Making Animal Cruelty a Felony Passed by Utah Senate; SB 190 Now Moves to House

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The Utah Senate took a courageous step today in passing a bill, 18-9 (2 absent) that would make torturing an animal a felony. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

Kanab, Utah: 02/23/2007 - The Utah Senate took a courageous step today in passing a bill, 18-9 (2 absent) that would make torturing an animal a felony. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

Senate Bill 190 would make torturing an animal a third-degree felony. Utah is currently one of only eight states that have no felony provision for animal abuse. People convicted of animal torture would face incarceration and possibly psychiatric evaluation. Generally, the court must order a psychological evaluation and any recommended treatment and can also order the defendant to pay for it, and has the discretion to bar the defendant from owning or keeping animals for a period of time, even for life.

Gregory Castle, director of Utah outreach for Best Friends Animal Society , applauded the Senate's action, saying, "As a society we are recognizing the direct link between animal abuse and cruelty to people. While we are heartened by the Senate's acknowledgment for the first time that animals deserve protection, it is important also to understand what this means for society as a whole. There is a very strong correlation between animal abuse and serious crimes of violence against people. We are grateful to Sen. Gene Davis for his leadership in championing this bill."

SB 190 provides an exemption for animals kept for agricultural purposes, animals used to train hunting dogs and falcons, and animals kept or owned by zoological parks.

"Now it is important for Utahans to stay in touch with their representatives on this important piece of legislation. SB 190 will only take effect if it passes through the House as well and is signed into law by the governor. So, everyone who has been calling, writing and e-mailing their senators now must focus their energies on the House of Representatives," Castle said.

For more information, go to http://network.bestfriends.org

Best Friends Animal Society operates the largest sanctuary for homeless animals,

and provides adoption, spay/neuter, and educational programs nationwide.

http://www.bestfriends.org.

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Barbara Williamson

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