HB 2072, which is being sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, would make it illegal to give away any live animal as a prize in Arizona and would also criminalize using animals as an inducement to attract customers into a business. The penalty for violation would be up to 30 days in county jail and a fine of up to $500.
He is also sponsoring HB 2073 to prohibit anyone convicted of animal abuse from having a pet for at least two years afterwards—and no one else in the same household could keep or own a pet during that period either.
Under HB 2073, if enacted as written, anyone who is convicted of a knowing or intentional act animal cruelty would be barred from adopting, fostering, owning or otherwise caring for an animal in the household.
The measure, though, would allow someone to ask the sentencing judge to reinstate his or her rights to own an animal after two years.
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CLOSING LEGAL LOOPHOLES
Kavanagh said these issues came to his attention through his wife, Linda, who is Mayor of Fountain Hills, got calls about children coming home with live “prizes” in the form of rabbits and turtles and fish from a traveling carnival that was in the area, reports the East Valley Tribune.
Current law prohibits giving away live animals as prizes in games of chance, but it does not include games of “skill,” which entice children to throw a baseball into a bucket or try their ring-tossing skills.
"At what level of life do you want to tolerate suffering and premature death for no real, true purpose?'' asked. Rep. John Kavanagh.
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EVEN A GOLDFISH IS A RESPONSIBILITY
Owning a pet is a major responsibility and requires preparation and planning--even when it is a small animal. Kavanagh says, "When your child comes home at 10 o'clock at night with a rabbit, this is something which is not going to end well, for the most part.''
Although an argument could be made that a goldfish only requires a bowl and even many goldfish bought as pets don’t live long, he's not willing to separate the value of life or the degree of suffering that could be imposed on a helpless creature.
"This type of unplanned, often unsolicited transfer of living entities--to doom them to certain death or release in the desert--just seems cruel and unnecessary,'' Kavanagh said.
STOPPING PET ABUSE & BEING FAIR TO ANIMALS
In regard to HB 2073, anyone who is convicted of a knowing or intentional act animal cruelty would be barred from adopting, fostering, owning or otherwise caring for an animal in the household. Anyone who still had an animal within 90 days of a court order could be sentenced to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
The measure contains a provision that would allow someone to petition the sentencing judge to reinstate his or her rights to own an animal after two years.
Kavanagh agreed that HB 2073, as crafted, would mean that an act of cruelty by one family member—even if the abuser is a child--would mean no one in the household could have a pet, even if they were ignorant of the problem.
"If you have a child that's abusing pets, it's going to be no comfort to the abused animal that the other four family members didn't know about it,'' he said.
Kavanagh says current law is just not fair to animals, "Individuals who are convicted of animal cruelty can turn around and own animals again very shortly,'' he said.
"You certainly wouldn't let a child molester adopt a child,'' he said.