Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Utah Politicians Kill Bill That Would Have Made the Intentional Torture of an Animal a Felony in the State

Surprise, surprise. Politicians again only doing things for the sake of business. It’s beyond strange why something as simple as making horrible cruelty a felony would even have to be debated.


Utah’s Animal Torture Bill Runs out of Time

By Tracy Medley, 3-05-07

Utah lawmakers let the clock run out before passing legislation that would make the intentional torture of an animal a felony in the state. Animal advocates, including the director of the Humane Society of Utah, Gene Baierschmidt worked hard to get SB190 on the books before the end of the 2007 legislative session, but were thwarted by certain legislators who felt the language of the bill was just too vague. For three years, Utah lawmakers have failed to create a felony provision for heinous cases of animal torture.

According to the Deseret Morning News, Rep. John Mathis, a Republican from Vernal was the strongest critic of the bill’s language. Mathis worried that the bill might impact neglectful pet owners for not feeding their pets or seeking veterinary attention, despite the explicit use of the words “intentional” and “torture” in the measure. “It’s a concern for me that someone could be charged with cruelty to an animal if they neglect to get veterinary care,” he explained in the D-News.

Mathis, who is also a veterinarian, is apparently unaware that neglect is already addressed in Utah’s current animal abuse laws.

Rep. Kerry Gibson of Ogden also quibbled with the bill’s language. “I have serious concerns with the word depravity. I don’t know if that’s defined anywhere,” Gibson said in the D-News. How about a dictionary – or looking through some law books, where the legal definition of depravity is clearly explained. But, I digress.

According to the D-News what Gibson really seemed worried about was appeasing insatiable animal rights extremists. “Make no mistake about going down this road. We won’t turn back from this.” Pardon me, but how exactly is the creation of a felonious option for extreme cases of deliberate animal-torture, somehow a point of no return? Have the 42 other states with similar laws experienced any problems? Did he bother to look? Is Gibson really just afraid that someday monkeys in pants will try to take his job – yes, Rep. Gibson, stop the madness now, before it starts.

It is outrageous that our legislators blackballed this bill for the third year in a row, especially given the glaring and horrific case of Henry, the Chihuahua who’s owner placed him in a 200 degree oven burning and leaving him irreversibly scarred and disabled. This was the perfect opportunity for Utah lawmakers to take such acts of unfathomable violence toward living creatures seriously and they blew it.


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