Iowa law allows some animal abuse suspects to skate, advocates say
SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Iowa has no felony animal abuse law for a first offense, meaning no matter the severity of the abuse, a first time offender can only serve a maximum of two years in jail for an aggravated misdemeanor.
Advocates say the lack of a more serious felony charge gives some abusers a free pass.
According to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, the law requires owners to give their pets food, water, shelter, veterinary care and a clean environment free from feces and urine. But even if police can prove a neglect charge, the law does not automatically remove the animal from the suspect’s care. Oftentimes, the ARL says police must take an extra step in civil court to remove an animal, and that step requires a veterinarian to examine the animal.
And, the ARL says, the law does not prevent suspects from simply purchasing a new animal.
“A misconception to the public is we’ll take the animals, we’ll get them to safety. And that is what they’ll do their turn around getting another animal, and then the public will call to say, ‘they have another animal?’ Unfortunately, it’s not illegal,” said Robyn Dobernecker, animal resource coordinator for the ARL.
A northwest Iowa shelter says they often receive calls about animal abuse, but find while the animal’s conditions are poor, they’re good enough to satisfy the law.
“Unfortunately in the state of Iowa, that is deemed okay for a dog to live. And that’s not okay. It’s just, it’s just not. But our hands are literally tied with that kind of stuff,” said Hailey Dirks, the shelter manager for the Humane Society of Northwest Iowa.
The Humane Society of Northwest Iowa says it’s difficult to quantify how much animal abuse and neglect happens in northwest Iowa. But they say the public would be surprised how often an animal is brought into the shelter from an abusive situation.
And the Humane Society of the United States just released its 2022 puppy mill report, two of those puppy mills are reported here in northwest Iowa.
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