BOISE -- Legislation that toughens Idaho's animal abuse laws by making it a felony for anyone convicted twice of torturing a domestic pet has cleared a hurdle in the House.
The bill would apply to torture of cats, dogs and other domestic critters, but exempts Idaho's livestock industry.
Lawmakers voted 54-14 Monday to approve the measure sponsored by Lava Hot Springs Republican Rep. Ken Andrus.
Andrus argues animal abusers sometimes go on to hurt people, so tougher animal abuse penalties could be an effective deterrent. He said the bill could also help head off ballot initiative efforts by animal rights activists seeking even tougher laws in Idaho.
Challis Republican Rep. Lenore Barrett voted against, arguing that toughening the penalty again this year opens the door for enacting even harsher consequences next year.