Animal Cruelty Bill Moves Forward - 8 News NOW

Animal Cruelty Bill Moves Forward

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LAS VEGAS -- Animal abuse is one step closer to becoming a felony. The Nevada Senate passed a bill making animal abuse on the first offense punishable by a year in jail. Currently, animal abuse is only a felony after three misdemeanor violations. Animal rights advocates say this change is long overdue.

Those advocates say there is a direct link between animal abuse and violent crimes. So they say putting animal abusers behind bars after the first offense could help lower the number of domestic violence and other criminal cases.

"I was shocked that it's not until your third act of cruelty, torture, mutilation or killing an animal that it becomes a felony," said Gina Greisen, president of Nevada Voters for Animals.

Animals are considered silent victims, never being allowed to call for help. And the state's largest shelter, the Animal Foundation, sees all types of abuse.

"We see serious cruelty like burning of animals on purpose, cropped ears clearly not done by a veterinarian," said Christine Robinson, executive director of the Animal Foundation.

One three-year-old female dog was brought in Monday. She was left for dead after her owners bred her for her puppies and then took off. She had an allergic reaction and was losing fur and skin, but fortunately, a neighbor discovered her and called animal control.

"We see animals that come here through no fault of their own in some terrible, terrible conditions. And sometimes, the only thing left is a humane euthanasia. And it's sad and it's wrong and it needs to change," said Robinson.

Now, the people who commit this cruelty will go to jail for a year and pay a steep fine.

"We want folks to know the punishment will now fit the crime," said Greisen.

But the bill's supporters say it goes beyond just pets.

"It was meant to protect not just animals, but people too. Why should you have to wait until an abuser starts abusing family members when you can hold them accountable when they're abusing the family pet," said Greisen.

Animal control will continue to investigate these cases.

Section two of this bill clarifies that a person who separates a dog or cat from its mother before it is eight weeks old or is accustomed to taking food or nourishment other than by nursing is guilty of a misdemeanor.

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