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Creatures Featured

Bills dealing with hogs, dogs, and oysters saw legislative action Monday.

It initially appeared both the House and Senate were going to take up multiple bills involving animals, but the Senate opted for the “Bagneris Rule” Monday, instead. Made an official part of the Senate rules in 2014, it allows that body to pass over any bill deemed controversial, and automatically return it to the calendar for the next business day.

That meant debate on Sen. Troy Carter’s (D-New Orleans) bill to grant immunity from prosecution for those gratuitously offering aid to injured children or animals (Good Samaritan Act) was postponed, along with discussion on Sen. J.P. Morrell’s (D-New Orleans) SB 236, which criminalizes sexual abuse of animals.

It’s an expansion of the state’s long-standing “Crimes Against Nature” laws, which currently simply prohibit “unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with an animal”. It would now include both participants and observers of “any act involving sexual contact with an animal”, while making exceptions for veterinarians and others involved in legitimate animal husbandry.

The lone critter bill deemed uncontroversial enough for senate passage Monday was SB 451 by Blade Morrish (R-Jennings). It establishes a permanent moratorium on oyster fishing in Sabine Lake.

“Sabine Lake is home to an historic oyster reef that has not been fished since 1966,” Morrish explained. “It is the largest known, perfect, untouched, vertical oyster reef in the world.

“Louisiana and Texas share the lake, and we have an agreement in place with Texas to use the reef only for study and education from now on.”

The bill passed unanimously.

Over in the House, the featured creature bills began with HB 121, by Rep. Jean Paul Coussan (R-Lafayette), making heavy restraints on dogs a criminal offense.

“This will allow added charges to be imposed on those busted for dog-fighting,” he explained. “It’s designed to outlaw heavy chains, iron collars, weights tied to the collar – all the things dog-fight trainers use to try and build up stamina in those animals.”

There was a light-hearted question from Rep. Robby Carter (D-Amite).

“Does this apply to cats?” Carter asked. “To birds? Cows? Horses?”

“My bill only applies to dogs,” Coussan replied.

The bill was advanced to the Senate, 79-2.

And despite the seriousness of the problem it addresses, it was Rep. Kirk Talbot’s bill to prohibit the transportation of live feral swine that provided some of the most humorous discussion of the day.

Legitimate questions about the bill came first, however.

“If I go hunting in north Louisiana, and trap a hog, then I have to travel several hours home to south Louisiana, where I can get it butchered,” Rep. Kenny Cox (D-Natchitoches) began. “If it has to be dead for me to transport it, the meat will spoil. Is that right?”

“You will be able to get a permit from Wildlife and Fisheries for situations like that,” Talbot assured Cox.

“What will that cost?” Cox asked.

“I don’t know,” Talbot replied. “They’re still working on those rules, pending passage of this bill. But the main thing is that this bill will prohibit ‘catch-and-release’ of feral swine.”

Then the teasing commenced.

“Do you have a big problem with feral hogs in River Ridge?” Rep. Mike Danahay (D-Sulphur) asked, referring to the upscale suburb where Talbot resides.

“When we had the flood two years ago, a herd of feral hogs moved from the woods along the river, onto the golf course,” Talbot replied. “It was terrible.”

Rep. Greg Cromer (R-Slidell) then asked, “Do you make hot dogs out of swine?” (Talbot is the owner of Lucky Dogs, a street-food institution in the New Orleans area)

“Not wild swine,” Talbot replied.

Further questions linking pork and hot dogs ensued, with Rep. Terry Landry (D-New Iberia) finally rising to ask, “If this bill is successful, can we name it the ‘Not-So-Lucky Pig Act’?”

Laughing, Talbot responded, “Yes.”

And with that, the full House approved the bill, 59-24.

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