Young Gunz owner charged with misdemeanors – a prime example of how Iowa’s animal welfare laws fall short

By on June 24, 2018

Dustin Young, owner of Young Gunz Kennels, abandoned dozens of dogs on his property recently. After owners of some of those dogs were not given their hunting-trained pups when it was agreed upon, they investigated. What they found on Young’s property was gruesome. Dead dogs in bags, even the freezer. New mommy dogs with pups in plastic swimming pools, no food or water. Other dogs were sick while more were missing and presumed dead.

Earlier this week, Young was charged in Pottawattamie County with 40 counts of animal neglect- all misdemeanor crimes.

County Attorney Matt Wilbur has been around nearly two decades and recently told the Omaha World Herald that this case of animal neglect is among the worst he’s seen. So why misdemeanors that carry a small-ish fine and relatively short jail sentence if convicted?

“Iowa has some of the worst animal welfare laws in the country,” he told the World Herald. “It is almost impossible to get a decent charge.”

And Wilbur understands why it’s so difficult, stating that “past efforts to strengthen Iowa’s animal welfare laws have gotten caught up in fears about making things difficult for Iowa’s farmers.” Lawmakers and farmers know that stricter laws for companion animals, like dogs, will likely translate into agriculturalists having to treat other animals differently. That’s to say, more humanely and less friendly to the bottom line.

Young could be facing a number of fines and up to seven years in jail. Wilbur is not confident his sentence will approach the max, according to the World Herald article cited above. A few recent sentences have been surprisingly harsh for animal abuse cases (mostly in Nebraska), but typical sentences for cases like this have been disappointing to animal advocates.

Young is due back in the Iowa court on July 10.

Wilbur hopes support for more adequate laws is on the horizon. As Iowa ranks among the worst in the country related to animal welfare legislation, there are plenty who are hoping (and fighting) for an improvement soon.

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