State legislation puts teeth into animal abuse punishment

It isn’t often, it seems, that Democrats and Republicans in Lansing can find common ground. Partisan politics typically rules in the state capital; both parties are guilty of stoking those fires.

That, thankfully, didn’t happen with a bill that would stiffen the penalties for harming and/or killing animals. Earlier this week, the state House voted 90-15 — with a handful of both Democrats and Republicans casting nay ballots — on a measure that includes penalties as high as 10 years in prison for knowingly killing, torturing, mutilating, maiming, disfiguring or poisoning a companion animal to threaten or cause emotional pain to a person.

“Well, I mean, pets are companions,” state Rep. Tommy Brann, R-Wyoming, told The Detroit News. “Sue and I never had any kids, and our dogs were a big part of our family.”

We’d add they are a big part of a lot of peoples’ families, but we suspect Rep. Brann, who obviously is an animal lover, already knows that.

According to Brann’s office and the News, neglect or cruelty against an animal would mean 93 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. It would mean one year in prison and a $2,000 fine for the death of an animal or cruelty or neglect against two to three animals. But then the penalties go up to a maximum of 10 years in prison, depending on the number of animals hurt, the number of prior convictions and whether they were killed with the intent to provoke psychological distress in a human being, the News reported.

In addition to significant bipartisan support, the bill was backed by, among others, the Michigan Humane Society, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Attorneys for Animals and the Michigan Coalition to end Domestic and Sexual Violence, the News stated. Add The Mining Journal Editorial Board to that list.

We believe harming an animal is just inexcusable and people who do it should be punished — severely. We hope this bill is ultimately signed into law.