ARL of Iowa Pushes For Tougher Animal Abuse Penalties

DES MOINES, Iowa -- State law says you could face up to two years in jail for getting caught abusing your pet.

The Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Iowa says this penalty is not enough and hopes the Iowa Legislature models a state that has tougher animal abuse laws.

In California, a woman accused of animal abuse isn't getting any leniency. More than 600 people expressed outrage over a viral video that showed Elaine Rosa appearing to drag a small dog behind her electric scooter last month.

Rosa is charged with felony animal abuse and neglect.

“The bottom line is, under present law, [we're] not even close. We are trying to get more penalties," Tom Colvin Executive Director of the ARL of Iowa said.

The ARL says if this happened in Iowa, the punishment would not fit the crime.

Under California law, anyone who intentionally harms or kills an animal could face felony charges, up to three years jail time or a $20,000 fine.

In Iowa, under both the animal abuse and animal torture sections, a first offense results in an aggravated misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to two years jail time and maximum $6,000 fine.

In this legislative session, the ARL is backing a bill to toughen the law in Iowa.

“Whether an animal is abused, whether you do it to your own animal or somebody else's animal, it's going for first offense torture," Colvin said.

Opponents want to support the bill but say some changes are needed first.

“The penalties do need to be stronger for abuse. What we are kind of against is that if we are in competitions like agility, rally, herding, sledding, these are all timed events and if the dog is injured then it would be considered abuse," Adel resident Steve Exline said.

There is no timeline for when the Senate is expected to take this bill up.

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