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N.H. Increases Penalties For Animal Cruelty Convictions

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Todd Bookman/NHPR
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Puppies were everywhere, including in the arms of Gov. Chris Sununu, during a bill signing ceremony on Tuesday at the Humane Society of Greater Nashua.

Sununu, a cat owner, signed House Bill 459 into law. The bipartisan measure strengthens the penalties for people found guilty of felony animal cruelty, including a mandatory five-year ban on animal ownership.

“Whether it’s abused animals, or animals that need foster care, that the state and the system can be there to make sure that both the individuals that are caring for these animals, and the organizations that are caring for these animals, have what they need,” said Sununu. “And again, that there is a process to make sure that these animals truly are cared for.”

The bill was supported by the state’s network of rescue facilities and the Humane Society of the United States.

“We believe that is going to go a long way towards protecting victims,” said Lindsay Hamrick, a policy director at HSUS.

The legislation comes after a series of high-profile animal cruelty cases have hit New Hampshire, including the seizure of 75 Great Danes in Wolfeboro and 21 Chihuahuas in Croydon. 

Lawmakers continue to debate a provision that would tighten the definition of a commercial breeder, which would trigger more regulation of some facilities. Many so-called hobby breeders oppose the measure, which is currently in the stalled budget, citing concerns that new rules would do little to prevent abuse.

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