Victory! Arizona Vetoes Bill That Says Farm Animals Aren’t Animals

As we continue to grow more aware about the treatment of farm animals and legislative attempts to cover up abuse, some players within the agricultural industry are finding creative ways to weaken animal protections and hide what happens behind closed doors. This week animal advocates in Arizona won a victory against such efforts that they believe would have undercut laws in place that protect farm animals.

State lawmakers just passed an unfortunate bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Brenda Barton that would have removed farm animals from the state’s animal cruelty code, putting them in a separate and weaker statute, and added other measures that would have hindered law enforcement from investigating cases of cruelty on farms.

In essence, the bill said the creatures we’ve come to know and love as cows, pigs, chickens and horses aren’t animals …at least not according to the state.

The bill in question was supposedly introduced to increase protections for our companion animals and address hoarding, which would be obviously a good thing, but animal advocates argued that it was being done at the expense of farm animals who are just as capable of suffering and equally deserving of protection.

“Eighty-two percent of animal cruelty involves cats and dogs,” VICE reported Barton saying during a committee meeting. The bill “allows livestock to move out of the way so that law enforcement and appropriate agencies can deal with the animal abuse.”

That’s it, right there. Just get those pesky farm animals out of the way so agribusinesses can do whatever they want without fearing laws originally intended to protect animals in their possession, or having to worry about animal advocates trying to increase protection in the future.

Dr. Steve Hansen, president of the Arizona Humane Society, explained in a letter written on behalf of a coalition of groups opposing the bill some of the negative aspects of the bill: reduced penalties for acts of cruelty to farm animals; the omission of the crime of abandonment, which is currently a felony; and the prevention of cities and counties from enacting laws that are stronger than the state’s.

Republican Senator John Kavanagh also raised concerns about an odd reporting requirement that would make law enforcement officers investigating farm animal abuse to notify the Director of the Department of Agriculture, which he told the Phoenix New Times could compromise investigations or keep them from ever getting started.

After the bill passed, animal lovers and advocacy groups rallied to get Governor Douglas Ducey, who previously said he was against exemptions for any type of animal, to veto it and he listened. Yesterday, he officially took action against it, stating:

I know we all agree that animal cruelty is inexcusable, unacceptable and absolutely will not be tolerated in the state of Arizona. No animal should be the victim of abuse. Moreover, perpetrators must be held to account and properly penalized to the fullest extent of the law.

While the sponsors and supporters of this bill are well-intentioned, when changing state laws relating to the safety and well-being of animals, we must ensure that all animals are protected, and mindful that increasing protections for one class of animals does not inadvertently undercut protections for another.

There are still a few states trying to get ag gag legislation passed, but we can at least celebrate a win for animals in Arizona.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Lucille P.
Lucille P3 years ago

now all states and countries need to follow Arizona's lead :)

Virginia Abreu de Paula

Congratulation, Arizona!

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

While I don't think ANY animals should be abused, they are animals!

Pamela Allenson
Pamela A3 years ago

Just a drop in a DEEP bucket, nonetheless good for Arizona

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the useful information.

Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore3 years ago

For once, Arizona did something right!

Suzana Megles
Suzana Megles3 years ago

Barton said that Arizona should move out of the way (protecting farm animals) to protect companion animals. What a cockamania idea. Where do we get legislators like this? Thank God that others saw the foolishness of this proposed law and cast it aside. Last time I checked -God is the Creator of farm animals too and expects us to treat them humanely.

Anne P.
Anne P3 years ago

Wow, great news from a solidly red state like Arizona. Kudos to Gov. Ducey for vetoing this awful bill and the dedicated activists who convinced him to do so. There is hope, my friends!

Mahmoud Khalil
Mahmoud Khalil3 years ago