After Dumping Ground For Dogs Discovered, Arizona Reevaluates Animal Welfare Laws

Last March, Arizonans discovered a dumping ground for dead dogs, some with yellow rope tied around their legs and necks, on a vacant lot in south Phoenix.

An 11-person task force has been established with the goal of improving animal welfare in the state and is examining shortcomings in the state law that leave prosecutors unable to pursue animal cruelty cases.

“We have gathered together a group of passionate community leaders, local business owners and animal welfare experts to create a system that will ensure the safety and well-being of all animal residents of our city and state,” Councilwoman Thelda Williams told CBS5AZ.

The group intends to raise public awareness about animal abuse through public service announcements and legislative changes that address incidents that are caused by both ignorance and intentional acts of cruelty. They want to work with schools to educate children about being kind to animals and may even make an app to help people report suspected abuse. Police investigated nearly 300 animal cruelty cases last year and were unable to solve 203 of them, many of which were abandoned animals whose owners couldn’t be tracked down.

“Last year the Arizona Humane Society, which is contracted with Phoenix Police Department to assist in animal cruelty investigations, ran about 5,000 calls. This year in the first eight months, we’ve had 5,700 calls,” said Chris West, of the Arizona Humane Society.

Under the current law, neglect and abandonment are misdemeanors that can result in a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and up to $500 in fines, while intentional mistreatment, or repeat offenses, can result in a felony charge with up to two years in prison and $150,000 in fines.

The task force members believe that more of the cases that have been brought to law enforcements attention would have resulted in convictions if the laws were clearer and plan to clarify definitions of cruel confinement and abandonment, in addition to establishing guidelines for acceptable shelter and requirements for clean drinking water.

“Basically, we are combing different statutes in different states for definitions that would allow for appropriate (police and rescuer) intervention,” Rep. Kate Brophy McGee , (R-Phoenix) told the AP.

Another issue the group plans to tackle are charges for those who abuse animals in domestic violence cases.

“Those are probably the (cases) that offend prosecutors the most,” Tutelman said. “What we are talking about here are people who have a pet that really is a part of their family — an innocent part of their family — and to have them subject to abuse the same way someone in a bad relationship is subject to abuse — it’s just tragic for the person who is being abused and for the animal,” Deputy City Prosecutor John Tutelman told the Arizona Republic.

The group is planning on introducing tougher legislation after the next session begins in January.


Related Stories:

First U.S. Animal Abuse Registry Makes Convicts Public

The Link: New Mexico Recognizes the Link Between Animal Cruelty and Domestic Violence

Animal Cruelty: Who is to Blame?


Photo credit: Thinkstock


Susan O.
Susan O5 years ago

Stupidity is rampant in Arizona.

Marieanne Phillips

We live in the 21st century. Why are people so backward when it comes to animal welfare and protection? For wild and for domestic.

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch5 years ago

What a silly question........OF COURSE there should be harsher penalties for animal abuse in all 50 states!

Sheri D.
Sheri D5 years ago

There needs to be tougher penalties--especially serving jail time!

Jessica O.
Jessica O5 years ago

Throw them in jail!!! Make them work off the debt it cost to hire all these people to police these ignorant people!

Patricia E.
Patricia Everman5 years ago

Glad that Arizona is planning to make a real effort to prosecute animal cruelty cases!

Mark Donner
Mark Donner5 years ago

Italy doesn't have and doesn't want kill "shelters" and it has no problem organizing that situation.. just goes to show you how the animal cruelty slime in america have pulled the wool over sheepish americans that killing and cruelty is the order of the day for conscience free corporate regimented America.

ann b.
Ann B5 years ago

Good that Arizona is starting to make an effort, keep it up.

Georgia Armstrong
Georgia a5 years ago

It seems our Government is always wanting to stick their two cents into our lives so this is a good one for them. Why not a national law for animals, one that is truly enforced, with set laws and penalties for our animals. I mean a truly good law with big teeth in it that means mandatory time for people who abuse animals. I am so sick of seeing them get off with a light rap on their knuckles. Anyone who deserts an animal on the street, starves or beats one, puts one in a fight, leaves a collar on it's neck to become embedded....all of these are cruel and merit punishment. So if the Government will set up some tought laws for the states, put some teeth in them and see that they're actually enforced for a change, I might be for this.

janet f.
janet f5 years ago

Having harsher penalties for animals abuse is great but, the judges and prosecutors need to start taking these crime seriously and send these thugs to jail. Perhaps mandatory minimum jail time and fines are necessary.