MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WALA) - An animal cruelty bill that FOX10 News has been following is one step closer to becoming a law.
House Bill 27 passed the agriculture committee in the Alabama House Wednesday.
The bill ups the penalties for animal cruelty and expands the definition.
Mindy Gilbert is the Alabama Director of the Humane Society. She says it's an important piece of legislation. Currently, Alabama ranks 45th in the country when it comes to animal rights.
"Most mainstream households are very uncomfortable that animals suffer at our hands, and public interest is at an all time height about this. Its never been before, and its not going away. So, I'm very interested to see where we rank at the end of this session," said Gilbert.
House Bill 27 has caught the attention of many across the state. More than 4,000 people have signed FOX10 News's petition to get it into law.
Faust says the bill, created by a Baldwin County law student Linda Dooley, truly is a people's bill.
"I appreciate all the hard work everyone has put into this including channel 10 ya'll have been a blessing to us," said Faust.
The bill was tabled last week to address concerns of The Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA).
Faust accepted ALFA's amendments and says they do not weaken the bill. Instead, they improve it. The changes address animals used in research, on farms and in training.
"The amendments are strictly to protect people who handle animals everyday and have to do what's required," said Faust.
The amendments do not exclude specific animals, but instead normal practices used in farms, vet clinics and research labs.
"Many people thought it was next to impossible, but when you get an opportunity to work with people that may be your enemy and you have to transfer them over to be your friend, and that's part of this, and I feel like it was agreed and it made a lot of folks," said Faust.
The next step is to get the bill on the house floor. Chair of the Agriculture and Forestry Committee Representative Chad Fincher says he supports this bill and believes it has a good chance of ending up on the Governor's desk.
"I think there is a lot of support behind eliminating animal cruelty, so I think there is a good chance of passing the house and the senate and making it to the governors desk," said Fincher.
Faust hopes to have the bill on the House floor within two weeks. Senator Marc Keahey has signed on to carry the bill if it makes it to the Senate.
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