Help for the animals | Arkansas Blog

Help for the animals

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The bill to make cruelty to animals a felony sailed out of the Senate committee this morning without a peep of serious protest.

Progress is welcome. But I'd still like to note an item I've included in this week's paper -- which will have a cover story on the successful effort to build a coalition for this long-sought legislation. Moral: compromises invariably leave some unhappy people on the sidelines, here long-time foot soldiers for humane organizations.

A number of long-time humane organization activists are unhappy with a compromise felony animal cruelty bill, subject of this week’s cover story. They believe animal activists gave up too much and the Farm Bureau gave up too little. The Farm Bureau conceded only one point in the long-running debate, they say – a first-offense felony charge for animal cruelty. But humane groups had to agree to a law that explicitly allows a property owner to kill an animal that appears to be causing damage; that allows killing an animal that appears to be ill or abandoned, and, finally, strips humane societies of existing law enforcement powers. The critics, who’ve agreed not to stand up publicly on account of the compromise, complain that law officers, particularly in rural areas, are reluctant to enforce animal cruelty laws. They fear that this reluctance, along with an economic downturn that makes it increasingly hard for some owners to properly feed horses and other animals, could spell bad news for animals.

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