Senator's sponsored bill would toughen animal cruelty laws

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A bill in the Alabama State Senate aims to crackdown on animal cruelty cases. Senate Bill 246 is sponsored by Cullman Senator Zeb Little.

It would add an additional component to existing animal cruelty laws, and would specifically apply to animals that are seized as a part of a criminal investigation.

When these animals are seized, many times the local humane society or animal control takes care of them for an extended period of time, and that can get expensive.

The bill would order the animal's owner to pay those costs. It would also allow a judge to prevent the animals from being returned to the owner if they are convicted on animal cruelty charges.

President of Birmingham Jefferson County Animal Control Steve Smith said holding and caring for animals for an extended period of time can take a toll on their resources, that's why he supports the bill. He said if passed, the bill could make things much easier on them.

"I think any law that puts more responsibility on the owner, be it financial or anything else, is going to be a tremendous asset, and help to agencies like us that provide this care," said Smith.

Mindy Gilbert, the Alabama State Director of the United States Humane Society said animal cruelty cases can especially take a toll on shelters in smaller counties or rural areas that have limited resources. She said this bill is needed.

"For shelters not to have to be financially crippled by stepping up and doing the right thing to assist law enforcement, this is a tool to put in that tool box to help defray the costs," said Gilbert.

Next the bill will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee.