TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona House Bill 2671 passed in the House and Senate, it's now moving to the Governor's desk for final approval.
The bill will cause a more severe punishment for those who intentionally abuse an animal. Right now, the law states if a felony has been committed, there's a chance it could be tried as a misdemeanor.
"Sometimes in those misdemeanor cases, that whole thing about sometimes people are just given a slap on the wrist and then they go on an re-offend, we find that to be true in those violations," Michael Duffey, the animal crimes investigator at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona said. "If they have committed a felony level, lets prosecute them for the felony."
Duffey says under the new law when all the evidence is there, and a felony has been committed, the case is automatically tried as a felony.
"It's very seldom, it's so very rare, that a person that's cruel to an animal, stops with being cruel to animals," Duffey said.
The HSSA has responded to more than 7,000 cruelty cases last year. They're hoping this bill will help lower that number.
It's been an eight year push for this bill by the Animal Cruelty task force of Southern Arizona, a group that Duffey started.
GOING TO THE GOVERNOR’S DESK- HB2671, making the penalty harsher for people who abuse animals, is now waiting for a signature from the Governor to become a law.— Veronika Vernachio (@vvernachio) May 7, 2019
The Governor has a week to sign it into law.
I’ll have more tonight on @kgun9 at 10 on what this bill means. pic.twitter.com/RauoSJxRDP
Duffey said when a dog that has been abused comes to the humane society, "the dog is circling the drain, fixing to die".
Critics of this bill said it may add more people to prison, who would be better off getting counseling.
However, Duffey said having this bill is a good start to reducing the amount of violence in Arizona.
"If we can get that individual some kind of counseling or corrective behavior, even if it involves a year in prison or a years worth of probation, to get them to quit being like that," Duffey said.
Governor Doug Ducey has a week to sign the bill, from when it passed Friday, for it to become a law.