Animal torture bill would make three convictions a felony

Animal torture bill would make three convictions a felony »Play Video
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A bill passed the House Agricultural Affairs committee Tuesday afternoon that would make animal torture a felony on the third conviction.

"Torture means the knowing and willful infliction of unjustifiable or extreme or prolonged pain with the intent to cause suffering," said Ken Andrus.

Representative Andrus is sponsoring the bill after hearing from animal welfare groups that say Idaho's laws just aren't good enough.

There was a lot of concern from legislators that the bill would lead down a path where ranchers and farmers could face felonies.

"I have pets too, and I would hate to see that happen to them but I am also concerned when I hear that this should happen to production animals too," said representative Julie Vanorden.

Brent Olmstead from Milk Producers of Idaho says he doesn't support or oppose this bill but he's scared about where it might lead.

"We have generations of people who were not raised on farms and do not understand acceptable agricultural procedures and they are people in authority and people who can make this jump into production agriculture," said Olmstead.

Mark Engebrecht knows what it's like to have his pet killed. Popeye was an 11 year old pug, shot and killed in a Boise neighborhood in January.

The Engebrechts still don't know who did it, but he says it breaks his heart to think about the laws.

"To think that somebody could be slapped on the wrist for taking his life with a firearm in the city limits and it could be two misdemeanors, blows me away," said Engebrecht.

The humane society used popeye as an example in today's hearing. While Engebrecht feels the bill isn't strict enough, he thinks it's a step in the right direction.

Engebrecht says it's bittersweet but if the loss of Popeye helps others, it would bring him some peace.

"If we cant figure out what happened to popeye, if we never figure out what happened to popeye if he can be that face that helped push this legislation through, it can atleast rest with that," said Engebrecht.

"Torture means the knowing and willful infliction of unjustifiable or extreme or prolonged pain with the intent to cause suffering," said Ken Andrus.

Representative Andrus is sponsoring the bill after hearing from animal welfare groups that say Idaho's laws just aren't good enough.

There was a lot of concern from legislators that the bill would lead down a path where ranchers and farmers could face felonies.

"I have pets too, and I would hate to see that happen to them but I am also concerned when I hear that this should happen to production animals too," said representative Julie Vanorden.

Brent Olmstead from Milk Producers of Idaho says he doesn't support or oppose this bill but he's scared about where it might lead.

"We have generations of people who were not raised on farms and do not understand acceptable agricultural procedures and they are people in authority and people who can make this jump into production agriculture," said Olmstead.