Target: Arizona State Representative Brenda Barton
Goal: Keep the investigation of farm animal cruelty a responsibility of the police
A new bill introduced in the Arizona Legislature would move investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty accusations on farms away from the Arizona Police Department and into the Arizona Department of Agriculture. In addition, any evidence of the cruelty must be given to the Department of Agriculture within 5 days of being obtained, a nearly impossible timeline to comply with. Tell the Arizona State Legislature that cruelty to farm animals is a criminal offense and should be handled by the police department, just like all other types of animal cruelty.
Under the new law, only the Director, or a designee assigned by the Director, of the Department of Agriculture has the authority to investigate animal cruelty allegations on farms in Arizona. In addition, no local county, city, or town in Arizona is allowed to pass any laws or ordinances that would be stricter than the state law. This effectively moves cruelty to farm animals out of the criminal justice system and into the political arena. The Department of Agriculture does not have the investigators to handle the cases and is likely to ignore farm animal cruelty when it is politically expedient.
Cruelty to farm animals, like to all other kinds of animals, is a criminal offense and should be handled by the Arizona Police Department and the criminal justice system, not by politicians. Tell Representative Brenda Barton, the bill’s sponsor, that animal cruelty investigations belong in the hands of the police department.
Dear Mrs. Barton,
Cruelty to farm animals is a criminal offense and, just like allegations of cruelty to any other animal, should be handled by the Arizona police department and the criminal justice system. Yet a new bill (HB 2587) would move all investigation of cruelty to farm animals away from the police department and into the Department of Agriculture, a branch that has neither the necessary staff nor experience to handle a criminal investigation.
The Department of Agriculture’s mission is “To regulate and support Arizona agriculture in a manner that encourages farming, ranching, and agribusiness while protecting consumers and natural resources”. Their mission does not include law enforcement and doesn’t even mention protecting animals from cruelty. In fact, enforcing animal cruelty law could run contrary to their mission to encourage farming, ranching and agribusiness.
In addition, the bill requires that all evidence of cruelty and abuse be submitted to the Department of Agriculture within 5 days of being obtained. This is an arbitrarily short timeline that seems designed only to make reporting animal abuse harder.
Mrs. Barton, the investigation and prosecution of farm animal cruelty cases belongs within the criminal justice system, not at the whim of a political organization without the means, mission, or desire to protect animals. I demand all language that changes investigation practices of farm animal cruelty and the evidence requirements be removed from this bill.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Animals Abandoned and Abused via Flickr