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Calley signs bills that let animal shelters do background checks

Liana Aghajanian
flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Watered-down legislation aimed at protecting animals from abuse was signed into law yesterday by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. 

Under the new law, animal shelters are allowed to perform criminal background checks on people who want to adopt pets. And the shelters can choose to deny an animal to people who have been convicted of animal abuse in the past five years.

It's not clear there's anything preventing shelters from taking those actions already.

Earlier versions of the bills would have required the background check and prohibited the adoption.

State Rep. Harvey Santana, D-Detroit, a co-sponsor of the bills, said he would have preferred the tougher version.

"Listen, in a perfect world, I would've had it where every animal shelter's required to do these things. And then have it the way I wanted it," Santana said. "But in government, you know, you have to compromise." 

Santana said the new law is a first step in the effort to prevent known animal abusers from adopting animals.

According to Santana, the Michigan State Police has volunteered to waive the background check fee for non-profit shelters. Earlier versions of the law had required them to waive the fee.

"The Michigan State Police didn't want it in the law," Santana said. "But the informal agreement is that that's exactly what they're going to do. They're going to waive the fee."

Calley signed the bills because Gov. Rick  Snyder is out of state on vacation.