March 21, 2007 - Posted at 9:19 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO, AR -- Arkansas legislators have the choice to make animal cruelty a felony on the first offense or second offense.
Competing bills were passed in the House and Senate Tuesday to increase the penalties for anyone convicted of animal cruelty.
But Region 8 animal proponents aren't on board with the legislation and you might be surprised why.
Senate Bill 777 makes aggravated cruelty a felony on the first offense and Senate Bill 794 and House Bill 2788 would make the second offense a felony if a person is convicted of aggravated torture twice in a five year period.
"If this was allowed to be done to a dog the first time, why would you want an individual to have the opportunity to do it again five years later and it still be a misdemeanor?" questioned Wannda Turner of the Northeast Arkansans for Animals as she held a picture of an abused dog, "This should be a first time felony charge."
The bills would require cruelty inspectors to attend forty hours of school. Bill 777 also would allow humane investigators to make arrests and get warrants without the aid of the police dept.
"As the director of NAFA and Northeast Arkansans for Animals, we are really not supporting any of the three bills and hope that the legislature will squash all of these and go back to the drawing board and come up with something that is going to be a good felony cruelty bill," remarked Turner.