Iowans Want Animal Abuse Laws Changed - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Iowans Want Animal Abuse Laws Changed

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By: Claire Powell
Twitter: clairenpowell


In early July, Iowan Zachary Meerdink had his animal abuse conviction overturned by the Iowa Court of Appeals. Meerdink had beat his puppy to death with a baseball bat in late 2011 but never spent any time in jail.

Now the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and other animal rights activists want some state laws changed.

The Iowa Attorney General's Office is seeking further review from the Iowa Supreme Court about the Meerdink case. The office wants clarification on the word "depraved" in conjunction with the Iowa animal torture law. 

Animal rights activists hope that the abuse and torture laws will be subject to change.

"That seems to be the definition of 'depraved intent' to us but if it's not to the courts... we have to know," said Tom Colvin, Executive Director at the ARL. 

Thirty-seven other states have animal torture laws listed as a first-time felony, but Iowa's animal torture law is a second offense misdemeanor. 

"I think this just shows that we really need to go back to the legislature and say kind of here's proof that this needs to be first offense felony. You know, to take matters into your own hands, in this direction there is no excuse," said Colvin.

Community members were shocked at the ruling.

"We're going to continue to lobby the legislature for more laws that will protect companion animals," said Lin Sorensen, Founder of St. Francis Foundation for Pets.

And they want the laws changed, as well.

"This was an intentional, deliberate act this was not a knee-jerk reaction, this was premeditated," said Sorensen.

"To take matters into your own hands in that direction, there in our minds is no excuse," said Colvin. 

The activists hope to begin the change in the laws as soon as the next legislative cycle in January of 2014. 

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