PHOENIX -- Animal abusers would lose the right for anyone in their household to have a pet for at least two years under the terms of legislation approved Thursday by the state House.
The legislation by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, is based on the fact that nothing in current law precludes someone convicted of animal cruelty can immediately obtain a new pet. HB 2073, approved on a 44-12 vote, would require anyone convicted to transfer all animals to someone else not living in the same house or an animal welfare or rescue organization.
His legislation would allow an individual to ask a court for permission to once again own an animal. But that would require a "showing of good cause' and could not happen for at least two years following the conviction.
To pick up necessary votes, Kavanagh agreed to add language that says an abuse conviction does not preclude someone from engaging in ranching or commercial horse training. But that was still not enough to satisfy all the foes.
"I am not supportive of animal abuse in any form,' said Rep. Lisa Otondo, D-Yuma. But Otondo said she could not vote for the measure "as a sheep herder's daughter, farmer and representative from rural Arizona.
Kavanagh acknowledged that his legislation, which now goes to the Senate, would mean that the conviction of anyone in a house of abuse means no one could have a pet. But he said that is necessary to protect the welfare of the animal.
While all can appreciate the sentiment, how does Dr. Kavanagh propose we the people of Arizona enforce this gem? There are stray pets all over the State. Shall we post a scarlet letter on the offender's door and mandate that all neighbors must report all hungry dogs and cats visiting that yard?
And what do we do with these forbidden animals? Cart them all to be euthanized at overflowing shelters? How humane, I'm sure Rep. Kavanagh discussed this with many animal control officers.
Seriously, wouldn't it have been better to give judges the discretion to order whatever prohibitions fit a specific case? (If, in fact, they don't already have that authority. I've read about cases where pet hoarders, the most common animal abuse offenders, were limited in the number of animals they could house as part of the terms of their parole.)