From: Walter Rubel, Las Cruces Sun-News
Published February 17, 2005 12:00 AM

Bill to Keep Animals, Children out of Antifreeze Endorsed

SANTA FE, New Mexico — The Senate Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday unanimously endorsed a bill that would require a bittering agent to be put in antifreeze.

Named "Scooby's Law" for a golden retriever who died after drinking antifreeze, the bill has the support of both animal activists and industry representatives, said its sponsor, Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque.

Ortiz y Pino said that the bill would not only save the lives of animals, but also of young children who have died in the past from drinking antifreeze.

Danielle Bays, campaign manager for Animal Protection Voters, said that while there have not been any studies to show how many animals have died as a result of drinking antifreeze, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence.

"Every veterinarian I've ever spoken to can tell you a number of horror stories about animals that have died," she said. She said that several cities, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, have already passed laws requiring a bittering agent in antifreeze.

"It causes a painful death in animals," she said.

Ortiz y Pino said the bittering agent has been successful in preventing animals and children from drinking antifreeze. "They take one whiff and then they back away," he said.

Andrew Hackman, a lobbyist for the antifreeze industry, said that the concerns of antifreeze manufacturers have been addressed in the bill.

"This will not only protect animals, but there are provisions in the bill that protect the industry," Hackman said. He said that a statewide law would solve distribution problems created by the fact that some cities now require a bittering agent and others don't.

Samantha Kern, a representative for Prestone, said the bittering agent doesn't have an impact on the performance of the antifreeze.

"The bittering agent is made by a different company," she said. "We don't have any data on the chemical additive, but it's a very small amount." Ortiz y Pino said the bill would allow those with a stockpile of antifreeze to use the existing stock before being required to switch to the antifreeze with a bittering agent.

The bill next goes to the Corporations and Transportation Committee before being heard on the Senate floor.

To see more of the Las Cruces Sun-News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to (c) 2005, Las Cruces Sun-News, Las Cruces, N.M. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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