Update June 11, 2011: S.B. 223 has now been signed into law by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. The bill was approved by the Senate and the Assembly by overwhelming margins. The new law is called Cooney’s Law, after Cooney, a dog Raymond Rios adopted from a shelter and then tortured to death with a box cutter. He subsequently pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor animal cruelty charge, the most severe crime he could be charged with, paid the $640 fine and was released with jail time served.
Under Cooney’s Law Rios could have been charged with a felony.
The final version (1) authorizes a person to report an act of cruelty against an animal to any peace officer, officer of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals or animal control officer; (2) provides that the report is confidential; and (3) prohibits releasing any information concerning the report except for the purposes of a criminal investigation or prosecution.
The new law limits increases in penalties for animal cruelty to animals "kept for companionship or pleasure" or any cat or dog.
A person who willfully and maliciously tortures or unjustifiably maims, mutilates or kills one or more of these animals is guilty of a category D felony on the first offense, except that the person is guilty of a category C felony if the act of cruelty is committed against the animal in order to threaten, intimidate or terrorize another person.
The new law retains the prohibition on breeders from separating a puppy or kitten from the mother before 8 weeks of age or the animal stops nursing, whichever is later.
For a look at the bill as initially proposed, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.
Original report: Senate Bill 223 would increase penalties for wilful and malicious animal cruelty. Certain acts of animal cruelty that are done willfully and maliciously would be a Class D felony on the first offense if the animal did not die as a result and a Class C felony if the animal died because of the cruelty.
The acts that would trigger the increased penalty if done willfully and maliciously would include depriving an animal of necessary sustenance, illegal tethering, failing to provide an outdoor shelter of an appropriate size, abandoning an animal and other cruel treatment.
These offenses are currently misdemeanors on the first and second violations and a Class C felony on the third and subsequent offenses.
The bill would also make it a misdemeanor for a breeder to separate a puppy or kitten from the mother before 8 weeks of age or the animal stops nursing, whichever is later.