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Johnson County Humane Society

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Articles Archive—7/00


The Iowa Felony Animal Cruelty Bill Y2K

This bill (House File #723--Animal Torture) was signed by Governor Vilsack on April 28, 2000 and went into effect on July 1. At the signing, Governor Vilsack mentioned that he has never seen such a groundswell of grass roots campaigning. Every call, letter, and e-mail did make a difference. Kudos to all who helped!

The Iowa Federation of Humane Societies (IFHS) coordinated this effort. IFHS is a statewide group of animal shelters, humane societies and individual animal advocates JCHS is an organizational member and several JCHS members serve on the IFHS board of directors. IFHS members have been actively sponsoring ongoing fundraisers over the past three years to pay for the services of our lobbyist, which runs about $18,000 per year.

House File #723--Animal Torture amends Iowa Code Chapter 717B, which provides for offenses relating to the mistreatment of animals other than livestock. {So, basically, the only animals we’re talking about are pets: e.g., dogs and cats. Not horses or livestock.}

This legislation creates a new offense referred to as “animal torture,” and provides that a person is guilty of animal torture if s/he inflicts upon an animal severe physical pain with a depraved or sadistic intent to cause prolonged suffering or death. It also provides for a number of exceptions, including exceptions based on actions consistent with animal husbandry practices; veterinary practice; hunting, trapping or fishing; self-defense or protection of property; research; and the humane destruction of abused or neglected animals.

A person convicted of animal torture is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor for the first offense and a class “D” felony for a subsequent offense. {So the abuser has to be caught twice before it’s a felony.} The sentencing order must provide that the person submit to psychological evaluation and treatment. The person must pay the costs of the evaluation and treatment. In addition, the sentencing order for a first offense must provide a community work requirement, which may include work performed at an animal shelter or pound.

This legislation provides that the juvenile court has exclusive original jurisdiction in a proceeding concerning a child who is alleged to have committed animal torture. The juvenile court cannot waive jurisdiction in a proceeding concerning an offense alleged to have been committed by a child under the age of 17.

We now have a bill that is not perfect, but has more teeth (in some areas) than what we had. Although we had to take some hits on a couple of things, after much talking with our lobbyist, it was determined that we should take what we could get this year and go back for more later.

The full text of this legislation is available online now.


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JCHS   •   P.O. BOX 2775   •   IOWA CITY, IA  52244-2775


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