Iowa court rules man who beat puppy to death with bat isn't guilty of animal torture

In 2009, an Iowa Supreme Court decision led to the state becoming the first in the Midwest to legalize gay marriage.

SEE ALSO: In Iowa, women can be lawfully fired for being so sexy, they make their boss contemplate an affair

That's a ruling we can get behind. But we can't say the same for the Iowa Court of Appeals' ruling in the Zachary Meerdink animal cruelty case.

Earlier this week, the appeals court overturned the conviction of Meerdink, 31, who was sentenced to two years in prison last year for using a baseball bat to beat to death a puppy given to him by his girlfriend.

The circumstances are explained by the Quad-City Times:

Jamie Holladay testified that Meerdink, her boyfriend, stayed at her Davenport apartment when the incident occurred in December 2011.

Holladay bought him a 4-month-old Boston terrier after he had shoulder surgery. After she returned home one night, Meerdink had the puppy under his arm, and she testified that he looked "out of it."

A few minutes later, Meerdink returned carrying a baseball bat and looking "confused." He then told her the dog was dead, she testified.

Police found the dog's body in tall grass near the apartment building.

She testified that the next day Meerdink said the dog had bit one of her sons, and she later found the bite mark on the child.

That certainly seems like torture, doesn't it? But in a 2-1 ruling, Meerdink's conviction was overturned because of how Iowa law defines "animal torture."

As the AP reports, the court ruled 2-1 that Meerdink didn't have "depraved intent" when he killed the 7-month-old Boston Terrier in 2011. But in order to secure a conviction for animal torture, prosecutors must demonstrate that sort of intent, the court ruled.

The dissenting opinion pointed out, to no avail, that Meerdink's response to the dog's accident was "an extreme response to an ordinary and foreseeable occurrence."

The ruling overturns Meerdink's conviction and two-year prison sentence. The AP reports that he was paroled in April.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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