Animal rights advocates’ push to get legislators to make animal torture a felony crime may fall short at the statehouse again this year. Dramatic cases, like the killing of cats at a Fairfield animal shelter, have prompted calls for tougher penalties, but a bill on the subject is stalled in the Iowa Senate. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says there’s a great debate over the bill, behind the scenes. He says legislators are questioning whether making torture a felony would be so severe that judges wouldn’t use it.Iverson also says many Senators believe making animal torture a felony is too severe, particularly when other crimes like domestic abuse don’t carry such a harsh penalty.Senate President Mary Kramer, a republican from West Des Moines, says the main part of the bill calls for mandatory counseling for first-time animal abusers to find out if they might harm others.Kramer says an aggravated misdemeanor carries a prison sentence of up to two years — and that is probably enough for a person convicted of animal torture for the first time.
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