Gov. Mike Beebe and the Arkansas Legislature: Strike Down Proposed SB 13
This petition made change with 99 supporters!
Overview: This bill will criminalize and assess civil and practicable penalties against any animal welfare organization or private persons seeking to alert law enforcement to animal abuse. It will make the investigation of any case of suspected abuse by law enforcement impossible while holding law enforcement agencies financially and physically responsible for the care of animals in custody, a burden currently often covered through non-profit organizations and facilities.
This proposed legislation would eliminate the successful prosecution of any animals protected under current cruelty statutes by making the investigation and seizure of animals thought to be abused impossible. It also includes a whistleblower suppression clause preventing any humane society, humane officer or private person from collecting evidence to present to authorities for an initial complaint or to assist with collection of evidence throughout an investigation. Current cruelty statutes already require that only law enforcement can determine whether or not a case is prosecutable and an animal can be seized. In fact, there is little with this proposed legislation that is in any way beneficial to anyone except for abusers. Among its many faults, here are a few:
1. No other criminal law requires this standard of proof for probable cause.
2. It requires the affadavit of two separate veterinarians, one of which represents the defendant to show probable cause prior to a warrant issued by a judge before seizure of the animal, regardless of the animals' welfare status. Since not otherwise stated, the cost of obtaining the services of the veterinarians would be at the law enforcement agency's expense.
3.. Requires that the law enforcement agency conducting the investigation, house any seized animals at the agency's expense, within a limited geographical location and only through facilities that are under their direct jurisdiction until the case is successfully prosecuted through the courts. For large animals and exotics which cannot be housed through traditional animal control facilities, seizure of an animal for its own protection would not be possible. If there is no conviction, then the law enforcement agency recovers no costs associated with the housing, care or vetting associated with protecting the animal's wellbeing, costs and housing currently often covered by non-profit organizations. This would make the investigation and prosecution of a cruelty case a punitive burden on law enforcement.
4. Assesses criminal misdemeanor charges and makes liable for up to $5000 per each incident, any humane society, humane officer or PRIVATE person collecting any evidence in cases of animal abuse for the presentation to law enforcement. It also jeopardizes any licensing or right to act for any NGO involved with the collection of evidence of animal abuse.While masked as a "probable cause" explanation, this bill seeks to prevent the prosecution of any and all animal cruelty related cases by demanding more stringent requirements and assessing more potential liability to anyone seeking to stop or intervene in animal abuse. Our current cruelty statute, while ostensibly allowing the assessment of a felony charge, has already made the prosecution of such cases rare and unusual. This law's requirements far exceeds the requirements established to protect parental rights in regard to their children.
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