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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

President & Director of Maine Friends of Animals
IN SUPPORT OF L.D. 599 “An Act To Protect Household Pets and Other Small Animals from Poisoning.”

March 8, 2005

Senator Cowger, Representative Koffman and distinguished members of the committee. I am Robert Fisk, Jr., President and director of Maine Friends of Animals. We are Maine’s largest animal protection group, and our mission is to promote the humane treatment of animals thougheducation, advocacy and legislation. We are very pleased that Rep. Glynn and his wife Lori have submitted this legislation, which we strongly support.

Each year, by some estimates, about 10,000 dogs and cats are victims of accidental poisoning by automobile antifreeze. Death of pets that could have been prevented.  As you have heard these coolants are extremely toxic and its sweet taste make it a lethal combination even with very small amounts ingested. I have included with my testimony an article about how one person set in motion the passage of this legislation in California. Her puppy’s slow and agonizing death became the impetus for her to have a bill submitted that simply added a bittering agent that would prevent this needless family tragedy from happening to others.    

So often when human interests meet the well being of animals, the animal loses out. This is a situation in which needless animal suffering and deaths can be prevented with a minimal amount of cost and effort by human beings. Adding a bittering agent would cost the manufacturer only 2 or 3 cents per gallon.

The bittering agent is already being produced and has been used for some time as an aversive agent for a wide variety of products, such as putting it on cables that mice might otherwise chew into. The agent denatonium benzoate also has no adverse effect on the automotive cooling system.

Representatives from the manufacturers of the antifreeze will argue there is a liability associated with the environmental fate of the bittering agent, but counter to industry claims the agent is safe for the environment. They may also point to current federal legislation to do the same thing, but we all know how long it takes to get federal legislation passed. The truth is this legislation can be implemented with a minimum of inconvenience and cost.  

I would suggest that the manufacturers could create some positive PR by doing the right thing. It certainly cannot hurt to be perceived as animal-friendly to all those millions who dearly love their pets. I would suggest a little notice on the antifreeze container saying something like it is “pet safe” similar to tuna processors with their ‘dolphin safe” label. Isn’t that product good will worth two cents a gallon?!

This is a rather rare situation in which needless animal suffering and death can be prevented with a minimal effort on behalf of a manufacturer. We urge the committee to vote ‘out to pass’ on L.D. 599.  
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