MONTGOMERY—The Alabama legislative session ended on a high note for animals as lawmakers sent HB 27, a bill to strengthen the state’s animal cruelty laws, to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature, receiving praise from The Humane Society of the United States.
“We applaud the Alabama Legislature and urge Governor Bentley to sign this important bill to extend felony level protections to all animals in the state,” said Mindy Gilbert, Alabama state director for The HSUS. “Dogs and cats have had felony level protection under the law since 2000, hopefully now all other animals will have the same protection.”
HB 27, sponsored by Rep. Joe Faust, R-Baldwin, strengthens the cruelty laws that protect all animals by raising the penalty for violators from a class B misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor, and adds the definition of aggravated cruelty for certain acts at the class C felony level. The bill passed the Senate 31 to 1.
The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) also praised Alabama lawmakers for passing House Bill 27.
“By increasing the penalties for animal cruelty, Alabama legislators have made it known that anyone who commits an act of cruelty to an animal will be held accountable,” said Sherry Rout, state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Southern region. “We thank Alabama lawmakers for passing HB 27, and we urge Governor Bentley to sign this bill to further protect animals throughout the state.”
HB 27 amends the existing cruelty laws by increasing the penalty for an offense from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $6,000. The bill also adds a definition for torture, making this offense a Class C felony, with a punishment of up to 10 years in jail and a fine up to $15,000.
Alabama ranks 45th in The Humane Society of the United States’ 2012 “Humane State Rankings” which grades each state and the District of Columbia based on a wide range of animal protection laws dealing with pets, animal cruelty and fighting, wildlife, animals in research, horses and farm animals. Alabama has lacked many animal protection laws common in other states. Alabama also has a weak cockfighting law – it’s one of only 10 states that deem the cruel practice a misdemeanor – hurting its ranking.