AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A Maine prosecutor and humane organization are supporting a bill in the Maine Legislature to increase penalties in cases of large-scale animal cruelty by breeders and hoarders.

The agriculture committee on Friday is holding a hearing on Sen. Deborah Simpson’s so-called “puppy mill” bill.” The Auburn Democrat’s bill would make abuse of 25 or more animals a felony instead of misdemeanor.

York County district Attorney Mark Lawrence, a former Maine Senate president, said Friday that the bill increases penalties but also allows probation after a conviction, meaning the state can make sure the abuse does not continue.

Lawrence says the bill is “long overdue.”

The Humane Society of the United States Maine chapter is also supporting Simpson’s bill.

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