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Victory for Iowa's Companion Animals

posted on Thursday, March 5, 2020 in News

We asked Iowa to Do Better for companion animals, and yesterday, Iowa senators did, passing HF737 by a 44-3 vote. The bill, which drastically improves Iowa’s companion animal cruelty laws, was unanimously approved by the Iowa House last year before stalling in the Senate.

Since HF737 stalled last year citing agricultural concerns, the threat of amendments to weaken the bill loomed large. Fortunately, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa found success working with other animal welfare groups, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Iowa Pet Alliance; breeding advocates; Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS); the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA); and House and Senate leadership to address those concerns without weakening the bill. Special thanks to Iowa Senators Charles Schneider, Brad Zaun, and Jack Whitver and Representatives Ross Paustian and Bobby Kaufmann.

This cooperative effort recognized the need to hold everyone to a higher standard of care, whether you are a shelter/rescue, dealer, breeder, or simply a pet owner. The final product is a huge step forward for companion animals in Iowa.

Here's what the final bill does:

  • Increases the minimum standards of care for neglect to now include requiring owners to provide sufficient quality food, potable water, sanitary living conditions free of waste and overcrowding, ventilated shelter with protection from the elements, basic grooming, and, most important, veterinary care
  • Removes the "owner exception" to abuse charge
  • Removes the confusing "depraved or sadistic intent" wording from the law's definition of torture
  • Requires a mental health evaluation and treatment when there is serious injury or death to an animal, but judges may order it in other cases as well
  • Enhances penalties for all animal cruelty convictions, including mandatory minimum 1-year sentence (up to 5 year maximum) for first-offense torture convictions
  • Clarifies animal abandonment laws

Thank you to everyone who encouraged their lawmakers to support this bill over the last two years and make this victory possible for Iowa’s companion animals!

We will keep you posted on what’s next, but for now, we are celebrating this historic victory!