Governor Rick Scott Signs Stricter Animal Cruelty Bill ‘Ponce’s Law’

By on March 27, 2018 in WNDB News

Tallahassee, FL – Governor Rick Scott has signed Ponce’s Law (SB 1576), legislation which will increase the punishment for animal cruelty in the wake of a brutal beating of Ponce Inlet puppy, into law.

Last year, a nine-month-old puppy named Ponce was beaten to death in Ponce Inlet.  Following the attack, representatives Tom Leek (R-Ormond Beach), Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford), and companion sponsor Senator Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) introduced two bills seeking to increase punishment for animal cruelty and allow judges to issue convicted abusers no-contact orders with animals. Both bills were later passed unanimously. The final bill Scott signed also requires animal shelters to give reasonable notice for lost pets.

“What happened in Ponce Inlet was tragic, but Ponce’s law is a just and substantive victory for animal welfare in the state of Florida,” said Leek.

“Today the Florida Legislature sent a great bill to the Governor’s desk,” said Steube. “I am thrilled we were able to pass legislation that will protect our pets from animal abusers and ensure shelters take reasonable efforts to return stray pets to their owners.”

Current Florida state law classifies animal cruelty as a 3rd-degree felony and a Level 3 offense. The act of possessing a junkyard car without a VIN number and the sale of used goods as new are offenses of the same level. Ponce’s Law will increase animal cruelty from a Level 3 offense to a Level 5 offense.

In a news release from the Florida House of Representatives regarding the signing of the bill, research conducted by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was mentioned. According to the research, animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent offenses against humans than those who have not abused animals. Research from Johns Hopkins University shows that anywhere from 71% to 83% of women going into domestic violence shelters has abusive partners that also abused or killed pets.

“This bill will give prosecutors the leverage they need to address animal cruelty in the courtroom,” said Brodeur. “I am proud to co-sponsor this bill and to stand up animals across the state of Florida.”

“Together, we are sending a message that Florida is serious about animal cruelty,” said Leek. “I am proud of the job we have done, and to have worked with the passionate sponsors and co-sponsors of this bill.”

Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.

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