When Rhonda Kamper went home almost two years ago, she found that her husband at the time, Marc Vincent, had cooked their dog Henry in the oven.
Henry had also lost an eye when Vincent chased him with a leaf blower a month before he put Henry in the oven. The court charged Vincent with a misdemeanor.
"We're here trying to pass Henry's Law which would upgrade animal torture to a third-degree felony," Kamper said. Vincent, whom Kamper divorced after the incident, served four months in jail and two months of probation.
Advocates of Henry's Law came to the University of Utah to encourage support for the bill on Wednesday. The group Help Us Help Them is collecting signatures for a petition supporting Henry's Law. About 250 people have signed the petition.
Senate Bill 102 would make animal torture a third-degree felony for the first offense. A Senate committee is considering the measure.
Students flocked to the group's table in the Union to pet Henry while members of Help Us Help Them told students about two less stringent animal torture bills that were proposed in response to Henry's Law.
Senate Bill 117, which has already passed in the Senate and will now go to a House committee, would make animal torture a felony on the second offense.
With that bill, Vincent would have to cook the dog twice before he would be charged with a felony, said Daniel Dew, an advocate for Henry's Law.
House Bill 470 is meant to be a compromise between Henry's Law and SB 117, Dew said.
"The bill requires the animal torture to be a 'heinous crime' and to be enhanced by something like a child watching the animal being tortured," he said.
Some students who approached the table supported making animal torture a felony on the first offense.
"The other laws aren't adequate," said Douglas Larsen, an undeclared freshman. "We're not talking about accidentally running over a dog or hitting it over the nose with a newspaper. We're talking about putting a dog in the oven. This needs to be recognized for what it is and dealt with appropriately."
Laurel Baeder, an undeclared freshman, said she thought any of the bills would be better than nothing.
"The people with Henry's Law don't think the bills are harsh enough, but even one of those bills is a step in the right direction," she said.
© 2008 Daily Utah Chronicle via U-WIRE