The Michigan House of Representatives approved legislation to improve protections for companion and family pets.
Under House Bill 4332, it would be a crime to knowingly torture or kill an animal with the intent to cause mental distress or exert control over a person.
The legislation would create first, second and third-degree offenses depending on severity, while partnering with Bill 4333 to update sentencing guidelines of up to 10 years imprisonment.
Under the bill, neglect or cruelty against an animal would mean 93 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. If two or three animals are involved, abusers could be behind bars for a year and face a $2,000 fine.
“Pets are a crucial part of many Michigan families, often like children and close friends,” said Brann, of Wyoming. “Anyone willing to injure or torture a family pet with the goal of manipulating someone is probably not going to stop there. It could be a child or a parent next."
"Besides seeking protection of our family pets, we’re also going to stop this sadistic behavior before it becomes even worse.”
Brann's legislation is supported by the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and Michigan Coalition to end Domestic and Sexual Violence.
"Animal abuse continues to be a growing problem in Michigan and we absolutely need to address it," Brann said. "I anticipate that it will be a solution to help address this awful behavior. It will close a loophole in the law and prevent even more damage being inflicted on a family or loved one."
The Michigan Humane Society is pushing for the legislation.
"We would give a voice to the voiceless," said Shaun Bailey, a spokesperson for the organization. "Up until now, animals had been treated as property and this bill is really a step in the right direction."