Legislation introduced in time for local lobbying effortA South Range Democrat and a Republican from Lodi, in south central Wisconsin, joined forces to reintroduce a bill in the state Legislature on Friday initiated by Windchill’s Legacy, a grassroots citizens group from Douglas County.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
A South Range Democrat and a Republican from Lodi, in south central Wisconsin, joined forces to reintroduce a bill in the state Legislature on Friday initiated by Windchill’s Legacy, a grassroots citizens group from Douglas County.
Rep. Nick Milroy, South Range, and Rep. Keith Ripp, Lodi, set the wheels in motion, and next week, Windchill’s Law, will be among the issues addressed by Superior Days delegates, a grassroots lobbying effort that takes place in Madison Feb. 21 and Feb. 22. More than 200 adults and youth from six northern counties in Wisconsin will descend on the Capitol next week to address issues of concern in the region.
Among them, “Windchill’s Law” will get another push.
Named for a 9-month-old colt found malnourished, covered with snow and ice, and unable to stand, “Windchill’s Law” was first introduced last session.
The bill passed the Assembly, but was not taken up by the Senate prior to the end of the legislative session.
“We ran into some roadblocks last session with some of the language in the bill,” said Milroy. “This session we are introducing a scaled-down version that was agreed upon following many discussions between Representative Ripp, myself, and other interested parties.”
The bill is designed to provide more than “a slap on the wrist” for animal abuse and neglect.
Jeff Tucker and Kathi Davis discovered the young horse as the wind chill hovered between 40- and 55- degrees below zero, with no access to shelter. While a great effort was put forth to save the animal, the colt died 20 days later.
In 2009, Pamela Javenkoski was sentenced in Douglas County Circuit Court for the neglect of the animal. She received 45 days in jail, a $500 fine, and was ordered to allow authorities to inspect her property to check on animals in her care for five years after pleading no contest to allegations of animal abuse. A deferred judgment agreement and $200 fine was ordered for Shane Javenkoski, also charged with neglect of the colt.
The Milroy/Ripp proposal contains provisions to redefine animal neglect and provide judges more lateral in sentencing offenders. The proposal:
• Adds “great bodily harm” to the animal cruelty provision that covers intentional mutilation, disfigurement or death of an animal.
• Clarifies the abandonment statute.
• Defines water as it pertains to providing water to animals.
• Expands the number of years from five to 10 that a court may order a violator not own, possess or train an animal.
• Allows the sentencing court to order a psychological assessment, counseling or treatment, and anger management counseling or treatment.
Milroy said he is optimistic the bipartisan effort will help the bill gain more traction this legislative session.
“Our legislative proposal is truly a bipartisan effort,” Milroy said. “We have a good number of co-sponsors on the bill with legislators on both sides of the aisle.”
“It is a nonpartisan issue,” said Polly Niemi, a local advocate and member of Windchill’s Legacy who has made numerous trips to Madison in order to bring awareness to the issue of animal cruelty and abandonment.
“I’ve been inspired by Polly’s energy, passion and determination,” Milroy said. “Without Polly’s hard work, we would never be where we are today.”
Niemi is leading Superior Days efforts to get the bill passed this session.
After being told last session they were trying to solve all the ills of Wisconsin in one fell swoop, Niemi said the legislation introduced this session is very concise.
“This is not an isolated incident,” Niemi said of the neglect that resulted in Windchill’s death in 2008. “It’s something that’s keeping on happening all over our state … it called attention to difficulties in our statutes. This legislation is designed to tighten up the wording of our statutes.”