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Bill would impose tougher penalties on Indiana animal abusers

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – An Indiana legislator says Animal abuse is happening more and more across the state. He is proposing a Bill that would Impose Tougher Penalties for animal abusers but it may not come up for a vote.

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This is the second time State Representative Ryan Hatfield of Evansville has authored a bill to protect animals and punish the people who abuse them. This year, like last, the bill may not get a hearing. One Terre Haute pet owner says "that's ridiculous."

"You hear stories all the time of animals starving because they just get left behind. I honestly think that's terrible."

Katie Gosnell has not owned her pug puppy long but says the dog is already part of the family.

"I think that if anybody were to hurt her I would want as harsh a penalty as you would give for a child."

Rep. Hatfield says House Bill 1094 would increase the offense for some animal abuse crimes from misdemeanors to felonies. This means abusers could spend more time in jail.

"Judges are only slapping the wrists of these animal abusers. This law aims to add a little teeth to the criminal code by providing a Level 6, or even a Level 5 in some cases, penalty which is punishable by up to three years in jail."

According to Rep. Hatfield, the bill has support from republicans and democrats but the Chairman of the Corrections and Criminal Code Committee, State Representative Tom Washburne, refuses to hear the bill.

Gosnell says, "I think that's absolutely ridiculous to be completely honest with you. If we don't enforce justice on this sort of thing it's just going to go unnoticed and more and more animals are going to suffer because of this."

Hatfield says people who abuse animals are more likely to harm people. That's why he says these crimes should be taken seriously, now.

The bill includes language regarding the tethering of an animal. Rep. Hatfield says this is a new part of the bill that was added after a dog was found left in a cage by a river in Central Indiana. The dog was dead and frozen.

Gosnell says, "I personally believe that if you're going to have a dog then you should have it inside. It should be a part of the family. It shouldn't be something that you just have there whenever."

More information on House Bill 1094 can be found here.

Contact your elected officials:

Representative Ryan Hatfield
Democrat, District 77
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Representative Thomas Washburne
Republican, District 64
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204


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