Here’s a fun riddle for you- When is an animal not an animal? The answer? When it’s in Arizona.
Is this a trick question?
At least, that’s what the newly passed HB2150 (to take a look at the specific bill, click here) claims in an effort to weaken penalties for animal cruelty, neglect and abandonment for farm animals in the state. Passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives and in a more narrow 16-12 margin in the senate, the bill effectively exempts farm animals from the anti-cruelty code, stating that, inside the borders of Arizona, ‘Animal’ does not include livestock. This would now place them in a separate, weaker statute.
Sponsored by Republican House Representative Brenda Barton (You remember her, she’s the one that famously referred to President Barrack Obama as “De Fuhrer” on Facebook a couple years ago), the bill loosens state animal cruelty laws as pertaining to farm animals.
Considering how cushy their situation already was, it makes sense that they should stop getting all of that special treatment of being considered an “animal” and having people who neglect their medical needs receive zero punishment for it. For real, what do they want, to be treated like living things? They’re not even animals anymore! Remember, cuz the bill renamed them.
Renaming things is fun
So, if they aren’t animals, what are they? Do we just get to call them anything? Is it like, “Hey, look at that farm full of vuvzelas over there!” Seems like a solid plan, why didn’t we think of this before? In order to do whatever we want, we should just redefine stuff. Hey, it’s not robbing a bank if we start calling the bank, “My Wallet.” Genius!
You guys, Arizona may have gone through the closet to Narnia
The bill also eliminates the crimes of “abandonment” and “medical neglect” for livestock and poultry, strips municipalities and counties of their right to promulgate stronger animal welfare protections and requires that the Department of Agriculture must be notified prior to any investigation of reported livestock abuse, which would slow down and undermine law enforcement work.
That last part is pretty shady and Republican Senator John Kavanagh, who argued against the bill, took particular issue with this section. “[HB] 2150 requires police officers who are investigating livestock abuse to notify civilians in the Department of Agriculture, thereby potentially compromising ongoing investigations — or should I say, investigations that never get started,” Kavanagh told The Phoenix New Times. “No other area of law enforcement requires such an outside notification.”
Nothing helps catch a person red-handed as they do something wrong like announcing to them that you’re trying to catch them red-handed as they do something wrong. It kinda seems like this bill is designed to keep people from being able to do anything about mistreatment of animals. And by kinda, we mean that’s totally what it’s doing.
“Hey, just a heads up, we got word that you’re abusing animals but, you wouldn’t do that, riiiiigggght?”
Despite their very misguided representation, the vast constituency in Arizona is in favor of the exact opposite thing this bill does. Overwhelmingly passing the Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act in 2006, voters made Arizona the first U.S. state to ban veal crates, and the second state to ban gestation crates for pigs. In fact, according to a 2014 Mason-Dixon poll conducted after this bill was proposed last year, a staggering 87 percent of voters surveyed reported that they oppose putting farm animals in a new, weaker anti-cruelty code.
This bill didn’t go before the voters, however. It was passed without hearing the voice of the people these elected officials are supposed to represent, catering only to those who would stand to profit from its passage.
Apparently, the Arizona Legislature when it comes to doing what the voters want
If statements made by Arizona’s new governor Doug Ducey while running for office are to be believed, a veto would be a no brainer for this bill. Stating late last year, “I do not support exemptions in our anti-cruelty codes for any class of domesticated animals. No animal should be the victim of unspeakable cruelty.” The bill was crafted, however, with Arizona’s large and powerful agricultural community in mind, which makes Ducey’s decision an interesting one to watch. Either he stands by his promises and does the right thing for animals and the people, or he caters to lobbyists and allows the bill to stand.
If you are an Arizona resident, please contact Governor Doug Ducey’s office at 602.542.4331 before Tuesday, March 31st to urge him not to sign this bill into law. After calling, you can also submit a form set up by The Humane Society of the United States as a follow-up to urge the Governor to stand by his campaign promises for animal welfare.
If this backward piece of legislation goes into law, Arizona law makers might need to consider taking a page from the bill’s playbook and change their names to something new and whimsical. We have a few suggestions…none of them are safe for work.
Yes, we did
Lead Image Credit: X Brain