LETTER: Until You Walk Our Walk

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Can you fully understand the dangerous implications fo HF 737 – the animal maltreatment bill.

Even though the senate amendment to HF 737,  of an aggravated misdemeanor instead of a felony for a first offense of animal torture is a slight improvement,  this bill is still a long way off from what is reasonable.  The House will now reconsider this bill.   If you are an animal owner, your ears better be wide open as to how YOU WILL be vulnerable under this bill to be labeled and animal abuse and criminal.   Nope.  Sorry, no chance to correct the issue.   Nope.  Sorry. Accidents are no excuse.

And no, none of us condone animal abuse, but I also do not condone human abuse because someone doesn’t like the way animals may be kept, resulting in false accusations, harassment,  investigations, and many times seizure based on trumped-up charges.   Iowa has had some cases.  Nationally, they are becoming quite commonplace.  Many times they are a result of a jealous competitor, vengeful neighbor or ex, nosey Nellie that doesn’t like the way you keep your animals, rehomers looking for stock to help keep their doors open (yes, really).

As someone that has been ‘in the trenches’ not only in Iowa, but also in other cases in the nation, naturally my viewpoint will be much different from those that have never dealt with someone that went through some of these horrifying, life-altering incidences.

Until you have walked our walk, one cannot possibly know and understand watching false accusations of animal abuse destroy livelihoods, rendered people homeless after having lost everything in defending themselves against staged and trumped-up charges, children sobbing uncontrollably as their animals were forcibly taken, forced to watch multiple sheriff’s cars pour into the yard and sheriff’s deputies forcibly detain their parents while strangers loaded up their animals. Many times those animals struggling against strangers, some calling out in fright.    Two people in MO committed suicide.

Those are the stories you have not been told.

Until you have walked our walk

It is not possible to fully grasp that the extremely broad-brushed definition of injury and serious injury, pgs. 2 & 3, will now make those false accusations so much easier.  Do you know how the bill really reads?  Paraphrased.  Any disfigurement or impairment to health, limb, organ, or physical damage/harm to muscle tissue, organ, bone, hide, skin.   Serious injury is protracted or permanent disfigurement or impairment to the function of health, limb, organ or loss of limb or organ.  Referencing Sen. Hogg, Mar. 10, “…when writing legislation it matters what it says.”    Sen Bisignano, speaking on a different bill.   “… not one senator said this bill is based on facts.”     “…facts aren’t going to lie….”

Where are the facts showing the alleged increase in abuse cases?  Where are the facts showing increased penalties deter crime?  Why has not a single legislator, in either chamber, asked the proponents of this bill for those numbers?

I have them.  Have put them in legislators’ hands.  Researched and resourced.  Ignored.  Sad.

Now put that in the context of Delicate Fido jumping off the couch and breaking a leg (even scarier with the vet immunity, HF 2374); Fluffy escapes, gets crunched by a car, survives with a permanent limp; Joe out training his hunting dog, runs through dense underbrush scratches muzzle and an eye; Mary running her show dog on an agility course and it sprains an ankle.  ALL, even though accidents, could potentially be termed abuse and the owner now labeled a criminal.

Yes, THAT is how the definition of injury, serious injury is written.  There is no provision for accidents.  Reckless means thoughtless, careless, negligent.  If it is truly supposed to be about intentional abuse, should not there be language acknowledging that the unpredictable sometimes happens?  Some animals are klutzes just like people.

This bill’s supporters say –

* Incidences of animal abuse are on the rise and becoming more frequent.  FALSE.  There were approximately 4,085,000 household pets in Iowa in 2018.  In that same year, there were 105 prosecutions of animal abuse.  In 2019, up to

November, there were only 91 prosecuted cases.  Hmmm, numbers don’t appear to validate that claim, do they?

* Increased penalties will deter animal abuse

FALSE.   There are over 25 independent studies done in the U.S., England, and Sweden interviewing criminals. Every single criminal interviewed said the penalties did not scare them.

* Animal abuse leads to child abuse and other violent crimes.

HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE.   There are also studies debunking this claim.  Most of the studies referenced have been done by, or were funded in part or whole by HSUS, ASPCA, RSPCA, Best Friends and other ideologies that work politically to reduce and eventually remove animal use and ownership.   HSUS – Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA – America Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, RSPCA Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

* Mandatory prison sentences will increase an already overburdened prison system.  Not to mention the increased cost to the state of Iowa.

Did you know that HSUS-Iowa was soliciting (literally bribing) people to write their legislators to vote ‘yes’ on HF 737, provide the proof, and then receive a discount at one of four businesses?  Ethical?  It has been wiped from the internet.  Why?

Until you have walked our walk

  • I pray none of you ever have to hold someone’s hand as they deal with the loss of everything they have ever worked for, their homes, heirlooms, trying to comfort them, wipe their tears, listen to their wracking sobs behind closed doors so they can be strong for their spouse or children, as they try to fight false accusations.  Having a judge disregard your Constitutional rights in court, sat in a courtroom and listened to the outright lies of the ASPCA and a state vet in cahoots because there was a financial gain for them.  Be the victim of slanderous and libelous statements blasted across social media with lawyers refusing to take your rightful case.  Be the target of death threats simply because you are a licensed commercial breeder.  Fearing for the safety of your animals under threat of theft in the middle of the night.  Straining to see if there is a strange vehicle or checking to see if things are OK after running an errand.  Feeding your critters before you eat.  Ensuring they have better, more comfortable housing and access to good food and clean water every day, more than many humans, even in our own towns.  Having to carry a side arm due to strangers driving into your yard directly to your kennel.  Or seeking the right words of comfort for families that have lost loved ones to murder or suicide.

Until you have walked our walk, you have no idea why this bill, when coupled with the vet immunity bill, HF 2374, it becomes an issue that strikes terror in many breeders.  Knowing full well how easy it would be to now declare animal abuse, use social media to whip people into a frenzy, make ‘suggestions’ to law enforcement, lawyers, and judges.

Current laws do work.  Laws won’t reduce actual animal abuse, but they will make it much more difficult for the ethical people to use and enjoy the rights of their property by having animals in their lives.   And that those kinds of laws are the goal of the ideology behind this and similar bills.

I hope this gives a bit better understanding from those of us that have walked and still walk the walk, why we adamantly OPPOSE  HF 737.  Public this WILL also apply to you.  Never dismiss with those famous last words, “Can’t happen to me.”

It is also noted that some legislators claim to intensely dislike a certain ideology, yet have voted consistently in favor of these types of bills.  Gives pause as to what should be believed.  Words?  Actions?  Or, is something else in play?

Could two words be the key, as in the past?  Election year.

  • Betsy Fickel
    Garner