DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa House has unanimously approved a bill that would increase the penalties for animal mistreatment.
The measure approved Thursday by a vote of 96-0 moves to the Senate.
The bill heightens the criminal penalties for animal abuse and neglect, animal torture and abandonment. It exempts farm livestock and some wild animals.
Animal welfare advocates have long considered Iowa among the worst states for mistreatment of animals in puppy mills. The state has thousands of dogs in more than 200 large-scale breeding operations.
Under the House-backed bill, failure to provide an animal with access to food, drinkable water, sanitary shelter, veterinary care and grooming could be considered animal abuse, punishable by two years in prison. A second offense would be a felony carrying up to five years in prison.
Animal torture, which is intentionally causing prolonged suffering or death, would be a felony punishable by up to five years. Abandoning an animal could carry a 30-day jail sentence, a year in jail if the animal is injured or two years if it sustains a serious injury.