As of July 29th, 2009 (last Friday), animal cruelty became a felony in Arkansas. Act 33 makes torturing a dog, cat or horse a felony on first offense, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a $10k fine. There’s a 5 year sentencing enhancement if any of these acts are committed in front of a child. That last provision brings up the issue of who lawmakers perceive as the true victims of animal cruelty — the animals who endure the cruelty or the people who witness it (Luis has written compellingly on this very issue). But I’ll not cavil about this or why the law only extends to dogs, cats and horses.
My president keeps telling me not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. So, while I’m trying not to cry over the state of health care reform, I’ll be happy about the fact that this law has actual teeth and represents a significant step forward for animal protection.