(KFYI News) – Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio joined a news conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday criticizing a bill in the legislature that would lessen the penalties in animal cruelty cases involving livestock.
Arpaio spoke along with Democratic lawmakers and representatives from PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – to say the bill is wrong. It's being pushed by organizations representing farmers, ranchers, and slaughterhouses, who say behavior that might appear to some people to be abuse is actually accepted practice.
Among other things, the measure would make animal abuse against livestock a misdemeanor instead of a felony, as all animal abuse cases are currently classified. It would also give the state Department of Agriculture sole authority to prosecute such cases. And, it would require any video or photographic evidence of animal abuse to be turned over to Dept. of Ag. investigators within five days.
Arpaio, whose department actively pursues animal abuse cases and arrests accused animal abusers, says he won't give up authority to investigate animal abuse. Also, he said, five days isn't enough time to build a case against suspected animal abusers.
"I'm very tough on animal cruelty," Arpaio said. "I have six officers and detectives assigned just for that issue. I think the Agriculture Department, in the whole state, they only have ten. Why would they take away resources on enforcement of that?"
Arpaio pledged not to let the law, if passed, stand in his way. "Somebody has to protect the animals. Whether it's dogs, cats, horses, or cows, you shouldn't torture animals."