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Florida lawmakers look to increase penalties for animal cruelty

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida lawmakers are looking to enact stricter penalties for people who abuse animals.

On Tuesday The House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee met to consider a bill that would change the state’s animal cruelty laws.

HB 121 would create two new criminal offenses under current Florida animal cruelty statutes.

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Under the bill, anyone who “unlawfully kills any animal that is in the care, possession, or control of a family or household member” will be charged with a third degree felony.

The bill would also make it a felony for someone to “intentionally and knowingly, without lawful cause or justification, cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or death to any animal” during a domestic violence crime.

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Under the proposed changes, anyone convicted would be required to complete psychological counseling or anger management as well as pay a minimum $2,500 fine for a first conviction.

Anyone convicted a second time faces a minimum of six months in jail, a minimum $5000 fine and is not allowed to own any animal for any length of time determined by the court.

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If passed, the bill would take effect October 1, 2022.

A copy of HB 121 can be found here.

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Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.

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