Decision Maker Response

Mary Cavanagh’s response

Mary Cavanagh
State Representative

Sep 22, 2014 — 
Thank you for your interest in SB 285 and SB 286 regarding treatment of animals and increase penalties for animal cruelty, abuse and neglect.

The current penalties for crimes against animals can fall far short in egregious cases. Michigan law should include enhanced penalties for offenses that involve large numbers of animals, companion animals, intentional abuse, psychological trauma to a pet owner, and repeat offenders, as well as pet shop owners or breeders with multiple violations of the pet shop law.

Currently, the most severe penalty for animal neglect or cruelty applies to cases involving 10 or more animals, or two or more prior offenses. Crimes involving the killing or torturing of animals are not distinguished based on whether the animal was someone's pet, or whether the offender intentionally committed the act or intended to cause someone mental distress or to control a person. The bills would factor in these circumstances, and adjust penalties accordingly.

Also, Senate Bill 286 would include enhanced sentencing scoring for acts intended to manipulate, or cause psychological injury to, a victim. In cases of domestic abuse and child abuse, abusers may control victims through threats and violence against family pets, which can cause psychological harm to the pet owner.

The bills could make it easier for law enforcement to target and isolate individuals, such as murderers, domestic abusers, and other violent offenders, who pose a danger to society. Many studies and reports suggest that animal abusers are likely to commit other violent crimes.

Ultimately, by establishing harsher penalties for crimes against animals, the bills could help prevent violent crimes against individuals. These bills were referred to the committee on criminal justice, of which I’m not a member. I am hopeful they will come before the house for a vote. Being a pet owner myself, I am in support of SB 285 and SB 286. We must always look out for our furry friends.

Phil Cavanagh

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