The House Agriculture and Water Committee voted today to stiffen penalties for those who abuse pets — but only after carving out what essentially amounts to special treatment — and looser regulations — for farmers and ranchers. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.
On one hand, HB 2587 tightens some language which Rep. Kate Brophy McGee said has allowed abusers to escape punishment. For example, she said it requires animals to have access to water “suitable for drinking” rather than just water that may be moldy, and shelter “appropriate for the animal or weather condition.” And, it outlaws animal “hoarding,” having so many as to leave them in danger. But, the legislation strips state and local police of power to investigate abuse of farm animals and chickens, requiring complaints instead be made to the livestock inspectors at Department of Agriculture. That annoyed Deputy Pima County Attorney Kathleen Mayer.
“Essentially it feels like livestock is telling local law enforcement what crimes they can investigate and what crimes they can’t,” Mayer said.
There also were complaints about a requirement for anyone with photos or videos of abuse to turn them over to authorities within five days or face a fine and possible jail time. Rep. Brenda Barton said it was not meant to thwart undercover investigations.
“The intention is to ensure the allegations are investigated in a timely manner and to prevent further abuse and further animal suffering,” she said.
Barton said some changes may occur when the measure goes to the House floor.