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ACTION ALERT: SENATE COMMITTEE VOTE COMING UP ON 9/16/21 FOR SB 366, REGARDING FELONY PROVISIONS FOR THE MISTREATMENT OF ANIMALS

Updated 9/14/2021
 
 

     The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety will be holding an executive meeting to VOTE on SB 366, regarding felony provisions for the mistreatment of animals, on Thursday, September 16, 2021! If you haven't emailed the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety asking them to SUPPORT this important bill, NOW IS THE TIME! YOUR ACTIVE SUPPORT IS VITAL IF THIS BILL IS TO PASS! There is serious opposition and this is our THIRD try — if AB 368/SB 366 fails, we likely won't get another chance!

     PLEASE email every member of the Committee and ask them to vote YES to pass SB 366 (relating to: Felony provisions for the mistreatment of animals) out of committee and on to the full Senate. The Committee contact information is below.

     At the very least, please send a quick email to the committee chair, Sen. Wanggaard, at: Sen.Wanggaard@legis.wisconsin.gov . Sen. Wanggaard is a co-sponsor of the bill, so you might thank him and let him know that you also strongly support it and want to see it voted out of committee and on to the full Senate.

  • Please put "Vote yes to move SB 366 out of Judiciary Committee" in the subject line of your email.

  • If the legislators are on the Co-Sponsor list , thank them and let them know that you also SUPPORT SB 366. If they are not, please let them know that you support SB 366 (relating to: Felony provisions for the mistreatment of animals) and ask them to vote it out of committee and on to the full Senate. Be sure to give your first and last name, street address, city, state and zip and, as always, please keep your tone polite and respectful.

  • If you want to give reasons for your position, please scroll down for a description of the bill, links to bill history and text, a summary of the bill, and our Talking Points below! Personal experience or insights would be even more valuable.


Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety
(bill cosposors in green.)

Sen. Van H. Wanggaard, Chair Sen.Wanggaard@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen. Eric Wimberger, Vice Chair Sen.Wimberger@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen. Alberta Darling Sen.Darling@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen. André Jacque Sen.Jacque@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen. Julian Bradley Sen.Bradley@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen. Lena C. Taylor Sen.Taylor@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen. Kelda Roys Sen.Roys@legis.wisconsin.gov

 

 pawprint bullet point   What To Expect At A Public Hearing   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety   pawprint bullet point


 pawprint bullet point   Bill Text   pawprint bullet point   Bill History   pawprint bullet point   Bill Summary   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point  TAKE ACTION    pawprint bullet point   Talking Points   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   What To Expect At A Public Hearing   pawprint bullet point   Find your WI State Representatives   pawprint bullet point


 

Injured dog with broken leg     On 5/25/2021, a VERY important bill was introduced into the WI State Senate: SB 366, relating to: Felony provisions for the mistreatment of animals. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. A public hearing is scheduled for September 9th.

     On 5/27/2021, the companion bill, AB 368, was introduced into the WI State Assembly. It was referred to the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. A public hearing was held in late August.

 pawprint bullet point    Committee on Judicary Hearing on AB 368 Proceedings (PDF)   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Assembly Committee on Judiciary Hearing Materials for AB 368 (PDF)   pawprint bullet point

     SB 366/AB 368 has had strong BIPARTISAN support from the beginning. To date, cosponsors of the bill include: Senators Wanggaard, Carpenter, Cowles, Jacque, and Smith; and Representatives Spiros, Armstrong, Baldeh*, Brandtjen, Cabral-Guevara, Callahan, Dittrich, Duchow, Gundrum, Kitchens, Milroy, Moses, Pronschinske, Schraa, Sinicki, Skowronski, Snodgrass, Steffen, Tusler, Zimmerman, Edming, and Ohnstad. (*Representative Baldeh withdrew as a coauthor on 8/24/21.)

     SB 366/AB 368 would make it a Class H felony if someone abuses an animal and it results in grievous bodily harm to or the death of the animal, and a Class I felony if someone commits an act of animal abuse that they know or should reasonably know may result in grievous bodily harm or death of an animal, regardless of whether that harm or death actually occurs. In addition, the bill would require a court to prohibit a person from owning, possessing, training, or residing with any animal for a specified period of time if they are convicted of felony animal abuse.

     We all know of cases -- either first-hand or through the media -- where the worst animal cruelty has occurred and the abuser arrested, only to get off with just a slap on the wrist. Or, worse, that the abuser wasn't even arrested because the DA didn't think it worth the effort for a "just a misdemeanor." And what of the abused animal, as well as other animals in that person's home? Will they be subjected to future abuse? It's time that Wisconsin caught up with neighboring states and passed a strong, enforceable law to address and correct this deficiency. We think that SB 366/AB 368 would be that law, and STRONGLY support it.

     Even though you'd think this bill would be a "slam-dunk" to get passed, we are expecting some very stiff opposition to it from certain factions. For instance, the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association has already registered as stongly opposed -- even though the language of the bill specifically "does not prohibit training or hunting with dogs in the manner authorized by the Department of Natural Resources." (What does it say about a certain "sport" that the bill authors feel the need to include this AND that the hounders are still opposed to a felony animal abuse bill? But that's a battle for another day.)

     At the moment, our goal is to get SB 366/AB 368 passed in this Legislative session, and we need YOUR help! We need all the letters, phone calls, and emails we can muster. Please also follow us on Facebook for breaking news and Action Alerts!

     YOUR ACTIVE SUPPORT IS VITAL IF THIS BILL IS TO PASS! There is serious opposition and this is our THIRD try — if AB 368/SB 366 fails, we likely won't get another chance!

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Bill Summary (by the Legislative Reference Bureau):

Sexual abuse of animals is no joke.     "Under current law, a person who commits an act of animal abuse is subject to a Class C forfeiture, unless the animal abuse results in the mutilation, disfigurement, or death of the animal, in which case the person is guilty of a Class I felony. Under current law, animal abuse means treating an animal in a cruel manner, but the prohibition on animal abuse does not prohibit normal and accepted veterinary practices.

     "Under this bill, the prohibition on animal abuse also does not prohibit training or hunting with dogs in the manner authorized by the Department of Natural Resources. Under this bill, a person who commits an act of animal abuse is guilty of a Class H felony if the animal abuse results in grievous bodily harm to or the death of the animal and is guilty of a Class I felony if the person knows or reasonably should know that the animal abuse may result in grievous bodily harm to or the death of an animal, regardless of whether grievous bodily harm or death occurs.

     "Under current law, a court may order that a person who commits an act of animal abuse may not own, possess, or train any animal or type or species of animal for a period specified by the court, but not to exceed five years. Under the bill, the court may enter such an order, including an order that the person may not reside with any animal or type or species of animal, if the person is convicted of a misdemeanor violation, and must enter such an order, including an order that the person may not reside with any animal or type or species of animal, for a period of up to fifteen years if the person is convicted of a felony violation.

     "Because this bill creates a new crime or revises a penalty for an existing crime, the Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties may be requested to prepare a report."

 pawprint bullet point   Wisconsin Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences   pawprint bullet point

 

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WHAT YOU CAN DO:

His eyes are on you.     General guidelines for contacting your representatives: Try to keep your message brief, and be sure to give your name, complete mailing address, and phone number. Let your representative know that you are a constituent. Please, ALWAYS be polite and respectful. Name-calling, and rude or abusive letters or emails will hurt, rather than help, our cause.

     As we wait for the Committee on Judiciary to schedule an Executive Session to vote on AB 368, if you haven't already emailed each member of the Committee asking that they support the bill, now is the time!

  • Please put "Assembly Committee on AB 368" in the subject line.

  • If the legislators are on the Co-Sponsor list , thank them and let them know that you also SUPPORT AB 368. If they are not, please ask them to vote YES to pass AB 368 (relating to: Felony provisions for the mistreatment of animals) out of committee and on to the full Assembly. If you want to give reasons for your position, please scroll down for Talking Points. Personal experience or insights would be even more valuable. Be sure to give your first and last name, street address, city, state and zip.


Assembly Committee on Judiciary
(bill cosposor in green.)

Rep. Ron Tusler (chair)
(608) 266-5831
Rep.Tusler@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep. Samantha Kerkman (vice chair)
(608) 266-2530
Rep.Kerkman@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep. Timothy S. Ramthun
(608) 266-9175
Rep.Ramthun@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt
(608) 266-3156
Rep.Thiesfeldt@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep. Cody Horlacher
(608) 266-5715
Rep.Horlacher@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep. Shae A. Sortwell
(608) 266-9870
Rep.Sortwell@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep. Marisabel Cabrera
(608) 266-1707
Rep.Cabrera@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep. Gary Hebl
(608) 266-7678
Rep.Hebl@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez
(608) 267-7669
Rep.Ortiz-Velez@legis.wisconsin.gov
  • Please contact both your WI State Senator and State Representative and ask for their SUPPORT of SB 366/AB 368, relating to: Felony provisions for the mistreatment of animals. You can find your representatives at: https://legis.wisconsin.gov/

    • If they have already signed on as co-sponsors (see Co-Sponsor list above), please THANK them and let them know you also support SB 366/AB 368.

    • If they are not listed as co-sponsors, ask them to "Please support SB 366/AB 368, relating to: Felony provisions for the mistreatment of animals.

    • Again, it is VERY important that you include your full name, street address, city, state and zip. Phone number and email address are also helpful.

  • If you want to give reasons for your position, please see our Talking Points below!

  • Also, please post your request/thanks on your Representative's Facebook page!

 pawprint bullet point   Find your WI State Representatives   pawprint bullet point

 

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Talking Points:

Blue- eyed dog     Here is the text of a co-sponsorship memo sent to All Legislators, from Representative John Spiros:

     "In February 2019, a Marshfield man placed nine newborn puppies into a trash bag and put them in a dumpster. Luckily, someone heard noises coming from the dumpster and contacted the Marshfield Police Department, who was able to save the puppies. Given the cold temperatures that time of year and the fact that the puppies were only one day old, they would surely have died quickly had someone not found them. You can watch this video for more context on the incident.

     "The Marshfield man was arrested and charged with intentional mistreatment of animals and intentional abandonment of animals. Both of these crimes are misdemeanors.

     "Under current Wisconsin law, these types of crimes can only be charged with a felony if the action of the defendant resulted in the mutilation, disfigurement, or death of an animal. And while in this case the perpetrator clearly knew his actions were likely to result in the death of the puppies, he can only be charged with a misdemeanor.

     "This bill would remedy that by saying that a person is guilty of a Class I felony if they commit an act of animal abuse that they know or should reasonably know may result in grievous bodily harm or death of an animal, regardless of whether that harm or death actually occurs. The bill also increases the penalty for an act of animal abuse that actually results in grievous bodily harm to or death of the animal to Class H felony.

     "Additionally, current law states that a court MAY order that a person who commits an act of animal abuse may not own, possess, or train any animal for a specified period of time. This bill would REQUIRE [emphasis ours] a court to prohibit a person from owning, possessing, training, or residing with any animal for a specified period of time if they are convicted of felony animal abuse.

     "As is the case with the Marshfield man who abandoned the puppies, many animal abusers have other animals at home. And despite their crimes, they are able to keep their animals after a conviction. This bill would ensure the most serious animal abusers are not able to continue to have animals in their home. "

  • We all know of cases -- either first-hand or through the media -- where the worst animal cruelty has occurred and the abuser arrested, only to get off with just a slap on the wrist. Or, worse, where the abuser wasn't even arrested because the DA didn't think it worth the effort for a "just a misdemeanor." And what of other animals in that person's home? Will they be subjected to future abuse? It's time that Wisconsin caught up with neighboring states and passed a strong, enforceable law to address and correct this deficiency. We think that SB 366/AB 368 would be that law, and STRONGLY support it.

    • In February 2019, a Marshfield man placed nine newborn puppies into a trash bag and put them in a dumpster. Luckily, someone heard noises coming from the dumpster and contacted the Marshfield Police Department, who was able to save the puppies. Given the cold temperatures that time of year and the fact that the puppies were only one day old, they would surely have died quickly had someone not found them. The abuser was arrested and charged with intentional mistreatment of animals and intentional abandonment of animals. Both of these crimes are misdemeanors. You can watch this video for more context on the incident.

    • Misty, an elderly lab mix, was taken out into the woods, stuffed into a canvas duffle bag, beaten with a hammer and left for dead by her owner, who had decided that she didn't want to deal with an old dog anymore. Misty was rescued, and her owner arrested. However, because Misty did survive -- even though the owner admitted her intention to kill the dog -- the abuser under current law could NOT be charged with a felony. More about Misty here.

    • A woman dropped off a severely malnourished dog, later named Gabriel, at the Dunn County Humane Society in November 2019. She originally maintained that she had found the dog at the side of the road, but later admitted that he was actually her dog. She was charged with felony mistreatment of animals, and intentionally failing to provide food for an animal which is a misdemeanor. (More details here.)

    • On October 26, 2020, a dog was found in Thorp with his front legs bound together with a black zip tie. In addition to severe lacerations to the legs, he appeared weak and skinny and was taken to an animal rescue representative from the local area for further care. The dog and owner were identified, and the owner was charged with mistreatment of animals and obstructing an officer in Clark County. (More details here.)

    • Even worse are the instances when the abuser hasn't even been arrested because DA's don't think it's worth the effort for a "just a misdemeanor."

    • Though a court may forbid the abuser to own any animals for a specific time, in many cases, this doesn't happen, and the abuser can even get back the very animal they were arrested for injuring in the first place!

  • Currently, even the most horrific of animal abuse is considered a felony ONLY if the abuse resulted in the mutilation, disfigurement, or death of an animal -- even if the abuser clearly intended to kill.

    • SB 366/AB 368 would make it a Class I felony to commit an act of animal abuse that an abuser knows or should reasonably know may result in grievous bodily harm or death of an animal, regardless of whether that harm or death actually occurs.

    • SB 366/AB 368 would also increase the penalty for an act of animal abuse that actually results in grievous bodily harm to or death of the animal.

  • Currently, a court MAY order that a person who commits an act of animal abuse may not own, possess, or train any animal for a specified period of time. Many abusers have other animals at home, and are able to keep them even after a conviction. They can even get back the animal they are convicted of abusing!

    • SB 366/AB 368 would REQUIRE a court to prohibit a person from owning, possessing, training, or residing with any animal for a specified period of time if they are convicted of felony animal abuse. The most serious of animal abusers would NOT be allowed to have animals in their homes.

  • Record of Assembly Committee on Judicary Hearing on AB 368 Proceedings (PDF), Assembly Committee on Judiciary Hearing Materials for AB 368 (PDF)

 

Abused dog at animal hospital


 pawprint bullet point   Bill Text   pawprint bullet point   Bill History   pawprint bullet point   Bill Summary   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point  TAKE ACTION    pawprint bullet point   Talking Points   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Find your WI State Representatives   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   What To Expect At A Public Hearing   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Reporting Animal Cruelty   pawprint bullet point

 

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