A bill heading to Governor Eric Holcomb’s desk puts the spotlight on giving animal abusers tougher penalties.
Felonies for animal abusers, that’s what House Bill 1615 will impose if signed into law by Governor Holcomb. The bill passed unanimously in the senate and house this month.
“So, it’s making some of those charges that were once misdemeanors into felonies, which is a big step in the right direction. We’re really pleased with what this will do, when it allows us to pursue those cases and find justice for these animals,” says Holly Pasquinelli, Community Relations & Education Specialist for Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control.
That includes a case made public this past week. Four-month-old puppy Barry was found in a cage dumped in the trash. Holly says Animal Care and Control has received some tips on who may have dumped him the trash.
Director of Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control Amy-Jo Sites has been in the statehouse pushing for legislation to not only help animals, but the community, too.
“She really hit on that connection that link between animal abuse and other types of abuse, really hitting home that we start prosecuting and slapping these charges on people who hurt animals, we’re protecting the citizens of our community, too. It’s really a full circle moment for us,” explains Holly.
Last year alone, Animal Care and Control Officers investigated and responded to more than 1400 calls. Not all of them turned into cruelty and neglect cases.
Regardless, Holly says this goes back to if you see something, say something, and give them a call.
“It’s also important to remember often times when animals are abused, it’s another sign another type of abuse is happening in a home. Not all the time, but it’s a pretty good indicator that there’s something else going on. So when you’re protecting that animal you could be protecting the people in that home, as well,” says Holly.
If Governor Holcomb signs the bill, it’ll go in effect this July.
If you suspect animal abuse, call Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control at 427-1244 or 449-3000 after 8 p.m. and on weekends.