A bill that would change Iowa's animal abuse laws was approved by the state's Senate judiciary committee this month.
The Animal Rescue League of Iowa is following along with the bill, SF2181 (previously called SF421), which they say makes several needed improvements to Iowa's companion animal cruelty laws.
The group's website states some of the highlights include:
- Improves definitions of "injury" and "serious injury"
- Clarifies definitions of "neglect" and "abuse"
- Removes exceptions to abuse for owners
- Redefines the minimum standard of care relating to food, water, sanitary conditions & etc.
- Provides enhanced penalties based on severity of injuries
- Redefines animal torture and makes it a felony on first offense
- Enhances penalties for previous convictions
- Redefines animal abandonment
- Allows law enforcement to rescue animals from hot cars
The bill prohibits the "mistreatment of animals other than livestock and wild animals."
It states a person who commits animal abuse that does not cause serious injury or death is guilty of a serious misdemeanor, while a person who causes serious injury is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.
If a person has been previously convicted of committing animal abuse, torture, abandonment, endangerment, interfering with a police service dog or bestiality and causes an animal serious injury or neglect they are guilty of a Class D Felony.
The bill also states animals need to have access to enough food to satisfy their basic nutrition needs and access to water to meet their basic hydration levels. Access to snow or ice does not satisfy the requirement.
Animal owners also need to provide sanitary conditions, free from excess animal waste or overcrowding. The bill mandates animals need ventilated shelter sufficient to provide "adequate protection from the elements and weather conditions suitable for the age, species and physical condition of the animal."
A few high-profile cases of animal abuse and neglect popped up in Warren County in 2017.
Paula Kay Redding was accused of a simple misdemeanor after Warren County sheriffs deputies found starving horses on her property.
Law enforcement officials notified the Animal Rescue League when they found 10 horses on Redding's New Virginia Farm, some of which had ribs sticking out. They found the bark on the living trees near the horses had been eaten, and some of the trees were stripped up to nine or 10 feet high.
Lindsey Morrow pleaded guilty to 22 counts of animal neglect after three dead dogs were found on her property near Sandyville.
She lost custody of 19 dogs total, which she said were a part of her "Bully Breed Miracle Network and Rescue" operation. Many of the dogs had urine and feces stains on their fur. An ARL groomer had to spend four hours removing nearly 5 pounds of fur from one small dog found at Morrow's property.
Morrow was sentenced to probation.
Jennie Beery, of Indianola, was found guilty of animal neglect, a serious misdemeanor, after authorities found two dead kittens in her home. Ten to 12 more living cats were removed from her care.
Officers went to her property in May, and saw nearly a foot of feces on the counter inside her home. They also observed feces on the stove and covering the floor and trash spread across the floor.
Beery was also sentenced to one year of probation.