Rep. Stephanie A. Young (D-Detroit)

State Rep. Stephanie A. Young (D-Detroit) testifies before the House Criminal Justice Committee on House Bill 5587, part of the animal cruelty package, on May 21, 2024. Also pictured, Beatrice Friedlander, Attorney for Animals.

LANSING, Mich., June 20, 2024 — House Dems voted out House Bills 5587-5593 today, the animal cruelty package that increases the penalties of various forms of animal abuse and adds companion animals to several offense variable provisions, allowing the abuse of animals to increase sentences. State Rep. Stephanie A. Young, (D-Detroit) sponsor of HB 5587, is motivated by her four-legged son to see this bill package pass into law.

“When you read my bio, it says I am the proud mom of two sons, and I’m also the mom-owner of a 4-legged adopted ‘son,’ Spirit, who has been part of my family for more than 10 years. It just didn’t seem right to me that we treat our four-legged family members like inanimate objects when it comes to animal abuse,” Young said.

Anne Griffin, director of advocacy for the Michigan Humane Society, who testified in support of the bill package when it was in committee, recalls the 2023 case of horrific animal abuse of the labrador affectionately named Bear. The neighbor shot and killed Bear and hid his dismembered body in the garage. When he received the four-year felony sentence for third-degree animal cruelty, he ended up with 24 months’ probation. The judge in the case told advocates, including Griffin, that if they disagree with the sentencing guidelines, then work to change it with their state representatives. Griffin and Young have been working on the package together ever since.

Rep. Stephanie A. Young and Spirit.

Rep. Stephanie A. Young and her “four-legged son”, Spirit, enjoying a car ride. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Young)


“Our society increasingly recognizes the intrinsic value of animals. They are not mere property, rather they are companions, helpers and sentient beings. These are the companion animals who provide services to assist their humans with issues like depression, seizures, diabetes or other cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s. This legislation impacts an estimated 500,000 service dogs in the United States. We must take care of the companion animals or four-legged family members that take care of their human owners and family,” Young continued.

HB 5590, sponsored by state Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing) increases the penalties for animal cruelty committed while using a weapon. “These bills work together to recognize the importance of and reliance on companion animals.  People with disabilities who rely on their animals for whatever reason should have peace of mind knowing that we now have better laws in place to protect their animals from harm,” said Tsernoglou.

HB 5588, sponsored by state Rep. Veronica Paiz (D-Harper Woods) amends the sentencing guidelines provisions in the Code of Criminal Procedure adding the definition of “companion animal” to mean an animal that is commonly considered to be, or is considered by its owner to be, a pet, or that is a service animal. Companion animals include, but are not limited to, dogs and cats. “All companion animals deserve protection. Voting this bill out of the House reflects our empathy and compassion toward these beloved companions., ” said Paiz.