Originally created 05/18/98

Legislators consider bill to protect animals



COLUMBIA -- As the legislative session wraps up, lawmakers are scurrying about completing important work -- which apparently includes trying to save hamsters, ducklings and goldfish.

Legislators Thursday argued about a bill would make it illegal to give away live animals as prizes. Charleston County currently has such a law on its books, but this law is aimed directly at the State Fair, which is held in Columbia.

Lucky fairgoers often can be seen toting goldfish in clear plastic bags, having won them as prizes.

Rep. Doug Jennings, D-Bennettsville, who explained the bill to the House, said it was an attempt "to prevent cruelty to animals before it occurs."

But questions about the bill's impact on other activities, such as a Ducks Unlimited raffle of a Labrador retriever, held up the bill.

It was sent to the House Agriculture Committee for further study.

Mr. Jennings tried to get the House to debate the bill some more and asked for a vote.

He forlornly roamed the House floor beseeching legislators to push their green "yes" buttons, saying "Green is for the hamsters."

Mr. Jennings' pleas fell on deaf ears, but Henry Brzezinski, executive director of the Human Society of the Midlands, said there was still time to get it passed this session.