As you've read on this website before, Iowa has had a puppy mill problem for quite a while. Thanks to Cindy Axne, who represents the third district in Iowa, legislation has been introduced to combat the problem.

Though this is clearly a step in the right direction, the Hawkeye State still struggles in its protection of domesticated creatures, at least as our state's laws currently protect them. This is especially true for farm animals (which should serve as a shock, considering farming is so important to the Iowa economy).

The Animal Legal Defense Fund recently released their 2021 U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report, which "assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the laws in each state and territory," according to WQAD8 in the Quad Cities.

The defense fund says "the annual rankings are based on a comprehensive review of each jurisdiction’s laws. The goal of the report was to identify weak points in states' animal protection policies and highlight strong models that could be followed to address those weaknesses."

Though Iowa isn't among the worst five in the country (1. New Mexico, 2. Idaho, 3. Mississippi, 4. Alabama, 5. Utah) it does rank ninth-worst nationally and is in what they deem to be the 'bottom tier.' The report from the ALDF makes the following claims as to why Iowa ranks among the worst:

  • It has an 'ag-gag law', which the site defines as a law that seeks "to 'gag' would-be whistleblowers and undercover activists by punishing them for recording footage of what goes on in animal agriculture."
  • There are no felony provisions for first-time cruelty to animals except in cases of fighting
  • Social services providers aren't required to report suspected animal abuse
  • There is a limited definition of 'animal'

Though there are the aforementioned negatives, the article from WQAD8 says that in 2020 the "Iowa House and Senate passed the Community and Pet Protection Act, which boosted animal protections across the state. Among the changes, the act increased penalties for animal abuse and neglect, removed the owner exemption for pet abuse, corrects language that allows punishment of those who torture a pet, clarifies the standard of care for pets, and requires mental health evaluations in many cases of animal cruelty, according to the Iowa Pet Alliance."

Iowa also mandates psychological evaluations following felony convictions for animal cruelty.

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