Michigan is tightening its laws to protect animals. (Jason Nastaszewski / EyeEm via Getty Images)
Michigan is cracking down on animal abusers.
Two news laws are moving into action that will toughen up punishments for convicted abusers. The maximum penalty for killing or torturing an animal will increase from four years to 10 years in prison, The Detroit News first reported. This new rule goes into action this month.
Judges will also have the power to sentence those who harm or kill animals in order to cause emotional distress to another person to as much as 10 years.
The changes in Michigan legislation have been a long time coming. According to the Detroit News, Republican state Rep. Tommy Brann of Wyoming said he was inspired to sponsor the bills by a conversation he heard 25 years ago between two young women at a restaurant.
“They said the way to get even with someone is to kill their dog,” Brann said.
Michigan has traditionally been quite easy on animal abusers. An analysis by the Senate Fiscal Agency found that most abusers in the state typically avoided prison terms.
“In 2016, there were 40 violations under this offense category with zero offenders sent to prison and five sent to jail,” the agency said.
“The current laws are not sufficient enough to protect animals and hold offenders responsible for their conduct,” said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. “We have been working with legislators on changes to the law for seven years. During that time there have been many lawmakers that have been fighting this battle with us, and we are very grateful for their support. This is certainly a positive step forward.”
In 2016, Michigan passed a bill that allows shelters to conduct a criminal background check using the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) to determine whether someone has a criminal history of animal abuse before allowing adoption of an animal.