The House has voted 54-14 in favor of HB 111a, the bill to make a second offense of torture of a companion animal a felony. Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, noted that the original bill had a felony penalty for a third offense. Andrus called the amended bill the “perfect balance,” and said, “I don’t think we’re responsible if we allow torture to go on without addressing it.”
The definition of torture in the bill is “the knowing and willful infliction of unjustifiable and extreme or prolonged pain with the intent to cause suffering.” It doesn’t apply to livestock or farm animals, or to unintentional acts or accidents.
Andrus said, “I think we have a lot more chance of avoiding a ballot initiative if there is a felony on a second offense. And No. 2, I thought of torture to animals, and how much should we tolerate.” He said, “Now, if we have people in our society who are doing that to animals, what do you think we should do with them? I think we should warn them, say OK, you cannot do this to animals. So we warn them with a misdemeanor. And after that what should we do? Ignore it again? I don’t think we’re responsible ... if we do that.”
Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, speaking against the bill, said, “I say if somebody wants to bring an initiative, let ‘em bring it, and we’ll deal with it at the time.” The bill now moves to the Senate.