Iowa Takes Significant Step Towards Animal Cruelty Crackdown

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Happy Monday, everyone. In the interest of starting the workweek on a positive note, I wanted to share some good news. So here goes…

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Last week, Iowa legislators took an important step towards strengthening the state’s animal cruelty laws. Specifically, the House unanimously passed a bill calling for tougher sanctions for people convicted of abusing, neglecting, torturing or abandoning animals.

As it now stands the bill defines animal abuse as  failure to provide an animal with access to food, clean water, clean shelter, veterinary care and adequate grooming.

The punishment for a first offense would be two years in prison. A second offense would be a felony carrying a maximum punishment of five years in prison.

Animal torture is defined as the intentional infliction of harm that results in prolonged suffering or death. The maximum sentence upon conviction would also be five years in prison.

Finally, the punishment upon conviction for animal abandonment would be 30 days in jail; a year in jail if the animal is hurt; or two years if it seriously hurt.

The bill, which excludes some wild animals and farm animals is now headed to the state Senate.

Why is this so important?

For years, critics have regarded Iowa as one of the worst puppy mill states.  Today, Iowa reportedly has “thousands of dogs in more than 200 large-scale breeding operations.”

In fact, news about the passage of the bill came just two days after the Associated Press reported that he owner of a “northern Iowa dog breeding operation” had been charged with 17 counts of animal neglect.

The AP cites Worth County court records indicating that authorities allegedly found Samoyed dogs in “inhumane conditions” when officials  on Nov. 12 and on other occasions.

The records also indicated 17 dogs had “fur matted by feces, skin conditions leading to fur loss, painful wounds, intestinal parasites and other maladies.” Furthermore, they detailed the conditions in the kennels, where the dogs allegedly went without food and their only source of water were containers packed with ice.

According to the AP, the accused owner has “denied any wrongdoing and told officials she didn’t think the dogs needed additional care.”

On top of which, Iowa ranked 48th in a 2018 Animal Protection Laws Ranking Report issued by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). Only Mississippi and Kentucky fared worse in the report, which was based on 19 aspects of animal protection.

Something to aim for

In the same report, Illinois, Oregon, Maine, Colorado and Massachusetts ranked as the top five states for animal protection. Remarkably, Illinois claimed the number one ranking for the 11th consecutive year. Oregon, Maine and Colorado also kept their top rankings.

“Every year, we see more states enacting broader legal protections for animals,” ALDF’s Executive Director Stephen Wells said. “We have a long way to go until animals are fully protected under the legal system as they deserve, especially in the lowest-ranked states.…But as this year’s Ranking Report shows, step by step we as a nation are improving how the law treats animals.”

 

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