Idaho House of Representatives Praised for Passing Felony Animal Cruelty Bill

H.B. 650 strengthens state’s laws on cockfighting, companion animal abuse
March 15, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA applaud the Idaho House of Representatives for passing a bill that would strengthen the state’s cockfighting ban and provide for stronger penalties in cases of animal torture. 

Sponsored by Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, the legislation would make organizing a cockfight a first offense felony if illegal drugs or gambling are involved, and a second offense felony if razor-sharp gaffs, instruments or chemical enhancements of any kind are used on the birds in a cockfight. In addition, the bill would make torturing animals a third offense felony. Under existing law, each of these crimes is a misdemeanor, with no felony penalties available even for the worst repeat offenders. 

“The brutal act of cockfighting and torturing an animal should not be tolerated in our state, and this new bill is a step in the right direction,” said Lisa Kauffman, Idaho state director for The Humane Society of the United States.  “Idaho is one of only three states in the nation that doesn’t punish extreme acts of animal cruelty with a felony, and one of only eleven that does not have felony-level penalties for cockfighting. The Humane Society of the United States is thankful to Chairman Andrus for acknowledging that the people in Idaho want to see stricter laws in place to provide a more meaningful deterrent to cruelty and abuse.” 

“The ASPCA has long recognized a link between animal cruelty and other violent crimes,” said Ann Church, ASPCA vice president of state affairs. “Anyone who intentionally tortures an animal or forces two animals to fight to the death deserves to be charged with a serious crime.  The ASPCA commends Rep. Andrus for his strong leadership and continued efforts to protect not just Idaho’s animals, but also its residents.” 

The bill will now move to the Idaho Senate. The HSUS and ASPCA are urging Idaho voters to contact their elected officials and encourage them to quickly pass this important humane legislation.

Idaho ranks 50th in The HSUS’ 2011 state animal protection rankings, which grades each state based on a wide range of animal protection laws dealing with pets, animal cruelty and fighting, wildlife, animals in research, horses and farm animals.