SOUTHEAST IOWA — Amy Hubbell, of Ottumwa, says she's responsible for nursing her dog, Kyhia, back to health.
"She would not leave my sight when we got home because she knew she was saved," Hubbell said.
Hubbell was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression. She said Kyhia helps her overcome some of those challenges.
"If I have an anxiety attack, a panic attack, she's right there next to me," Hubbell said. "This dog is my best friend, and she's been there for me."
Before Kyhia moved into her forever home, she was surrendered to an animal shelter.
"Skin and bones," said Hubbell's father, Jim Hubbell. "...And now she's healthy and a lovable dog."
Some lawmakers in Iowa are saying enough is enough.
"I think it's time that Iowa addresses it," said Sen. Tony Bisignano. "It's really embarrassing and pathetic that we're at the bottom of the list of states in how we protect domestic animals."
Bisignano introduced Senate Study Bill 1075 this session, which aims to increase penalties for animal abuse. The bill would enhance charges against second-time offenders.
"Right now, it's a misdemeanor...they get a slap on the wrist for something that should be a felony offense," said Aimee Crow, who manages a Paws-N-Claws foster home in Hedrick, Iowa.
"We work with the neglect cases and try to rehab them so that they can go to the shelter and be adopted, or they can go to another rescue and be adoptable," Crow said.
Crow has taken in dozens of dogs from across the region. Some of those animals have been neglected, and others physically abused.
"I have some that I know have been physically beaten, and starved," Crow said. "There's a variety of different reasons why a human will neglect a dog, or abuse a dog."
And in many animal abuse cases, Crow says mental health is a factor.
"If you look at most of the neglect and abuse cases, the person who is doing that, is having some type of mental health issue," Crow said.
Bisignano tells KTVO he's seeking change to ensure good health and well-being for the animals, and the people who are abusing them.
"It's broader than just protecting the pets," Bisignano said. "It's looking at the future for some of these people who are committing such crimes."
Senate Study Bill 1075 will be placed in front of the senate judiciary committee next week.