Lawmakers fighting like cats and dogs? Not over this bill

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In this July 27, 2018 photo provided by Daryl Abbas, Arrow, a cat whose death has inspired legislation to put cats on equal footing with dogs, at least when they are run over, sits in Salem, N.H. Arrow's owner, New Hampshire State Rep. Daryl Abbas, is the sponsor of a bill that would require drivers who injure or kill cats to notify police or the animals' owners. The reporting requirement already is in place for dogs. (Daryl Abbas via AP)

Nine lives notwithstanding, killing a cat in a hit-and-run soon could become illegal in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire was ahead of the pack when it passed a law nearly 40 years ago that requires drivers who injure or kill dogs to notify police or the animals’ owners, or else face a $1,000 fine. It is unclear why cats and other pets were left out, but the state Legislature is currently considering an expansion that would give cats and canines equal standing.

“It’s a cataclysmic bill. To not pass this would be catastrophic,” Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, said Tuesday, drawing chuckles from fellow members of a Senate committee.

“It’s a categorical imperative: You have to report,” chimed in Sen. David Watters, D-Dover.

Republican Rep. Daryl Abbas sponsored the bill on behalf of his wife, who found their 5-year-old cat, Arrow, dead on the street near their Salem home in July 2019. The partially blind black and gray tabby had once again achieved his “daily goal” of escaping from the house and was hit by a car, Abbas said.

“I remember telling my wife, ‘It’s an accident, we have to forgive the person,’ but I was more upset that the person didn’t stop,” he said. “Who doesn’t stop?”

Abbas contacted an animal control officer, who told him there was no reporting requirement. When he expressed surprise, she suggested he contact his state representative. And so he drafted the bill himself.

Abbas highlighted that New Hampshire law already requires people to report any property damage caused by a motor vehicle to the owner.