SALT LAKE CITY -- A committee has approved an animal-cruelty bill that would allow the humane killing of an animal that threatens a person, property or livestock.
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved, by a 10-2 vote, House Bill 210, sponsored by Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield.
The bill now goes before the House floor for further consideration.
The bill, which originally allowed the killing of a feral animal, underwent several amendments.
The word "feral" was removed, as well as several other lines, which also included "humane shooting or killing of an animal if the person doing the shooting or killing has a reasonable belief that the animal is a feral animal."
"I'm very, very disappointed that lines 150 through 151 were removed," Oda said after the standing room-only meeting that lasted more than two hours. "It allows (that) a person who shoots a feral animal can still be charged."
Oda said he is pleased that committee members left in his bill that people can kill an animal if they believe they or their livestock are being threatened.
Oda said at the beginning of the meeting that his bill, which has received national attention, has been misrepresented since it came out in January.
"There are a lot of lies out there," he said. "This is not about cats. This about all animals -- dogs, cats, pigeons, pigs."
Oda had received death threats over the bill, and the FBI is investigating.
Gene Baierschmidt, executive director with the Utah Humane Society, spoke against the bill. He handed out packets with photographs of animals that had been tortured, which he said he received from a group in Box Elder County.
He asked committee members to look at the photos after the meeting because they were not ones he wanted to have shown in a public meeting.
Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield, committee chairman, then asked Baierschmidt to take back the packets if they cannot be shown in a public meeting.
"There are depraved people out there who like to kill animals," Baierschmidt said. "This bill just gives open season on dogs and cats."
Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, said he saw the photographs before McIff asked for them to be returned.
"This strategy is trashy, and any credibility you had with me is gone," Ray told McIff.
April Harris, with Salt Lake County Animal Services, said Salt Lake County officials have not taken a stand on the bill, but Salt Lake County Animal Services is against the bill. "Most feral cats we capture relax in a few days, and we realize they are scared house pets and not truly feral."
Harris said Salt Lake County Animal Services traps, neuters or spays, then releases the cats back where they were trapped.
The group has found this to be the most cost-effective way to deal with cat colonies, because after a few years, the cat colonies cease to exist.
Mike Vilos, with the Utah Criminal Defense Lawyers, spoke in favor of Oda's bill.
People in rural areas have protected livestock for decades by killing feral cats, feral dogs and pigeons.