Arkansas Voters On Animal Fights And Legislation
Examines Arkansas voters’ opinions about animal fighting specifically and animal protection laws in general, including the perceived persuasiveness of fourteen statements that promote animal protection laws and crimes for animal cruelty.
This poll was conducted among four Congressional districts located in Arkansas. This survey explores public support of a ballot measure that would make extreme cruelty towards animals a felony, establishing the offense of aggravated cruelty to animals, which provides for psychological evaluation and treatment of offenders, as well as increased jail time and fines for third times offenders. This measure also provides for abused animals to be transferred to a humane shelter, increases penalties for cockfighting and bans possession of birds and tools for fighting. In addition, the measure would also allow for lawful hunting and fishing, routine and customary poultry and livestock husbandry practices, pest control practices, humane methods of destroying ill or injured animals and veterinary practices.
77% would vote in favor of this measure while 16% would not. Of the undecided, 3% are leaning in favor, 2% are leaning toward not in favor and 4% are undecided either way.
78% of respondents were in favor of making cockfighting a felony in AK, similar to the law against dog fighting. 17% were opposed and 6% were unsure.
62% were in favor of making it a felony to possess fighting birds or fighting equipment, while 29% were opposed and 9% were unsure.
72% were in favor of making it a misdemeanor to attend any cockfight or animal fight event, while 24% were opposed and 5% did not know.
Respondents were asked to rate the persuasiveness of various statement (% Very persuasive/ % Somewhat persuasive/ % Don’t know/% Somewhat unpersuasive/%Very unpersuasive):
- “AK should follow the 33 states that already made animal cruelty a felony to address the most brutal abuse” – (48%/26%/4%/13%/10%)
- “The law would provide appropriate penalties for the most extreme and horrific cases of deliberate animal cruelty but would not alter the existing misdemeanor law for less serious offenses such as unintentional neglect.” – (42%/37%/5%/8%/9%)
- “Because violent criminals often start of by abusing animals, taking animal abuse more seriously would reduce child and spouse abuse and other types of violence.” – (49%/25%/5%/10%/12%)
- “The law allows judges to provide for psychological counseling and treatment, at the abuser’s expense.” – (44%/30%/5%/9%/12%)
- “The weak penalties for cockfighting must be increased because even though cockfighting is already banned, it continues as a major underground industry in AK.” – (46%/26%/6%/10%/13%)
- “The law would not affect activities such as hunting or fishing or any customary farm and livestock practices that are legal in AK.” – (59%/21%/4%/7%/10%)
- “Because dog fighting is already illegal, the new law only makes the penalties for cockfighting and all animal fighting consistent.” – (40%/31%/7%/12%/11%)
- “We don’t need a new law because we already have laws which prevent cruelty to animals.” – (23%/20%/5%/20%/33%)
- “It is ridiculous to make cockfighting a felony because it is one thing to protect cats and dogs, but quite another to try to protect chickens.” – (14%/13%/7%/17%/48%)
- “We all agree that mistreating animals is wrong, but it should not be as serious a crime as violence toward people. Those who are cruel to animals need counseling, not a jail sentence where they are thrown in prison with murderers and rapists.” – (27%/29%/4%/18%/23%)
- ” The AK farm bureau says that if we pass felony laws on animal cruelty, it will hurt AK agriculture and may even result in farmers being jailed.” – (18%/18%/8%/18%/39%)
- “Sometimes farm animals and pets need discipline so we can’t waste the time of courts and police trying to decide what is good discipline and what is cruelty toward animals.” – (19%/23%/6%/18%/34%)
- “Passing laws to make animal cruelty a felony is the first step towards restricting hunting and fishing in AK.” – (20%/18%/4%/21%/38%)
- “The measure is being promoted by radical animal rights activists who care more about the rights of animals than they do about people.” – (24%/21%/7%/13%/35%)
- “Cockfighting should not be punished because it is a huge industry which provides a livelihood for man AK residents.” – (14%/%/5%/17%/58%)
Subsequent to being presented with the position statements, respondents were asked again about the measure which would make extreme cruelty towards animals a felony. 74% were in favor of the measure, while 18% were not, 1% were leaning toward being in favor, while 2% were leaning away from the measure. 5% remained undecided.
The names most favored for the comprehensive animal cruelty measure were:
- The AK Animal Cruelty and Animal Fighting Prevention Act (19%)
- The AK Aggravated Cruelty to Animals Act (20%)
- The AK Animal Cruelty Prevention Act (26%)
- The AK Animal Cruelty and Fighting Act (9%)
- The AK Animal Fighting Prevention and Cruelty Act (15%)
- Don’t know (11%)
49% of respondents were age 50+ years, 65% were pet owners, 13% had farm animals, and 47% came from hunting households.