Animal Abuse Bill Passes Senate Committee

A major development Thursday in a bill that calls for more serious charges against people who torture dogs or cats.

A Senate version of the bill cleared a committee, and animal rights groups say they're optimistic it can become law.

The bill would change the first offense of torturing a dog or a cat from a misdemeanor to a felony.

The legislation is essentially the same as Romeo's Law, which has not seen much action in the House. Supporters say regardless of what is passed, the bill will still be named after the Pulaski County dog that was beaten last summer.

Backers of the bill say it's also important to increase penalties for those convicted of animal abuse because they say many people will tire of torturing pets, and then turn on people.

On Thursday, the bill sailed through the committee, but not without some concerns.

Some people fear the bill may not be strongly enforced.

If the bill passes the full Senate, supporters say it's likely to get a favorable reading in the house.

If it passes, a person convicted of dog or cat torture could spend 1 to 5 years in prison. The current penalty is usually less than 1 year in a county jail.

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