Bill Creates Farm Animal Exemption In Animal Abuse Laws

March 11, 2014

The Arizona House has approved a bill that would allow people who deliberately torture or abuse livestock to face only a misdemeanor charge.

Bill sponsor Rep. Brenda Barton defends it against critics who claim it gives animal abusers a slap on the wrist.

“We have added penalties for repeat offenders, including felonies, and the probition (sic) of future animal ownership,” said Barton, a Republican from Payson.

The bill would make it illegal to hoard animals to the point where it’s dangerous, and allow a judge to deny the right to own animals to anyone found guilty of abuse.

Supporters did agree to drop a provision that would allow only the Department of Agriculture, and not the police, to investigate livestock abuse complaints. Opponents say there is no reason to reduce the penalty for abusing farm animals to a misdemeanor.

“We just do not think we can accept a mediocre win for Arizona cats and dogs at the expense for Arizona's horses and cows,” said Kelsea Patton of the Arizona Humane Society.

The measure faces an uncertain future in the state Senate.