The Utah Legislature Takes a Stand Against Animal Suffering

Senator Scott McCoy

by Senator Scott McCoy
Senate District Two

The other day I was combing through the Utah Code (yes, I am a crazy lawyer legislator who actually reads the Code) and found a provision that struck me as a bit ironic, especially in light of the vigorous debate over Henry’s Law, the bill to make animal cruelty a third degree felony. Here is what I found:

76-6-413. Release of fur-bearing animals — Penalty — Finding.

(1) In any case not amounting to a felony of the second degree, any person who intentionally and without permission of the owner releases any fur-bearing animal raised for commercial purposes is guilty of a felony of the third degree.
(2) The Legislature finds that the release of fur-bearing animals raised for commercial purposes subjects the animals to unnecessary suffering through deprivation of food and shelter and compromises their genetic integrity, thereby permanently depriving the owner of substantial value.

What struck me as particularly interesting was the second sentence wherein the Utah Legislature expresses its worry about subjecting animals, i.e., the kind that produce nice fur coats to keep them warm during the cold days of the legislative session, from “unnecessary suffering through deprivation of food and shelter”by being released from captivity.

Interesting that the Legislature will jump to the defense of commercially valuable fur-bearing animals and make it a third degree felony if some callous person releases them from posh captivity (where I am sure they experience no suffering at all) into the cold, cruel world where they may experience “unnecessary suffering through deprivation of food and shelter,” but won’t make it a third degree felony when some idiot puts Henry in the oven, causing him “unnecessary suffering” through other means.

Well at least this provision is an admission that animals, in fact, can suffer and that we should punish people who cause such suffering at the level of a felony.

Governor, a Special Session, please.

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