DES MOINES — A Senate committee has advanced a bill that would raise the penalties for abusing, neglecting or torturing animals. However, key lawmakers expect farm interests to seek major changes if the bill is debated in the full senate.

During yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Senator Tony Bisignano of Des Moines, a Democrat, said he believes the bill, as written now, will not impact the agricultural community.

“I mean, there’s something fundamentally wrong when torturing dogs and cats doesn’t seem like something you care about,” Bisignano said. “Tell us what we’re missing, so we can correct it.”

Senator Rich Taylor, a Democrat from Mount Pleasant, voted against the bill in committee.

“I think this bill will actually hurt my good pet breeders, which I have several (in my district) and I’ve been to several of their facilities and know that they take very good care of their animals,” Taylor said.

Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, said public sentiment is behind the bill.

“Companion animals are members of our families,” Zaun said. “I know when we lose our pets, it’s devastating.”

An animal cruelty bill has never gotten to this point in the Iowa Legislature. It cleared the House by unanimous vote a week ago and was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday on a 12-2 vote.