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Indiana House proposal would mean stiffer penalties in animal cruelty cases

A sad looking puppy wanted to come out from his cage. Be kind to all animals.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana lawmakers have proposed a bill that would mean stiffer punishments in certain cases of animal cruelty.

House Bill 1604 is authored by Rep. Ryan Hatfield (D-Evansville) and co-authored by Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis).

The bill would increase the criminal offense for a person who deliberately harms an animal. It puts additional focus on cases involving search and rescue animals and service animals.

“It will increase the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony and from a level 6 felony to a level 5 felony,” Hatfield told WFIE.

Hatfield said Evansville has seen several very serious animal cruelty cases in the last year. He believes the public is frustrated because the punishments aren’t severe enough for those convicted in animal cruelty cases.

The bill requires the abuser to reimburse the owner of the animal for any veterinary bills incurred from the injury or pay them for their loss if the animal is killed.

The measure also allows courts to require people convicted of animal cruelty to get psychological, behavioral or other counseling as part of their punishment.

The bill had its first reading Monday and is being handled by the Committee on Courts and Criminal Code.