtrooms under certain circumstances. HSUS also supported SB10, in 2019, proposed by Mr. Horton pertaining to service dogs. In 2019, HSUS also supported SB 61, filed by state Sen. Del Marsh. This was a Good Samaritan bill that allowed, under certain circumstances, an individual to remove an animal at risk in a vehicle without liability. A similar bill, SB 262, was proposed by Mr. Horton and filed by Sen. Holley.

HSUS and the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association opposed SB262.The opposition was based on certain language in the bill , specifically, “The ambient interior temperature of the motor vehicle is greater than 99 degrees Fahrenheit, the animal's internal temperature exceeds the heat exhaustion threshold for that species by one degree Fahrenheit.” HSUS consulted with nationally known forensic veterinarian Dr. Melinda Merck, who said, “there is no medical basis for that.” Aside from that opinion, HSUS felt the bill was unenforceable because of the specific language about a specific temperature (which would have to be measured and proven).

Because Houston County does not provide a county animal shelter, HSUS has been proud to respond to Houston County law enforcement requests for help in large scale, animal cruelty cases. In 2011, 228 animals were seized in a case that resulted in conviction upon appeal and in 2016, 65 dogs were the subject of another case that resulted in felony convictions by jury. HSUS assisted in evidence collection, animal housing /care, and transfer to adoption partners, all at no charge to the local jurisdiction.

The puzzling reference by Mr. Horton to “a highly paid director in the Birmingham area” seems out of context in the vitriol against HSUS, as the HSUS has no employees in the Birmingham area or anywhere in Alabama with a salary of $133,000/year.

We are in total agreement, however, about the fine, hard working people in Alabama’s shelters and animal control organizations who are in the front line trenches of animal issues in their communities and will continue to support them by taking on challenges that they are not adequately resourced to do.

Mindy Gilbert

Alabama Senior State Director

The Humane Society of the United States

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