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Mommsen, Wolfe lead in strengthening animal welfare laws

Iowa State Reps. Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt, and Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, have been named among Iowa Pet Alliance’s Legislators of the Year for their leadership and support of legislation to protect the pets of Iowa.

Reps. Mommsen and Wolfe both supported the Community and Pet Protection Act (HF737), a bill to strengthen Iowa’s animal cruelty laws, as well as ensured current companion animal welfare protections remain in place by opposing or helping to positively amend dangerous legislation that would have rolled back current protections.

HF737 received bipartisan support, passing the House unanimously and the Senate by a 44-4 vote. The bill, which was signed by Governor Reynolds and went into effect July 1, 2020, increases criminal penalties for animal abuse and neglect; removes ambiguous language that previously allowed a person to beat a pet to death and receive no criminal penalty, as happened in Iowa v. Meerdink; removes the owner exemption that previously barred a pet owner from being charged with animal abuse for abusing their own pet; clarifies requirements for food, water, and shelter; adds requirements for sanitary conditions, grooming, and veterinary care; and requires mental health evaluations for juveniles and those charged with offenses punishable as an aggravated misdemeanor or felony under Iowa Code Chapter 717B Injury to Animals Other Than Livestock.

As studies have shown a direct link between animal abuse and other crimes – including child abuse, domestic abuse, and elder abuse – legislation like HF737 protects Iowans as much as it does our pets.

Please join us in thanking and recognizing Reps. Mommsen and Wolfe. Iowa’s animal cruelty laws would not have been improved this year without them and their colleagues taking positive action at the Iowa Statehouse.

See the other legislators honored by the Iowa Pet Alliance at iowapetalliance.org.

Haley Anderson, Executive Director, Iowa Pet Alliance