BOISE, Idaho - House lawmakers have approved a plan to authorize felony penalties for animal cruelty and cockfighting in Idaho for the first time.
The House voted 64-2 Wednesday to pass the bill, which creates a three strikes felony for animal cruelty convictions.
The proposal was amended to also make it a felony to organize cockfighting events accompanied by drugs and gambling, a move that appeases animal rights groups threatening to put an initiative before voters with much stiffer animal cruelty penalties.
Idaho and the Dakotas are the lone states without a felony animal cruelty law.
Blackfoot Rep. Dennis Lake says the legislation is backed by the livestock industry, which has historically opposed animal cruelty bills.
The measure exempts normal animal production practices.
It now heads to the full Senate for final approval.