A bill that would increase the penalties for animal cruelty won approval from a House committee Tuesday.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 8-1 to send HB 235 to the House floor for debate by all representatives.
The bill would make it a crime for anyone to knowingly or intentionally hurt an animal. A violation of the law would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. However, a second conviction would be a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Britney Wallesch, executive director and founder of the Black Dog Animal Rescue, said without the possibility of charging someone with a felony, Wyoming lags behind other states in laws designed to prevent animal cruelty.
“Without felony charges, that puts us at the bottom in terms of protections for animals across the country,” she said.
The bill would also make it a crime to stage an exhibition of any kind of animals fighting and would require the state Board of Veterinary Medicine to create standards for the euthanization of animals and regulate those who perform the euthanization.