Dave Rubello, a St. Clair Shores city councilman and C & G Newspapers employee, and his wife, Greta Guest Rubello, hold Teddy. The couple adopted Teddy in 2019.

Dave Rubello, a St. Clair Shores city councilman and C & G Newspapers employee, and his wife, Greta Guest Rubello, hold Teddy. The couple adopted Teddy in 2019.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

‘Teddy’s Law’ passed as state law

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 6, 2024


ST. CLAIR SHORES — “Teddy’s Law” was recently passed as state law in Michigan, and those who worked on the bill package are excited for what it means for animals throughout the state.

State Sen. Kevin Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores, said the package of bills was signed into state law on Dec. 13, 2023, and went into effect immediately. Hertel said he’s thankful his colleagues allowed that to happen.

According to the state documents, the bills were sponsored by both Hertel and state Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia.

“Taken together, the bills would require a research facility to first offer a dog or cat that would otherwise be euthanized to an animal shelter for adoption and prescribe administrative fines for failing to do so,” a Senate Fiscal Agency summary from June stated. “They would provide research facilities and shelters with civil liability immunity in the transfer of the animals.”

Hertel said his bill, Senate Bill 149, sets up the requirements for the adoption while Polehanki’s bill, Senate Bill 148, sets up reporting mechanisms and penalties “for those that do not obey by the law.”

Hertel said he started working on the bill around 2017 or 2018 when he was still in the Michigan House of Representatives. He met with St. Clair Shores City Councilman Dave Rubello as well as the Humane Society of the United States. He said there wasn’t much movement in the state House at the time. He also said they did get a committee hearing once but it was not taken up for a vote.

“But it was always a priority for us and so we continued to work on it and thankfully as I moved over to the Senate and this legislative session we were able to get the support of both the committee chairs in the Senate and the House and move the bills forward,” Hertel said.

Rubello said the bill will save thousands of cats and dogs that go through laboratories from being destroyed.

Teddy the beagle, the namesake of the law, was adopted by Rubello, who works at C & G Newspapers.

“These bills introduced will now make it possible for them to live in regular homes and stuff,” Rubello said. “Be adopted out through special adoption agencies for dogs and cats. So, great feeling. It’s been a three-year fight, and a lot of people worked hard.”

He went on to say the Humane Society of the United States worked hard on the bill with him and he gave a special thanks to Hertel.

The law started when a group of 36 beagles were released from a laboratory, with 32 of those beagles being adopted out. Rubello said an undercover investigator went into a laboratory, filmed what they were doing and revealed to the public what was going on in the lab. He said there were fights between a major company, who hired the laboratory, and the Humane Society of the United States to get the dogs released.

He also said he located 27 of the 32 beagles that were released, and he got the owners involved in the case as well.

“First-time-ever case,” Rubello said. “But the nice thing about it is it’s great to be part of something that will change the lives of families, certainly save thousands and thousands of test animals, cats and dogs. And it’s great to make a difference.”

Blake Goodman, the state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said the group conducted the undercover investigation in 2019.

“That was released to the public with footage (from the) undercover investigator of what those dogs went through,” Goodman said.

Goodman said they’ve done a number of the investigations, with the largest being in Virginia, where around 4,000 beagles were rescued from a facility in 2022. The beagles were placed in shelters across the country and the Humane Society of the United States helped those beagles get adopted.

Goodman said, so far, there have been 16 states with similar laws enacted, with Iowa being the most recent before Michigan.

“We’re pretty proud of this work,” Goodman said. “It represents a good first step in a lot of states to moving on from animal testing. We really think it’s the least that labs could do.”

He said he’s excited Teddy’s Law was passed.

“We’re thrilled,” Goodman said. “Teddy’s Law is the biggest, the most consequential animal protection legislation to be passed since 2019. With this new legislature in charge, animal issues are finally getting a look in.”

He also said it gives people in his field hope that Michigan is turning in a positive direction. He said his gratitude goes to Hertel and Polehanki.

Hertel is excited that the bills became state law.

“This has been a priority for my office both in the house and now in the senate for a while to get this accomplished,” Hertel said. “And really because we know the impact it will have on animals across the state to make sure they’re going to loving homes.”

He also said in recent history this is one of the most “monumental bills to pass for animal rights here in the state of Michigan.”

“I think it’s important that folks know that these dogs will be available, dogs and cats will be available for adoption, and I look forward to so many (going) into loving homes across our state,” Hertel said.