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Lawmakers consider tougher penalties for animal neglect and cruelty


Two bi-partisan bills that subject pet shop operators and breeders to rules against animal neglect and cruelty are on their way to the Michigan House.

Senate Bills 285 and 286 also toughen penalties for animal neglect or cruelty, depending on the offender's prior convictions and the number of animals involved.

Jill Fritz is the Michigan State Director of the Humane Society of the United States.  She supports the bills.

Among other things, she said acts of cruelty or neglect involving more than 25 animals would now be a felony, with convictions carrying tougher penalties.

"This is important because we've had quite a few cases here in Michigan that involve large numbers of animals in hoarding or puppy mill type situations," she said.

State Sen. Steven Bieda (D-Warren) is a sponsor of one of the bills. He said people sometimes harm animals with the intent to control or harm people. 

"We see perpetrators in domestic violence cases often times use threatening the family's pet as a way to terrorize their victims," he said. "So this bill gives prosecutors a tool that they need to help protect both human and animal victims in these abusive situations."

The bills unanimously passed the Michigan Senate this week. Sen. Bieda said he hopes the House will hold hearings on the bills soon so that legislation could go to the governor before the end of the year.

Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom