Last month Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law what was House Bill 2671, increasing the penalties for animal abusers in this state.
The existing law was updated to include a new section directed at a person who “intentionally or knowingly subjects a domestic animal to cruel mistreatment.” Under the new guideline, “cruel mistreatment” means to torture or otherwise inflict unnecessary serious physical injury on an animal or to kill an animal in a manner that causes protracted suffering to the animal. “Cruel neglect” means to fail to provide an animal with necessary food, water or shelter.
Either of these actions can now result is a class 5 felony charge. A person convicted of a class 5 felony in Arizona faces a presumptive term of two years and an aggravated term of two years and six months in prison.
This change means that animal abusers will face stronger penalties in the worst cases of abuse—the ones where abusers intentionally and knowingly inflict cruel mistreatment. The Arizona Humane Society has worked tirelessly over the last four years to pass this bill.
“Every day, our emergency animal rescue team and trauma hospital see horrific cases of cruelty and neglect,” said Dr. Steven Hansen, DVM, president and CEO of the Arizona Humane Society. “Last year alone, our team responded to more than 7,400 cruelty investigations. Only the most egregious, gut-wrenching few lead to prosecution. The vast majority of animal abusers received an embarrassingly inadequate charge, often pleading to a misdemeanor without jail time or probation.”
With the new section in place, Hansen says prosecutors will now have the necessary tools and option to charge animal abusers with a Class 5 felony, instead of a Class 6 felony—which is often reduced to a misdemeanor.
To report a suspected case of animal abuse, call the city of Phoenix Crime Stop at 602-262-6151; the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office at 602-876-1681; or the Arizona Humane Society at 602-997-7585, ext. 2073.