SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah House voted today to make animal cruelty a felony.
The bill was heavily amended by the House and in a natural resources committee. It had the support of most ranchers and farmers.
The bill makes a raft of exceptions for rodeo animals, livestock, hunting dogs, falcons, and zoo animals.
With that, it won House support in a 56-to-15 vote today.
The bill doesn't automatically elevate animal cruelty from a misdemeanor. But it allows prosecutors and juries to impose the stiffer penalty of a third-degree felony for the worst cases of abuse.
The bill will now go to the Senate.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)