Elsa inspires petition to increase penalty for animal cruelty

ST. GEORGE — Elsa, the horse found malnourished and lying on the frozen ground and soon after died despite efforts by caretakers to save her, may spawn a legacy that will long outlast her. Elisabeth Carroll, along with the thousands of signatures and supporters, are seeking to increase the penalty for animal cruelty from a class-B or C misdemeanor to a second degree felony.

Elsa and her mother, Anna, were found on Jan. 2, after a call was placed into Iron County dispatch to report the distress of the two horses. Enoch Animal Control responded and found the horses in deplorable conditions.

Elsa the 18-month-old filly was barely alive, with open wounds, emaciated to half the normal size of a horse her age and laying on the frozen ground. Both horses were taken to Dust Devil Ranch where they received care. After intense care, Elsa died in the arms of her caretaker, Ginger Grimes, the owner of the horse sanctuary ranch.

The owner was charged with two counts of animal cruelty, a class-B misdemeanor which carries a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. After her death, many Utah residents have been working to change Utah law to have harsher punishments for those involved in acts of animal cruelty.

The petition asks for horses to be designated as companion animals instead of livestock; and for the failure to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter to be designated as a second-degree felony with a sentence of one to 15 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $10,000.

“Horses bond with each other and with their owners, they feel love and they feel loss, and they deserve to receive the best of care to live long, happy lives,” the petition said. “Please, create and pass Elsa’s Law!”

Elisabeth Carroll created two petitions on change.org, linked below, both hoping to achieve the same legislative result: one for Utah residents, one for non-Utah residents. As of Feb. 4, the Utah resident petition has received 3,053 signatures and the non-Utah resident petition has received 2,962 signatures.

Changing any law is a process and it is not something that happens overnight,” Carroll said.

The petition is addressed to state Sens. Gene Davis, Evan Vickers, Mark Madsen, Lyle Hillyard, Patricia Jones, Luz Robles, Daniel Thatcher, Stephen Urquhart, and Todd Weiler, and Rep. John Westwood.

“I am 100 percent supportive of Elsa’s law,” Jones said. “Research has shown a strong correlation between cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans.  I will do all I can to support the bill.  This was a tragedy that should never be repeated.”

Carroll and supporters are reaching to the community to sign the petition and encourage legislators to make the change.

The bill has not received a sponsor yet and may not be moving quickly enough for the current legislative session. Carroll said she will continue to petition legislators even after the current session ends.

“These times of things take time, but there is a trend toward more ethical treatment of animals,” Carroll said.


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  • kristen leblanc February 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Please change your laws

  • Domestic February 5, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    St George people are weird. You don’t see any petitions to address domestic violence even though Utah has one of the highest rates of domestic violence and rape. In Utah, even cattle are treated better than women who are considered as cattle.

  • Craig February 5, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Every time an effort is made to change the laws, our politicians somehow lose their backbone and water it down.
    Here is an article from 2008: https://animallawcoalition.com/a-compromise-bill-passes-utah-legislature/

    Notice the section that states “The compromise law also amends current law by excluding wildlife and many other animals from the definition of “animal”. “Livestock” which is specifically defined as horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys and other animals are no longer “animals” but instead are creatures not entitled to any protection as long as they are treated according to accepted husbandry or customary farming practices.”
    These are your so called compassionate Christian politicians at work for you. They all need to be tossed out.

    • Boots February 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      What about compassion for other people? That is lacking in the character of people in StG who are more concerned about their dogs than other people.

      • Craig February 5, 2014 at 6:52 pm

        I absolutely love my dogs more than I love many people.
        My dogs are not obnoxious or annoying. They are not loud or demanding. They certainly don’t care what religion someone is and have no discrimination re:skin color , sexual orientation, school affiliation or political party. And, unlike me, they don’t make fun of the people who believe in the power of a rock filled hat.

  • Rick February 5, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Where can I sign this petition? People have the ability to take care of themselves. Animals must rely on us for food, shelter, and upkeep. What those people did to those horses is nothing short of torture and murder.

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