Ohio close to passing new animal-cruelty law

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The Ohio House voted Wednesday to approve new legislation to increase the penalty for acts of animal cruelty, specifically making the act of “abusing or torturing a pet to death” a felony – as reported by Cleveland.com. The measure will now move to the State Senate before hopefully being signed into law by the governor.

Those guilty of the fifth-degree felony could get six months to one year in jail.

I wish the penalty involved a longer sentence. And in reading over the text of the HB274, it seems a ban on possessing animals can be left up to the court:

The court also may prohibit or place limitations on the person’s ability to own or care for any companion animals for a specified or indefinite period of time.

It should be a lifetime ban for anyone who abuses or tortures an animal.

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Article highlights weakness in current animal-cruelty regulations

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Ignorance as a primary factor in animal-cruelty cases was the primary theme for an article posted November 30 on the Topeka Capital-Journal website.

But the article also notes how much local law enforcement agencies can be handcuffed by current regulations. Which clearly indicates these current regulations do not offer enough protections for animals suffering from abuse.

So when you read a statement or hear someone state that enforcement of current regulations is all that needs to happen – and claim new laws are not needed, we know these claims have little basis in reality.

The Topeka Capital-Journal piece offers this:

Unless the situation is life-threatening, officers can’t do much within the first three to four days of a complaint.

And this:

Officers also have authority to act under exigent circumstances — those instances in which they know an animal will die if they don’t intervene immediately, Hamilton said.

But it seems in cases of severe suffering, but where the officer might not be able to show the animal is about to die, they cannot act to rescue the pet immediately.

We need stronger regulations nationwide. Clearly, animals can be suffering greatly where the abuse is not to a level where they are going to die immediately. We see this often in puppy-mill cases, where the abuse had to reach horrible levels before


Another weak sentence for animal cruelty – in a puppy-mill case

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I continue to be stunned by the support some facets of our legal system shows for those who engage in acts of cruelty to animals. I use the phrase ‘support’ because some courts refuse to make the punishment fit the crime.

I also blame state legislatures across the nation and the federal government for refusing to enact real sentencing guidelines that put abusers behind bars, with life-time bans on possessing animals.

And it has happened again. A Nebraska puppy-mill operator has been sentence (if you can call it that) to two-years probation and will only be barred from possessing dogs for two years.

The Journal Star reports the following about the puppy-miller, since 2006:

Nebraska Department of Agriculture inspection reports dating back to then show a pattern of neglect and violations, including animals living in their own urine and feces, overcrowding, sharp wire in enclosures, improperly secured animals and too few employees.

The guilty party will have to pay veterinary bills amassed for the care of the rescued dogs. At least the suffering victims get that.

But the report by the Journal Star offers more troubling information, which highlights how weak current regulations really are, along with some very poor enforcement.

Back in January, the Department of Agriculture turned the breeder in to the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office. Some of the breeder’s dogs were taken away. She was given until July 1 to downsize to no more than 18 adult dogs. WHY? Why allow someone who has been found to be abusing animals to keep ANY animals.

This should never be allowed to happen anywhere. This case alone should be a red flag for every state in the country. Animal abuse on the level described in the story should be grounds for an immediate seizure of all animals on the property – certainly through the trial of the accused.

The article noted 19 of the dogs taken in this case had various ailments that included – “open weeping sores, infections, overgrown nails, matted hair, bad teeth, fistulas, hernias from repeatedly giving birth and lower jaws rotted completely away due to infection.”

How could anyone suggest it was okay to leave animals behind, to suffer for months – or even a few more hours – in these conditions. Those in positions of authority need to step forward to change this system and put some truly strong regulations in place.


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Wacky Mentality Award: Rep. Marsha Blackburn on Horse Soring

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This one ranks as unbelievable. Marsha Blackburn, a congresswoman from Tennessee, is speaking out against legislation that would strengthen the ban horse soring.

The practice involves using corrosive chemicals on the legs of some show horses, in a cruel effort to make them step high for shows. They are known as gaited show horses and are used in competitions. And as we see with greyhound racing and horse racing and other similar industries, where there is this level of competition, there are people who will do anything to win.

But Blackburn thinks it’s too much regulation. A piece on Huffington Post published earlier today quotes her in a hearing as saying:

“This legislation brings excessive regulatory burdens on the walking horse industry and could potentially eliminate the entire industry and thus the entire breed.”

So she believes we should not ban severe acts of cruelty because it could hurt the business where the cruelty takes place. And although she doesn’t seem to possess the self-awareness to understand what she is actually saying – she is actually saying the cruelty should be allowed, so that the industry can thrive.

It is far from being an “excessive regulatory burden” to ban cruelty. Blackburn’s lack of knowledge concerning the severity of this practice and concerning the suffering the horses endure in training is troubling. And her lack of logical thought here is staggering.

And the Huffington Post piece also notes trainers “use heavy weights or painful chains on the horses’ hooves.”

I applaud Kentucky Rep. Ed Whitfield for introducing the bill to protect horses. But for her efforts, Marsha Blackburn is more than deserving of a Wacky Mentality Award.


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Local, online poll shows huge support for anti-puppy mill laws

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Online polls can be a bit unscientific, the numbers found in a local news station poll this week are incredible. WWAY in Wilmington, NC asked readers if they think North Carolina needs to enact tougher puppy-mill laws.

Just up the road from Wilmington, around 100 dogs were recently rescued in a raid on a rural puppy mill.

As of Friday morning, 762 people had voted in the poll, with 92 percent voting YES. While any reasonable person would vote this way, a few did go with NO or Don’t Know/Don’t Care.

Our nation is divided on many political issues and as we’re seeing right now, gridlock is the new norm. But our collective love for animals brings people of all political corners into agreement. Now we just need our elected officials follow the movement. To date, too many elected officials at the state and federal level have been caving in to special-interest groups, who regularly lobby against any and all breeding regulations and/or animal-welfare laws.

In its next session, the North Carolina General Assembly will take up a new anti-puppy mill bill, which has passed one house already.  Any puppy-mill regulations need to include regular, unannounced inspections; requirements for daily exercise and play time; regular veterinary care and standards for kennel sizes and construction.

Our current laws in North Carolina and at the federal level are far too weak. Don’t let anyone tell you current laws are good enough, if enforced. There are gaping holes in current regulations – especially for breeders – in NC and elsewhere.

Enforcement is one key area, but currently, law enforcement does not have the guidelines it needs. Conditions have to be reach extreme levels before police and sheriff departments can act. By that point, the suffering might have gone on for years. Without inspections, we’ve seen puppy mills operate undiscovered for years, if not decades. So many are operating freely right now.


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Wacky Mentality for Monday – Puppy Mills and Dog Fighting

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A couple of news articles from this month put Wacky Mentality on display – again.

Dog fighting and animal cruelty charges were filed last week against a Utah man. Witnesses saw two men holding the leashes of two dogs as they fought. An officer responded and also saw what was happening, as reported by Opposing Views.

So what was the excuse given by one of the men charged? – He said he was letting the dogs fight because they weren’t getting along and this was a way to “help them “get along.”

That is Wacky Mentality.

Over in Oceanside, Calif., the city council voted down a proposal to ban the sale of puppies from puppy mills in retail stores. The vote was 3-2.

The U-T San Diego article included the following:

But Councilmen Jerry Kern, Gary Felien and Jack Feller said they didn’t have enough information about what constituted unethical breeding to move forward with changing the city’s laws.

They didn’t have enough information about the definition of an unethical breeder? How is that possible in 2013?

And others speaking out against the ban tried to claim a ban on the sale of dogs in stores would send dog breeding underground and somehow hurt the long-term viability of breeding.

What a load of what I regularly scoop from our backyard. And then a store owner claimed he had to sell puppies to make a profit, as he could not make it selling supplies.
Again – a load of dung. There are pet stores all over the county that profit from selling pet supplies. It’s one of the consistently-performing elements of the economy.

There are examples of Wacky Mentality all through that news piece.


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Editorial covers a lot of ground on animal welfare

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An editorial by Peter Fricker, projects and communications director for the Vancouver Humane Society, ran September 8 on the Vancouver Sun website.

Fricker covers a lot of territory on animal-welfare topics, from endangered species to habitat loss to horse racing to factory farming to fur farms to bull fighting. He offers one quote indicating that unlike the extinction of animals over the past history of the Earth, human activity is almost entirely to blame for the current extinction crisis.

Among the terrible statistics he cited is this:

More than 10,000 U.S. thoroughbred horses are shipped annually to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. Most of these are young, healthy horses — their racing careers can end at three years old but they can live to 30.

This is a stunning number that outpaces the horrors of the awful greyhound racing industry. The convenient excuse is to claim we have to inflict suffering on animals in vast ways, for financial reasons – or for the jobs the suffering supports.

Is our society still so greedy or in other ways so apathetic that we’re supposed to support cruelty and torture as long as it supplies jobs? We should be at a point – in 2013 – where we’ve advanced beyond this point. But we are not there yet.

I think most people care. But there exist enough greed and apathy and cruelty around us to maintain these industries and entities and to maintain the protection the government is offering them. So horse racing, dog racing, puppy mills and other horrors still exist because too many politicians refuse to put compassion above profit margins.


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Wacky Mentality: In NZ, claim made that clubing seals does not cause pain

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An animal-cruelty case in New Zealand has taken a wacky twist, as the accused is denying he did anything wrong.

On the one hand – fur seals are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act. And then there’s the nation’s Animal Welfare Act, where suffering is the key issue.

The accused is charged with “ill-treating” and killing 23 New Zealand fur seals. The Marlborough Express reports the man’s lawyer says he would have pleaded guilty under the Marine Mammals Protection Act. But he’s denying he made the seals suffer.

And get this from the article:

Defence lawyer David Clark contended it was possible all the seals were killed or knocked out instantly, and would therefore not have felt any pain before they died, some after being hit a second time.

So even if he had to strike the seals a second time, they claim no suffering was involved. The claim stretches far beyond the boundaries of science and reason. So it easily earns a Wacky Mentality Award.


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Another example of how limited bans don’t work with animal abusers

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A couple in Tennessee was arrested a second time this year on animal cruelty charges. They were charged with 134 counts back in February, as reported by WATE.com.

They took a plea deal that included turning over all of their animals and agreeing to not possess animals for one year. Someone negotiated a plea deal that included a mere one-year ban. How is this possible in 2013?

So what did the couple do? How serious did they consider the punishment? – It only took them a few months to get caught with animals again. This time it they were found at an area flea market with 29 chickens.

The article included this quote:

“I was just in shock,” said shelter manager Misti Coffey. “I couldn’t believe that he would go ahead and be so public about owning more animals again.”

I am not shocked at all. The message the couple received from their initial “punishment” was nothing more than a friendly pat on the back from the criminal justice system.

As is the case with too many criminal acts, the criminals believe the judicial system is a joke. A quick slap on the wrist and they are free to plan their next crime.


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NBC News promotes cockfighting as a great vacation stop

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I have been stunned more times than I can count over many years of researching animal-welfare information. But what I read today on the NBC News website ranks as one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever read, in terms of an article from a news outlet, presented as a promotion of animal cruelty – in this case cockfighting in the Philippines.

The article is posted in the Travel section, as if people should use it as an option for something to do on a vacation trip. The writer is shamelessly promoting cockfighting. What’s next from NBC News – an interactive map of underground dog-fighting rings, as a great family outing?

And I’m assuming an NBC News editor looked over the text before approving the article for publication. It is not only an extremely poor example of journalism, it also shows a complete lack of education on the part of everyone involved.

I know NBC News would try to defend the piece by suggesting it was written from the perspective of culture where the daily horrors take place. But where is there even a note of how inhumane cockfighting is?

No legitimate news outlet should ever consider publishing a story promoting visits to child porn websites or how people can save money on vacation travel by tripping-out on crack. Sure, some people think both activities are fine. But isn’t there some moral and professional line that should not be crossed by journalists or columnists?

I could understand an article with the cockfighter’s semi-defense of his immoral acts, along with the viewpoint of intelligent people who despise animal cruelty. But what NBC News published today is both unprofessional and disgusting.

I’m calling for NBC News to pull this drivel from its website and issue an apology for ever allowing it to appear for a second.

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