A bill to increase the penalties for cruelty to animals in Wyoming was resoundingly defeated in a Wyoming Senate vote on Tuesday afternoon.

Senate File 33, sponsored by Senator Mike Gierau (D-Jackson), would have increased the fines for animal cruelty while leaving the current potential prison sentences in place

A misdemeanor conviction for animal cruelty under Wyoming Law currently carries a penalty of $750 and/or up to a year in prison. Aggravated animal cruelty, which is a felony under Wyoming law, carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 or two years in prison. The bill would not have changed the jail time, but as originally written would have increased the fines to a maximum of $2,500 for a misdemeanor and $10,000 for a felony.

But the bill was amended to increase the misdemeanor fine to $1,500 and  the felony fine to $7,500. In floor debate on the bill, some senators questioned the fine schedule and whether it made sense.

Sen. Brian Boner (R-Converse/Platte counties) said in his experience most animal cruelty cases stem from people not having the money to properly care for their animals, not malicious intent.

Sen. Affie Ellis (R-Laramie County) wondered how often Wyoming's animal cruelty laws are invoked. In past legislative sessions, farming and ranching groups have also expressed concerns about possible impacts on livestock operations in the state from similar bills.

The Senate Committee of the Whole ended up voting against the bill by a 21-7 margin, with two absent.