New Arizona Law Offers Something for All Animals

HorseUpdate: Gov. Jan Brewer has signed this bill into law. For more on S.B. 1115, read Animal Law Coalition’s original report.

Original report: What do dogs, horses, roosters and, really, all other animals, have in common? More protection under an Arizona bill that has been sent to Gov. Jan Brewer for signature.

The Arizona legislature has adjourned for the year and for the animals, there is Senate Bill 1115.

First, this bill bans the barbaric activity known as "horse tripping". The legislature considered a similar measure last year, but failed to pass it.

This bill would protect horses, ponies, mules, donkeys and hinnies. It would be illegal under this bill to "knowingly or intentionally trip[] an equine for entertainment or sport". "Trip" means "knowingly or intentionally causing an equine to lose its balance or fall by use of a wire, pole, stick or rope or any other object or by any other means."

Horse tripping is typically done during Mexican rodeos called charreadas, and involves two cowboys on horseback chasing a horse and causing the animal to flee. When the horse has reached full speed, a third horseman lassoes one of the horse’s front legs, then stops and pulls back on the rope, causing the horse to trip forward and smash full-force into the ground.

Tripped horses typically suffer serious injuries, from broken bones to spinal damage, sometimes dying as a result. Those who survive are usually so psychologically traumatized that they cannot even look at a rope without becoming terrified.

California, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska have banned horse tripping. The practice remains legal in Arizona because in that state, horse tripping is defined as a rodeo event, meaning it is exempt from animal cruelty statutes.

Under S.B. 1115, jail time would be mandatory even on a first offense. A first time offender would face 48 hours in jail and a $1000 fine. A second offense would mean 30 days in jail and   a $2000 fine.  All subsequent violations would mean 90 days in jail and a $2000 fine.

The bill "does not apply to any jumping or steeplechase events, racing, training, branding, show events, calf or steer roping events, bulldogging or steer wrestling events or any other traditional western rodeo events, including barrel racing, bareback or saddled bronc riding or other similar activities or events".

Phoenix Councilwoman Thelda Williams is credited with pushing for this legislation. Arizona state Sen. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, sponsored the legislation.

The bill would also establish "a registry of equine rescue facilities", a list of which would be available to the public.  To qualify each year for registration, an equine  rescue facility must be incorporated as a nonprofit corporation and in good standing, meet minimum standards prescribed by the state, and provide a current certification  from a licensed veterinarian that the facility meets the minimum standards prescribed by the Department. To maintain their registration, facilities must keep all documents to be filed on their websites.  

puppy millFor dogs, S.B. 1115 would require all kennels with 20 or more dogs to submit to inspections. Those kennels with fewer than 20 dogs may be subject to inspection if there has been a complaint of dog fighting or animal cruelty. Kennels with dogs used or trained for hunting would be exempt.

A kennel means an enclosed, controlled area, inaccessible to other animals, in which the person keeps, harbors or maintains five or more dogs under controlled conditions (A.R.S. § 11-1001).  Each county in Arizona determines license fees, provides tags, maintains records, including vaccinations, establishes pounds and issues kennel permits (A.R.S. § 11-1008).

This means commercial as well as hobby dog breeders and those who keep dogs for racing or sledding would be subject to inspection. Arizona state Rep. Nancy Young Wright (D-Tuscon) sponsored this provision.  

Finally, S.B. 1115 makes all animal fighting a Class 5 felony. This includes "[o]wning, possessing, keeping or training" any animals for fighting or allowing premises the person controls to be used for fighting or keeping or training cocks. The standard for liability is whether the person knows or has reason to know of these activities.

A spectator at any animal fight or even someone present while preparations for a fight are taking place, could now be charged with a Class 6 felony if this bill becomes law. Currently, spectators or persons present for cock fights are only subject to misdemeanor charges.

cock fightThis bill would also protect animals used as bait to train or warm up dogs used for fighting.


Contact Gov. Jan Brewer and urge her to sign this legislation to stop cruelty to horses, dogs, really all animals.