The Iowa Senate has voted to toughen penalties for animal abuse.

“I am sick and tired of hearing in the news on almost a daily or weekly basis of these cases where these companion animals are being abused,” said Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale.

Senator Tony Bisignano, a Democrat from Des Moines, agreed.

“This is needed in my community,” Bisignano said. “It’s gotten out of hand and we need to send the signal.”

The House voted last year to enhance penalties for animal neglect, torture and abuse. Senators working on the issue struck a compromise and kept the penalty for a first conviction on an animal torture charge as an aggravated misdemeanor rather than a felony.

Republican Senator Tom Shipley, a farmer from Nodaway, opposed the House-passed plan, but supported the scaled back bill which deals with abuse of pets and wild animals.

“We can’t fix bad people, but I think we can go a long ways towards dealing with these issues and keeping the animal agriculture business out of it,” Shipley said. “…I want to just also remind the body that we’re talking about animals here and I’m afraid sometimes there’s people out here in this world that get their animals confused with people.”

The bill cleared the senator on a 44-3 vote and it goes back to the House for consideration of the senate’s changes.