Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed into law the Community and Pet Protection Act that strengthens the state’s animal cruelty laws.
The act includes the following:
· Removing a current owner exemption that bars a pet owner from being charged with animal abuse for abusing their own pet
· Clarifying requirements for food, water, and shelter to allow law enforcement and prosecutors to more effectively address animal welfare concerns when they arise
· Adding requirements for sanitary conditions, grooming, and veterinary care
· Requiring mental health evaluations for juveniles and offenses punishable as an aggravated misdemeanor or class “D” felony
“HF737 is a significant step forward for Iowa, a state that has long been ranked as one of the worst in the nation for animal protection laws,” states Iowa Pet Alliance executive director Haley Anderson. “During such unprecedented and politically contentious times, HF737 has proven that protecting our pets is something the majority of Iowans and legislators can agree on, regardless of party.”
Humane Society of North Iowa Director Sybil Soukup has always been passionate about animal welfare, and the need to improve such laws in Iowa. She's reached out to her local legislators to see if something can be done.
"All of our animal friends deserve to be protected in our communities and in our state."
She applauds the removal of the owner exemption.
"In my own studies of abuse cases around the state, it often is the owner of their own pet that is abusing their own PET, So this bill makes that improvement and allows them to be charged with abuse and face the punishment for the crime they committed."
For years, animal welfare legislation has often failed to pass. And while this act is a great big step, Soukup says there's more work to be done.
"A big one would be if someone tortures an animal, it's a felony offense on the first charge instead of the second. Iowa's one of two states in the country that doesn't do that currently, Mississippi is the other."
In addition, Soukup is hoping to see some federal action regarding animal abuse and neglect as a felony nationwide; currently, it only applies to offenses committed on federal lands.
"I think it's important as pet owners and pet lovers that we make efforts to protect animals in our state, and pay attention to what our legislature is doing with those goals in mind."