Dear State Legislature,
I am deeply saddened by the minimal regulation and enforcement of Animal Rights. Because we lack strong laws and enforcement, irresponsible pet owners continue to obtain, breed, sell, and recycle innocent animals into unsafe homes. Ultimately, many of these animals suffer and are turned over to Animal Control where they will ultimately face euthanasia while irresponsible...
Dear State Legislature,
I am deeply saddened by the minimal regulation and enforcement of Animal Rights. Because we lack strong laws and enforcement, irresponsible pet owners continue to obtain, breed, sell, and recycle innocent animals into unsafe homes. Ultimately, many of these animals suffer and are turned over to Animal Control where they will ultimately face euthanasia while irresponsible owners continue through the system without punishment or regulation.
I would like to focus on the laws in Maricopa County regarding domestic animals rights. First, the Arizona State Legislature has no regulation regarding puppy mills, backyard breeding, or animal sales and trade outside of the retail environment.
Second, there are minimal laws, only the punishment of a Class A misdemeanor, for any person who knowingly, intentionally or recklessly physically harms, neglects the need of food, water, and/or shelter; as well as if a person abandons, fails to provide necessary medical attention, leaves their pet in a vehicle causing physical harm or death, extensively torments the pet resulting in death, and harms or kills a working or service animal. The maximum penalty for these offenses are a fine up to $2,500 and/or imprisonment for 6 months.
Lastly, a Class Six felony is applicable under the circumstances that an individual intentionally or knowingly neglects the need of food, water, and/or shelter that results in serious physical harm, tortures an animal to serious physical injury, to kill an animal allowing prolonged suffering, kills or harms a working or service animal, allows their pet to kill or harm a working or service animal, or attempts to deprive a service animal handler of their pet. The maximum penalties for these offenses are a fine of up to $150,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 1.5 years. As you can observe, the laws are contradicting in nature and provide minimal punishment.
It is up to the investigating offers on the scene to properly report the extent of the injuries and have legitimate evidence to convict at both levels of offenses. Since there is no funding or state enforcement agency strictly for domestic animal cruelty, the local law enforcement non-emergency is responsible for assessing and handling the cases. However, in a majority of the instances due to the lack of reasonable response time and lack of knowledge in handling procedures in this highly sensitive environment, most evidence is lost or becomes useless. Prosecution becomes highly improbable. These individuals can then adopt or purchase any pet the very next day while the animals continue to suffer.
Animal cruelty does not just stop in private ownership. The Maricopa County Animal Control shelters operate with loose regulation from any local or state government. The intake of animals is very high and funding is too low, even with over thirteen million taxpayer dollars a year allow the shelter to operate, it is not enough. The Animal Control has been under scrutiny for being a “kill shelter”, but they cannot meet the demand of animals that are brought to them. There is an estimate of 150 animals brought in per day. To accommodate the demand for space, the decision to euthanize pets has to be made; resulting in between 70 pets euthanized all the way into the mid-100’s per day. The decision made for Euthanization in Maricopa County is made within 72 hours. At the mark of 72 hours, an animal can be euthanized by law.
With the minimum standard of 72 hours, the shelters take full advantage to accommodate. This results in steadfast and harsh evaluations seeking after major and extremely minor medical or behavioral flaws. Any ‘defect’ can result in the irrational death of an adoptable pet. Not only are the evaluations flawed but so is the process of locating previous or new owners for the pet. Three days is not enough time to process and locate an animal’s owner nor is it enough time to market and find a new one. It is also not enough time to learn and understand a pet’s true behavior. The programs need more funding and resources to stop senseless, unjustified killing.
With minimal standards set by state laws, animals will continue to suffer being euthanized without opportunity. Without local law enforcement agencies dedicated to Animal Cruelty Investigation Training and Departments, irresponsible pet owners will continue to thrive in the operation of pet owning, breeding, selling, and trading. Without laws that do not apply significant punishment to irresponsible pet ownership, animals will continue to suffer in abusive environments.
We are calling on you, our state legislature, to create stricter laws and enforcement standards in Maricopa County. We are calling on you to bring justice to the abused animals that suffer and die. We are calling on you to regulate the breeding, buying, and selling of domestic animals to ensure their proper treatment. We are calling on you to create programs within our law enforcement to handle these fragile cases for our states silent victims. We are calling on you to create heavier penalties for those that harm their domestic animals in any way, whether their offense resulted in minor or serious physical injury or death.
It is time to break the cycle of irresponsibility in Maricopa County. We can do this by creating heavier regulations, penalties, and providing dedicated enforcement for Animal Cruelty.