Federal law could soon stiffen penalties for Utah animal abusers

Local News

WASHINGTON (ABC4 News) – Lawmakers in Washington don’t agree on much these days, but they’re reaching across the aisle to pass legislation that would make animal torture and abuse a federal crime nationally. 

In Utah, animal abuse and torture is usually treated as a misdemeanor without aggravating circumstances. 

Recently, a woman named Alison Borg was charged by state prosecutors with a felony after she allegedly snapped her cat’s neck in front of her children. Her lawyer contended she suffered from depression and was not in her right mind. 

Still, Utah animal lovers praised the legislation, called the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act.  Democrat Ted Deutch and Republican Vern Buchanan introduced the bill in a bipartisan effort to stiffen penalties for animal abusers. The law would penalize “crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals,” as well as create harsher punishments for bestiality. 

Utah animal activists have long claimed current state animal abuse laws are not prosecuted to their full extent. 

Amy Byrd of North Salt Lake, whose dog Buddy was abused and neglected for years, said it’s been a journey to get him to trust again. She said she’s happy the federal government is working to address the law. 

“You’re still dealing with a life, you’re still dealing with something that’s got emotions,” Byrd said. “These are members of our family that depend on us. It should be a felony almost like another human.”

The PACT Act would not negate existing state law, according to the legislation’s description. 

” The PACT Act would not preempt or interfere with local animal cruelty laws or enforcement. The bill would be a federal overlay, exactly like the federal animal fighting law. “

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...