HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Two new laws to protect animals in Connecticut will take effect on Sunday, Oct. 1

Public Act No. 23-138 will require municipal animal shelters to have heating and cooling systems that maintain an indoor temperature between 55 to 80 degrees. 

In 2021, Wallingford residents were upset that the animals in their town shelter were stuck in sweltering conditions without air conditioning. That was the catalyst behind this bill which was authored by State Rep. Dorinda Borer (D-Conn.) and State Rep. Craig Fishbein (R-Conn.).

“It was actually your segment on the Wallingford Shelter where it came to my attention that we needed to address the minimum and maximum temperatures that are allowable in shelters,” Borer said.

The Wallingford Animal Shelter installed air conditioning, and it made a huge difference for the dogs and their demeanor.

“Since we’ve had the air conditioning put in, it’s a completely different atmosphere for the dogs.  There’s a lot less restlessness, it’s easier for them to settle down, so overall, there’s less kennel stress.  I definitely think that’s a good thing,” said Wallingford Animal Control Officer Mitch Gibbs.

The new legislation will also forbid cats and dogs from sharing the same enclosure except for nursing moms and their babies.

A second law, Public Act No. 23-149, which pertains to animal cruelty will make the sexual assault of an animal a Class A misdemeanor.

Police and animal control officers will take possession of any animal alleged to have been sexually assaulted. The animal will then be examined by a veterinarian.

Veterinarians will now be required to report any suspected harm, neglect or cruelty due to animal fighting.

Finally, for new and existing animal cruelty crimes, courts will be required to prohibit all convicted offenders from owning, adopting, living with, or working with any animals for a period of five years. 

“A lot of advocates and a lot of legislators have been fighting for this bill for a long time. I’m excited that we got it over the finish line, and I think a possession ban is really important. It allows the judges the avenue to hold those who are convicted responsible and prevent them from being around animals again,” Borer said.

Borer is looking out for her local shelter in West Haven.  She secured $300,000 to upgrade the shelter’s HVAC system, cat room and dog run.