An attempt to strengthen Wyoming’s animal cruelty laws won approval in its first House review on Monday.
HB 235, making some animal cruelty crimes a felony, won 37 “aye” votes to pass in its “Committee of the Whole” review. It will be read a second time Tuesday.
Under current law, the a person accused of animal cruelty could face a misdemeanor charge with a maximum sentence less than one year in jail. HB 235 would make it a felony for anyone to “unnecessarily or cruelly” beat, torture or otherwise harm an animal. The crime would be punishable by a sentence of up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Bill sponsor Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, said the state has needed a felony animal cruelty law on the books for some time.
“We’ve had 10 years now of trying to fix our animal cruelty statutes and we’ve piecemealed various things together that haven’t worked,” he said. “So this is the first large step that we’ve gotten to really put an aggravated cruelty to animal statute in place.”