Arizona State Senator Stepping Up for Animals

T.J. Shope

While we live in deeply divided times politically, regardless of which side of the aisle you align with nearly all of us can agree that animals deserve a certain standard of treatment. And one Arizona legislator is stepping up to the plate and helping ensure that Arizona is not a safe space for animal abusers.

Moderate Republican state senator T.J. Shope recently introduced a bill in conjunction with the Arizona Humane Society that would help close loopholes and better define animal abuse in the hopes that fewer potential cases slip between the cracks. This is in response to the recent Chandler “House of Horrors” case, where a stunning 55 dogs were seized from a Chandler resident after they were found to be medically imperiled and in serious neglect.

Of course, Arizona already has an animal abuse law on the books; A.R.S. 13-2910 currently makes animal abuse illegal.  However, a lack of proper definition as to what constitutes abuse was enough to prevent a search warrant from being issued in this particular case according to local officials. Shope’s Senate Bill 1047 aims to close this loophole by better defining the appropriateness and healthiness of food, water, and shelter.

Unfortunately the issue of animal cruelty is an extremely pervasive one in America. While some cases manage to garner national attention, such as the case of former NFL quarterback Michael Vick two decades ago, millions fly under the radar. In total, around 10 million animals die as a result of abuse or neglect every year in the United States.

Obviously, this is not simply an issue that other state’s need to deal with. The Arizona Humane Society states that they saw a 21% increase in animal abuse calls year over year. Much of this could potentially be seen as another tragedy of the pandemic and our collective attempts to cope with the solitude and mental distress that it caused. As we collectively endured business closures and social distancing, many people attempted to cope by bringing animals into their homes for the first time; a charming and wholesome gesture at first, except that so many people didn’t understand the obligation that they were taking on. That caused a collective spike in abandoned animals, and for those that weren’t dropped off at shelters, many others were simply neglected.

This legislative session will almost certainly be a brutal and deeply partisan one, with Republicans in the legislature and Governor Hobbs constantly at odds with each other and our state staring down a gigantic budget deficit. That said, regardless of our differences it is our hope that enmity can be put aside in order to protect the most vulnerable amongst us, in this case our furry friends. We hope this bill sails through the legislature and is signed into law.