Des Moines Man Sentenced for Stabbing Family Dog to Death

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Des Moines man received the maximum sentence for animal cruelty Tuesday, getting a two-year sentence.

Those two years were added to an additional 17 years Martell Simpson faces for a number of other crimes, including child endangerment, willful injury and domestic assault.

The charges stem from an incident in December 2018. Neighbors called police after they heard a dog yelping at a home on East Bell Avenue. Police say Simpson stabbed his dog to death in front of his wife and son.

The Animal Rescue League of Iowa says lawmakers need to toughen Iowa's animal cruelty laws. The ARL wants the law changed from an aggravated misdemeanor for a first offense, punishable by maximum two years in prison to a felony punishable by maximum five years.

“We need to do better for our animals and our citizens. A bill was proposed last year that made it through the house unanimously and it didn't get called to the Senate floor. We are hoping this case and other cases — as unfortunate as they are when they occur — will give some impetus to our legislators to pass this law," said Scott Wilson with the ARL of Iowa.

Simpson must also pay nearly $2,000 in fines.

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