Sunday, February 1, 2009

Arkansas Legislature Toughens Animal Cruelty Laws but asks for Horse Slaughter Plant

ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE: LOCAL IMPACT : Curbing cruelty Animal bill passes House with ease
BY TRISH HOLLENBECK Northwest Arkansas Times

Posted on Sunday, February 1, 2009

An animal cruelty bill sponsored by a local legislator, which would promote violations to felony status in some cases, passed 88-9 Wednesday in the State House of Representatives and now only awaits Gov. Mike Beebe's signature to become the law.

State Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville, who sponsored the bill in the Senate where it passed 34-0 last week, said the legislation is being held for a signing ceremony.

"Many, many people have been involved for years in trying to get this passed, and we needed to coordinate with the governor's schedule," Madison said.

She said the signing ceremony is set for Feb. 4. in Little Rock.

"I've been working on animal cruelty for at least three sessions," Madison said.

When she first became elected in 1994, she said the first people who wanted to meet with her were Lib Horn, former head of the Fayetteville Animal Shelter and Candy Clark, former director of the Humane Society for the Ozarks.

"They laid out what they needed me to do," Madison said.

One of the items was felony animal cruelty.

SB 77 would make the torture of dogs, cats and horses a class D felony on first offense, punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. It would provide for enhanced penalties for animal cruelty in the presence of a child.

It also outlaws all animal fighting.

There was compromise.

The Arkansas Farm Bureau dropped its opposition to a first-offense felony provision for what is termed "aggravated animal cruelty." At the same time, animal advocates accepted a provision that took away their authority to make animal cruelty arrests. Only certified law enforcement officers can make arrests.

The bill provides for escalating misdemeanor penalties for second, third and fourth offenses of cruelty to all animals (except fish) within five years of a prior offense.

It provides for a higher felony, a Class C, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, on a second offense of aggravated animal cruelty committed within five years of the first one.

The bill also provides for psychological evaluation and/or treatment for offenders.

There are several exemptions that serve to protect the interests of the agriculture industry in the state and standard veterinary practices among other activities. Madison said she thinks farm people for the most part "are comfortable with it."

"I think there are still some people who worry that this is what they did this time, what are they going to do next?" she said.

While any law may need some finetuning, Madison said it has been made clear that "we're not going to ban the eating of beef."

The Farm Bureau opposed the animal cruelty bill, which failed, during the previous legislative session.

Madison said she thinks the difference this time around in getting the bill passed was that there was so much bad publicity in 2008 generated by some particularly grisly animal cruelty cases.

"A lot of fingers were pointed at the Farm Bureau. They became sensitive to the bad press, I believe," Madison said.

State Rep. Jim House, D-Fayetteville, was a sponsor and voted for the bill in the House of Representatives.

"I think it's been a long time coming. We've had animal cruelty legislation sponsored in the House the last several years. I think on this particular piece of legislation, so many of the players got together, farming groups, humane groups and others," he said. "Everybody got together before the session and came up with good compromise legislation."

The bill allows for lesser forms of animal cruelty to be misdemeanors and more serious forms of it to be a felony, he pointed out, and a felony conviction "out there is a deterrent to people doing mean and cruel things to animals."

Jill Hatfield, Fayetteville animal services superintendent, praised the bill's passage for enforcement purposes in cruel cases.

"I think, for us, finally, it's a relief. There's only so far we could go, and there's only so much we could do; and so we would see people who would continually starve animals and treat them cruelly, and it would just be kind of like a slap on the wrist," she said.

Making it a felony in these types of cases, she said, "gives us the ability to get these people to understand that it's a serious offense, by being arrested and having to really go through the court system."

She said a positive part of the bill is that "these folks are going to need to get psychiatric counseling and psychiatric evaluation."

"That's what we're really hoping is those who are doing those kinds of activities are going to get the help they need," she said.

"The bill really imposes more serious punishment when it's in front of a child," she said.

Hatfield, too, believes the differencemaker in getting the bill passed this session had to do with "such an outcry from the public because of the different things that happened."

She referred to an incident in September when six kittens were stolen from Springdale Animal Services and were found beaten to death in a Fayetteville parking lot on Sept. 11. Their heads had been smashed against concrete. Those animals were among 20 cats released from their cages. Four kittens were killed at the Springdale shelter.

"There's something very wrong with people who are doing those kinds of deeds, so folks need to be arrested and looked into for psychiatric help," she said.


It is interesting to note however, this is the same state legislature asking for a bill to legalize horse slaughter in Arkansas;


1 State of Arkansas
2 87th General Assembly DRAFT GLG/RCK
3 Regular Session, 2009 HCR
5 By: Representative Ragland
13 Subtitle
20 WHEREAS, horse processing is the most tightly regulated animal harvest;
21 and
23 WHEREAS, horse processing is the only animal processing for which
24 transportation is regulated; and
26 WHEREAS, the Horse Welfare Coalition estimates that annually ninety
27 thousand (90,000) to one hundred thousand (100,000) unwanted horses will be
28 exposed to potential abandonment and neglect if horse processing plants are
29 forced to close and horse export options are eliminated; and
31 WHEREAS, those ninety thousand (90,000) to one hundred thousand
32 (100,000) unwanted horses will compete each year for adoption with the
33 thirty-two thousand (32,000) wild horses that United States taxpayers are
34 currently paying forty million dollars ($40 million) to shelter and feed; and
36 WHEREAS, the nation's inadequate, overburdened, and unregulated horse
2 11-03-2008 08:56 GLG009
rescue and adoption f 1 acilities cannot handle the influx of approximately
2 sixty thousand (60,000) or more additional horses each year that would result
3 from a harvesting ban, according to the Congressional Research Service; and
5 WHEREAS, many zoo animal diets rely on equine protein because it
6 closely resembles the food that the zoo animal would consume in the wild; and
8 WHEREAS, many veterinarians and animal nutritionists assert that equine
9 protein is the healthiest diet for big cats and rare birds; and
11 WHEREAS, the only source of equine protein that is inspected by the
12 United States Department of Agriculture will be eliminated if federal
13 legislation shuts down horse processing facilities,
19 That the House of Representatives of the Eighty-seventh General
20 Assembly of the State of Arkansas requests all members of the Arkansas
21 congressional delegation to support the continuation of horse processing in
22 the United States and to offer incentives that help create horse processing
23 plants, such as state-inspected horse harvest for export.
25 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the House of Representatives of the Eighty26
seventh General Assembly of the State of Arkansas urges the Congress of the
27 United States to support new horse processing facilities and the continuation
28 of existing facilities on both the state and national level.
30 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the House of Representatives of the Eighty31
seventh General Assembly of the State of Arkansas urges the Congress of the
32 United States to oppose S. 311 and H.R. 503 of the 110th Congress and to
33 support the processing of horses in the United States and internationally.
35 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the House of Representatives of the Eighty36
seventh General Assembly of the State of Arkansas supports the location of United States 1 Department of Agriculture-approved horse processing facilities
2 on state, tribal, or private lands under mutually-acceptable and market3
driven land leases and, if necessary, a mutually-acceptable assignment of
4 revenues that meets the needs of all parties involved with the horse
5 processing facility; and
7 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, after adoption, copies of this resolution
8 shall be sent by the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives to the
9 members of Arkansas's congressional delegation, the President of the United
10 States Senate, and the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.



Anonymous said...

It's a violation of federal law to ship out horsemeat for human consumption to other countries. It's a violation of federal law for United States citizens to consume horsemeat. So why in the world does Arkansas need a horse slaughter house?

Anonymous said...

you people are crazy. You would rather see old and cripple horses starve or be turned loose than go to slaughter. Stay in your own bussness and let horse people handle their own

Anonymous said...

Wow! How incredibly naive. Horses are not JUST slaughtered for meat, morons. This is rediculous. Horses are slaughtered for the production dozens of things including dog food and glue. I will let you in on something, farmers and ranchers are NOT comfortable with this idea. It is much more expensive to keep an old horse around and feed it, than to sell it to a slaughter house where people can get some use out of it. Farmers and ranchers (the real ones, who actually do it to try to turn a profit) are actually the most against this idiosy, because they have learned to deal with the deaths of thier animals. They are used to this happening, and they generally are not the "touchy feely" sort of people like those of you trying to push this. Use some common sense people, stay in your office buildings and think about YOUR jobs. Let the people who deal with horses and the slaughtering of horses do thier job. Lets see, how many people do you know that are organ donors, or people who want thier remains to be used for science? We can't talk to horses, but if we could, I bet they would rather be used as a benefit to the world rather than rot away in some pasture neglected by everyone else, because they are worth nothing but sentimental value now. Arkansas needs a horse slaughter house because the plant actually does produce some good products, and it's good for our economy. Yes, you people ARE crazy.

Anonymous said...

Horse Slaughter Houses are a necessary evil! I LOVE horses and wish not a single one should have to be taken to one. BUT....I hate it even more to see a horse being neglected and left to starve itself to death because teh owner has realized they dont have the money or feel the responsibilty to care for the animal. I see it a lot here in Arkansas in rural area's Litterally the horse is standing their starving to death and the owner is waiting on it to die. The horse is not given any hay, feed, and the pasture is no good and the owner has no plans of spending the money to seed it. You folks need to put your money where your mouth is when you start screaming NO NO to the slaughter house. What would you want...If you were put in a room and left in the care of someone else and they were your sole provider, and they stopped bringing, food & water and you were left there simply to starve until you were dead. At what point would you say...please just put me out of my misery it is painful to die of starvation. And before you pass judgement you need to drive around in rural area's and see these poor animals barely standing and litterally starving to death. Yes I know the owner should being doing that but they are..and taking away the only thing thses dumb ass owners have is the right to take them to the slaughter house and at least put the poor things out of their misery. I wish their was a screening process before you could own a horse but then you folks would be sceaming that is wrong too! You must pick the lesser of the 2 evils, slaughter house or starvation.
Need a look at up Hwy 21 N out of Clarksville, AR about 20 minutes and you will see about 10 horses on your left standing on 1 acre with NO grass, NO hay and a sludge hole for water. It is truly sad & sick. And it is one of many places like that Ive seen. If you are going to scream NO to the slaughter house then please start using yoru money and delivering hay, ect. to these places. Put your money where your mouth is.