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Panels Approve Scooby Bills; Antifreeze Would Have To Be Bitter

By David Miles and Kate Nash
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE— Bills aimed at preventing dog poisonings by requiring antifreeze and engine coolant to contain a bittering agent cleared Senate and House committees Tuesday.
    The measures are sponsored by Rep. Kathy McCoy, R-Sandia Park, and Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque.
    The legislation is commonly called Scooby's Law after a golden retriever who lived in Bernalillo but had to be euthanized in 2003 after ingesting antifreeze.
    McCoy said her bill, HB 482, would keep animals and children safe.
    "We will speak for those who can't speak for themselves," McCoy said.
    McCoy said her own golden retriever, Cujo, died after ingesting antifreeze.
    The proposals would require manufacturers to add the bittering agent denatonium benzoate to antifreeze and engine coolant if they contain more than 10 percent ethylene glycol.
    The sweet taste of antifreeze is appealing to animals, and the ethylene glycol in the product is poisonous to animals and humans.
    Andy Hackman, manager of state affairs for the Consumer Specialty Products Association, said the antifreeze industry supports both bills in the Legislature.
    Antifreeze sales have not declined in California or Oregon, which enacted laws requiring antifreeze to contain a bittering agent, Hackman said.
    "From the standpoint of our industry, we are comfortable with including it in our product," Hackman said.
    The House Business and Industry Committee unanimously endorsed McCoy's measure, while the Senate Public Affairs Committee unanimously approved Ortiz y Pino's measure (SB 497).
    City of Albuquerque attorney Greg Wheeler said a similar, local measure is working well in the city.
    "It sure doesn't make sense to have tasty antifreeze," Wheeler told the Public Affairs Committee.
    Both bills were amended Tuesday to make it a petty misdemeanor to violate the proposed law.