Senate committee hears testimony on animal abuse bill

Las Vegas police lobbyist Chuck Callaway told members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday that if they pass Senate Bill 223, then the crime of animal cruelty will have a harsher penalty than first-time domestic battery.

“They could beat their wife and it would be a gross misdemeanor and beat their dog and it is a felony,” he said.

He added that animal control officers now investigate cases of animal abuse, but if the bill passes, then police officers would have to investigate. He estimated it might cost $2.5 million a year to jail animal abusers in Clark County.

Committee Chairman Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, took no action on the bill, which attracted dozens of animal lovers who testified in favor of passage. The bill must be passed out of the committee by April 15 or it will be declared dead.

Under the bill proposed by Sen. Shirley Breeden, D-Henderson, a person who maliciously and willfully kills, hurts or injures an animal could be charged with a felony, an offense that brings at least one year in prison. Under current law, a person must be convicted twice of maliciously hurting or killing an animal before a felony offense would apply.