DES MOINES, Iowa-- The new Iowa legislative session began Monday, and animal activists are already lobbying for change. Some organizations want Iowa lawmakers to finally get tough on animal abuse.
Over the weekend, a man tossed a burlap feed sack filled with a litter of 14 puppies over a bridge into cold water.
“They would have died shortly afterwards if they would have gone into that icy water," Amy Heinz with Aheinz57 Pet Rescue said.
It happened in Harrison County, Missouri, 20 miles south of Lamoni, Iowa.
The Harrison County Sheriff says the man is at large. He faces 14 counts of animal neglect and abuse, one for each of the puppies.
“It would just be a misdemeanor, and even if they did get charged, they would just get their hands slapped and find. He wouldn't do a day in jail," Heinz said.
Iowa Voters for Companion Animals hope toughening animal cruelty laws is a priority this legislative session.
“They are really weak and inadequate now for those types of cases. We want to increase the penalties. Iowa is one of only two states without a first offense felony charge for egregious animal cruelty,” Executive Director of Iowa Voters for Companion Animals Haley Anderson said.
The bill prohibits the mistreatment of animals other than livestock and wild animals.
If passed, it would enhance penalties for previous animal abuse convictions and allow law enforcement to rescue animals from hot cars.
In the last legislative session, a similar bill did not make it onto the floor.