An effort to toughen penalties for animal abuse — and domestic abuse — wasblocked in the state house yesterday. The Iowa House voted to increasepenalties for animal abuse — AND domestic abuse, but the bill was blockedfrom moving forward in this session by a parliamentary procedure. Those found guilty of killing, maiming or torturing an animal would spent upto five years in prison under the bill. But a group of women legislatorspushed to boost the penalties for domestic abuse, so a first-time domesticabuser would spend the same amount of time in jail as a first-time catkiller. Representative Mary Mascher, a democrat from Iowa City, said today,a first-time domestic abuser is guilty of just a simple misdemeanor, whichbrings a month in jail or a fine.Representative Teresa Garman, a republican from Ames, said the bill was an”over-reaction” to incidents of animal abuse.Representative Rebecca Knight, a democrat from Bonaparte, representsFairfield, the site of the massacre of 23 cats at an animal shelter, anevent which spawned the bill. Knight says it is a very serious problem andthe cycle of abuse in society needs to be broken.Representative Galen Davis, a republican from Ottumwa, said abuse of animalsis a “red flag” for other types of violent behavior. He says some victims ofdomestic violence say things started with the hitting or killing of the family pet.
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