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SF421: A Bill to Improve Iowa's Companion Animal Cruelty Laws

posted on Thursday, January 18, 2018 in News

Iowa ranks 49th in the nation for the effectiveness of our animal cruelty laws. Too often we see cases where the penalties don’t seem to “fit the crime”, due to lax enforcement, generous plea deals, and weak sentencing. SF421 is the result of lessons learned by law enforcement, prosecutors, and a survey of best practices across the nation.

Read below for updates of where the bill currently stands.

Read the full text of bill SF421 here.

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UPDATE 01/18/18: SF421, a bill that makes several needed improvements to Iowa's companion animal cruelty laws, passed out of a senate judiciary subcommittee unanimously today and is eligible for a full committee vote.

SF421 has been developed to address several needed aspects, based on previous law enforcement and judicial experience with the current law and survey of best practices in other states. Some highlights of SF421 include:

  • Improves definitions - especially those related to "injury" and "serious injury".
  • Clarifies distinction between neglect (failure to provide care) and abuse (direct action causing injury).
  • Removes exceptions to abuse offense for the owner or a person acting with the consent of the owner.
  • Improves definition of minimum standard of care (food, water, sanitary conditions, shelter, grooming, reasonable vet care).
  • Provides for enhanced penalties based on the severity of the injuries sustained by the animals.
  • Clarifies the definition of animal torture and makes it a felony on first offense.
  • Provides for enhanced penalties for persons with previous convictions.
  • Includes provisions for mental health evaluations to provide help for those in need.
  • Includes provisions for restrictions on future possession of animals to help protect other animals from known abusers.
  • Clarifies definition of animal abandonment.
  • Creates the offense of animal endangerment for leaving animals in hot cars.
  • Allows law enforcement officials to rescue animals from hot cars.