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Utah Lawmakers Hope "Dixie's Law" Will Better Protect Animals

Paws Up! To Salt Lake County Animal Services for helping to increase the severity of animal cruelty charges for violent offenders.

March 18, 2021

Dixie was a four-year-old red heeler who was kidnapped by her owner’s disgruntled and deranged ex-boyfriend on March 1st, 2021. He set the innocent animal on fire as an act of retaliation, and dropped off the dog along the interstate outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, to fend for herself. Although animal control and emergency veterinary services did all they could to save Dixie, she succumbed to her injuries a week later, when veterinary experts deemed she was in too much pain to continue on.

Since then, animal welfare activists, dog lovers, and lawmakers alike have rallied together and have taken a candid look at the animal cruelty laws in the Salt Lake State. Currently, those who are charged of animal-related felonies rarely see any jail time and may incur a fine of up to $5,000. The Salt Lake County Animal Services would like to propose a change in severity of the law so that perpetrators of violent animal crimes–like the man who set Dixie on fire–would definitely be put behind bars.

Dixie’s Law is in its beginning stages, and proponents of the bill hope to introduce the legislation in the 2022 Legislative Session.

Take Action: Combat Animal Cruelty in Your Community

  •  If you suspect an animal cruelty incident, get as much information as possible without putting yourself or others in danger and without breaking any laws. Note the time, date, witnesses, animals involved, and any license plate numbers or addresses involved. If possible, photograph evidence.
  • As soon as possible, contact your town or county’s animal control office any time you suspect animal cruelty. The animal control office can often be reached through your local sheriff’s department. In many cases, you can ask that a “welfare check” be conducted at an address without filing a formal complaint.
  • Do not report animal cruelty to social networking sites or charities that lack law enforcement capacity. If you witness animal neglect or cruelty, it is imperative that it be reported to law enforcement or 911.
  • Do not share or forward images of animal cruelty online. In many cases, this only grants animal abusers the notoriety they seek. Report offensive and violent imagery to website administrators.
  • Bring humane education programs to your areas schools and community events. Get information about free NHES programs and activity ideas here.
  • Write your local lawmakers to express your support of laws and ordinances that call for higher standard of care for animals. Stay on top of animal issues in the news at the NHES Paws Up/Paws Down blog.
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