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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions May 26, 2016

3/11/2014 2:34:00 PM
Editorial: Should there really be two standards for animal abuse?
Rep. Brenda Barton
Rep. Brenda Barton

Few topics set off the ire in people like animal cruelty. Any normal person who has seen an animal starved or beaten cannot stand idly by. When the abuse or neglect leads to death, there are always calls for equal retribution.

Any normal person also knows there is a difference between a house cat and a ranch dog, between a parakeet and a milk cow. But does that mean there should be different standards of animal cruelty built into the law?

HB 2587 recently passed the Arizona House of Representatives, creating an exemption for farmers and ranchers in the state's animal cruelty laws. Fortunately, provisions that would have made it more difficult to investigate and prosecute abusers were removed before the final vote.

Abuse can be in the eye of the beholder. There is a crowd that believes making a dog sleep in the barn instead of the house is cruelty. What a humane society may describe as possible signs of abuse in a house pet - nicks or bruises - does not at all signify the same thing out in the field.

HB 2587 is meant to protect ranchers and farmers from definitions of animal abuse that are often too narrow. But there is still vagueness to the exemption language that may indeed provide too much exemption for bad behavior.

For the good of the animal owners and the legislation itself, firmer definitions of abusive activity should be outlined. And it should be applied to all.

True abuse is true abuse across the spectrum, whether pet care or animal husbandry. There is absolutely no reason a rancher or farmer should be neglecting, beating or starving an animal. Law enforcement and government inspection procedures are in place to investigate those accusations and should not be hindered.

Farm animals do not live the same lives as urban house pets but they should be equal when it comes to basic treatment. Exemptions without stronger definitions won't help anyone.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Article comment by: Jeanette Stilson

Thank you for this editorial. There should be no pardons for animal abuse, whether the animal is a pet or part of one's business/ranching/farming/school FFA project. Thank you for bringing this to our community's attention. I sincerely hope that the whole bill is scrapped. If the legislators cannot write a better bill than what is in place, leave it alone. If they feel it is necessary to expand the definition of an item, maybe, it would be best to expand that definition in the present legislation that has been working.

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