New bill features severe punishments, stiffer penalties for animal abusers

PHOENIX (FOX 10) - Animal abusers will now face stiffer penalties thanks to a bill that was signed by Governor Doug Ducey on Wednesday. Severe punishments are now in place for those who torture or physically abuse an animal.

Dr. Steve Hansen with Arizona Humane Society says his team responds to more than 7,400 investigations per year. Under the new law, animal abusers will be charged with a Class 5 felony. Animal advocates say House Bill 2671 is a real victory.

"It's a huge victory for the animals in Arizona," said Dr. Hansen. "It's a victory for the animal humane society. By raising the level of a felony conviction, it ensures now that the perpetrator will have supervised probation [and] will have access to services."

In the past, we've covered heinous acts of animal abuse. Stacey Hembree was charged with animal cruelty after Yavapai County Sheriff's Deputies say they found more than 50 dogs, cats, and guinea pigs insider her home living in awful conditions. Jacob Bushkin is accused of stabbing his Golden Retriever, a service dog, more than 100 times at his Scottsdale home. He faces several animal cruelty charges.

Then there's Pixie - a German Shepherd mix found wandering around a small town outside of northeast Arizona with a muzzle strapped down over her face. She was believed to be abused and malnourished.

"Justice is going to happen," said Dr. Hansen. "[And it's] now on record. [It's] not going to be reduced to a misdemeanor."

And remember Bear? The husky pup who was found in a dumpster in Phoenix with a traumatic brain injury and broken bones. He's been enjoying his adopted family for a year-and-a-half now. However, his mom, Lisa, still gets emotional thinking of the conditions he was found int.

"He gets tons of love from us, we're always petting him," she said. "Hugging him and kissing him and e play with him on a daily basis. These animals need a voice. They need good people and families to help them and protect them."

To report animal abuse, you can go to or call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.