Could Tougher Animal Cruelty Laws Be In Arkansas' Future

JONESBORO, AR -- (KAIT) -- "Cruelty is cruelty, regardless of what animal it is," said Northeast Arkansans' for Animal's spokesperson, Wannda Turner.

Some would say cruelty to animals is becoming more and more prevalent in Arkansas.

There continue to be efforts made to get tougher penalties for people convicted of aggravated animal cruelty.

"Beef up our current laws so that they are stronger, they are more deterrent for people to do it,  and also gives us an opportunity to have felony charges," said Turner.

Turner says Arkansas is one of only 5 states where aggravated animal cruelty is not a felony charge.

She says right now the maximum sentence regardless of what the cruelty is, would result in only misdemeanor charges.

She says she hopes laws will change.

"We do believe there is a way to write the legislation to where everybody and every animal is protected to some extent," said Turner.

During the past several legislative sessions the Arkansas Farm Bureau took some heat because they took a stance against a proposed bill that would make aggravated animal cruelty a felony for first time offenders.

Public Relations Director for the Arkansas Farm Bureau, Steve Eddington, says quote," We're supportive of changes to animal cruelty laws as well. For the last three legislative sessions we've been supportive of a bill that would make repeat animal cruelty a felony," said Eddington.

"Farm practices that have long been the standard should not be affected by this. What we're looking for, and what we're hoping to prosecute is cruelty that someone knows is cruelty, that can easily be proved as cruelty," said Turner.