"Ted Bundy used to torture animals," says House Minority Leader Frank Pignanelli, referring to the famous serial killer who stalked Utah women in the 1970s.

It's anti-social behavior that needs to be stopped, and Pignanelli, D-Salt Lake, seeks to increase the penalty for torturing animals."We need to take care of our children, watch out for the innocent. And take care of animals, too," said Pignanelli just before House members adopted a bill that would increase the crime of abusing animals from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor.

Pignanelli, who says he has two cats, wanted the penalty increased to a Class A misdemeanor. But that carries a one-year jail sentence and usually is heard before a district or circuit court judge. Some House members wanted such cases heard at a more local level, by a judge of a justice of the peace court, where rural and/or community standards can better be taken into account.

Pignanelli said his bill doesn't affect rodeo stock, which sometimes are treated roughly. And rural and urban Utahns can still kill pesky raccoons and skunks without worry of being arrested for animal abuse.