Policy Priorities

KEY POLICY PRIORITIES FOR 2021

First Offense Felony Penalty for Animal Torture

Summary: This provision was included in the original version of our Community and Pet Protection Act (HF737), which the Iowa House passed unanimously during the 2019 legislative session. While amended out of the final version in order to get the bill to the Senate floor, we have continued educating legislators and candidates about the importance of such a criminal penalty for egregious animal cruelty. As Iowa is now the only remaining state in the nation without a first offense felony penalty for animal torture and the federal PACT Act was signed into law in 2019, making specific acts of animal cruelty a federal felony, it is clear — our state has fallen behind. While we still hope to pursue this change during the 2021 legislative session, sadly, it appears that this may not be the year we see this happen in Iowa. We’ll keep you posted.

Veterinary Immunity Bill

Summary: This bill, granting Iowa veterinarians immunity from administrative, civil, or criminal liability when reporting animal abuse or participating in animal cruelty investigations, is critical to protecting Iowa pets. We are encouraged as the Iowa House of Representatives passed this bill unanimously during the 2020 session before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Require State Oversight of All Commercial Dog Breeding Facilities in Iowa

Summary: Our Commercial Dog Breeding Bill (HF738) received bipartisan support and passed initial legislative hurdles during the 2019 legislative session. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) proposed administrative rule changes during the interim to strengthen regulations for state licensed commercial establishments. The positive rule changes, implemented this year, included many provision that we have advocated for years and had included in our Commercial Dog Breeding Bill. We are encouraged by Sec. Naig’s leadership in this arena and willingness to strengthen standards. In order to truly address Iowa’s puppy mill problem, Iowa needs stronger standards of care as well as state oversight of all commercial dog breeding and dealing facilities, including federally licensed facilities. By setting an Iowa standard — applicable to all commercial establishments, we can solve Iowa’s puppy mill problem.

Redefining Rabbits As Livestock

Summary: SF85 seeks to move rabbits from under the protections afforded by 717B (Mistreatment of animals other than livestock) to 717 (Injury to livestock). Given that many rabbits are kept as pets, this is a step in the wrong direction. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) has an amendment in drafting that clearly distinguishes between rabbits that serve as pets and rabbits raised for food. We are working with ARL to make sure that pets are clearly delineated and set apart from current livestock requirements. We are working to make sure that the version that advances to the House addresses these concerns. We have shared our concerns with the Chair of Ag in the House, Rep. Ross Paustian, who has been receptive to our concerns.