DES MOINES, Iowa — It's a moment that all animal lovers in Iowa have been looking forward to: the strengthening of the state's animal cruelty laws.
For years, animal advocates have pushed lawmakers to change these laws.
On Friday, the Iowa House unanimously passed House File 737, a bill strengthening the penalties if convicted of animal mistreatment.
It passed in the Senate on Saturday in a 44-4 vote.
The Community and Pet Protection Act clarifies the legal definition of animal neglect, abuse, and torture.
"For neglect, what it does is set minimum standards of care," said Colin Grace, Director of Legal and Strategic Initiatives at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.
"Now, that not just includes sufficient quantities of food and water, but sufficient quality of food and water. Plus, shelter and most importantly veterinary care."
The bill says if a juvenile or adult is caught seriously injuring or causes death to companion animal, they will undergo a mental health evaluation.
"For animal abuse, it removes the owner exemption language," Grace said. "Under the old law you couldn't technically abuse your own animal."
This new bill will clarify and strengthen the current Iowa cod for companion animals, not livestock.
Staff at the ARL believe these changes are the beginning of taking animal cruelty more seriously in Iowa.
"We'll start making sure they're appropriately charged and punished."
The bill awaits Gov. Kim Reynolds' signature.