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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Kansas Senate panel works on cruelty to animals bill

TOPEKA, Kan. - The Senate Judiciary Committee is working on a bill to make cruelty to animals a felony.

Supporters of the idea have long argued that keeping the crime a misdemeanor sends the wrong message to people who torture, maim or kill pets and note that violent criminals often have a history of abusing animals.

But legislators have rejected a proposed "Scruffy's Law" over the past nine years because probation is the presumed penalty for low-level felonies. The idea was named for a Yorkshire terrier burned and tortured to death in Wyandotte County in 1997.
The Judiciary Committee is considering a proposed "Magnum's Law," after a mixed-breed puppy found last year injured and burned in a recycling bin in Wichita.

It would make cruelty to animals a felony and require jail time of at least 30 days and a fine of at least $1,500. Offenders would be housed in county jails rather than state prisons.

On Tuesday, committee members added an amendment to have the state reimburse counties for confining such offenders. Lawmakers have no estimate of how much the payments would be.

The committee could continue its review of the bill Wednesday


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