MASON CITY — Sybil Soukup, head of the Humane Society of North Iowa, said she is disappointed a bill strengthening Iowa’s animal cruelty laws didn’t make it through the “funnel” this year.
The funnel is the term used to describe the process through which scores of proposed bills are narrowed down to ones that will be considered for legislation.
Soukup has been an advocate for stiffer penalties for offenders because of numerous cases of animal cruelty in North Iowa in the past two years.
When the bill was first being considered, Soukup talked about her concerns. “We’ve had four cases in the past two years, five in the past three years, where there have been plea bargains or other slaps on the wrist,” she said.
She cited recent North Iowa cases:
William Hill, 69, who was fined $100 for putting a cat in a duffel bag and throwing it in the Winnebago River in March 2015 in Mason City. The cat, later dubbed Winnie, was adopted by a Minnesota man.
George Harrington, 62, who was given 60-day jail sentence (all but two days suspended), one year probation, four hours community service and a suspended $625 fine after using a hammer in an attempt to kill his ailing dog in June 2015 in Mason City. The boxer mix, which police said had serious head injuries, was euthanized by a veterinarian. During his probation, court documents say Harrington is also prohibited from having a pet in his home or being an animal caregiver.
Dacota Witham, 26, who received a suspended one-year jail sentence, two years probation, 180 days at Beje Clark and a $315 fine for killing a dog in an inhumane manner in August 2014 in Mason City.
Other notable bills that failed to pass the funnel include:
Banning the sale or donation of fetal tissue from abortions for medical research or any other purposes.
Allowing terminally ill patients to try experimental treatments.
Eliminating the age restriction on when children can handle a handgun.
Requiring motorists to change lanes while passing cyclists.
Adding transgender individuals to the classifications protected under the state’s hate crimes law.
Giving the state some oversight authority over private boarding schools.