Idaho Rancher Fined $1200 For Abuse Of 98 Cattle


A view off a brown deck shows green pine trees on a field of light green grass beneath a blue sky on a summer's day.
Orofino resident Linda Crawford said more deer and elk have returned to her property this summer since the wandering cows were removed in the spring. They often passed through her property searching for food and water. (Photo by Linda Crawford)

A north Idaho court has levied $1200 in court costs to a cattle rancher who pleaded guilty to charges of animal abuse. It’s a lenient sentence if you consider the punishment in Oregon or Washington. Correspondent Lauren Paterson reports. (Runtime 1:23)


Ninety-eight of Doug Towles’ cows were found dead or starving near his hometown of Orofino, Idaho. 

A court document filed shows Towles won’t be allowed to own cattle for two years. It’s a slap on the wrist, says Kathleen Wood, an attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

“So Idaho has some of the weakest animal protection laws and even torture of companion animals and misdemeanor on a first offense,” she says.

Wood’s organization is dedicated to advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. It issues an annual report.

“And Idaho is ranked 49th out of the 50 states for having the weakest animal protection laws. And by comparison, Oregon is ranked third.” Wood says Washington is ranked 10th.

Idaho has no felony level charges for animal abuse. In Washington, first degree animal cruelty – inflicting pain, physical injury, or causing undue suffering – is a felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. In Oregon, animal abuse is also a felony.

“Interestingly, Oregon has a law that states that if you are neglecting 10, or more animals, that all of those offenses are elevated to felonies,” she says. 

Wood says Oregon is also one of the few places to recognize animals as crime victims, which means if you neglect 98 animals in Oregon, you could be convicted of 98 separate crimes.