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More and more videos circulate on the internet each day, thanks to the rise of the information age.  Some heartwarming videos make people react strongly every time soldiers coming home, birds bobbing their heads to metal music, children running around with pumpkins on their heads.  But what tugs at the heart even more are the videos about animals recovering from abuse — a scenario which remains all too common in Louisiana and beyond.

“Animal cruelty is still something we see on a daily basis,” said Destinie Hammond, digital media coordinator for the Louisiana Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA/SPCA) in an email to Driftwood. “The cases we see range from failure to provide minimum standards to physical abuse.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that every 60 seconds an animal is abused. It is so common that it is difficult to calculate just how frequently animal abuse is committed. That’s because animal abuse and neglect is an endlessly ongoing situation in the U.S.

According to the Humane Society’s website, cruelty and neglect constitute abuse, which exists throughout the social and economic classes and is common in both rural and urban areas.  The people who intentionally abuse animals are predominantly men under age 30, while those who are involved in animal hoarding are most likely to be women over the age of 60.   

On its 2011 census, Pet-abuse.com has reported 1,423 U.S. cruelty cases, with 21 of these cases occuring in Louisiana.  Based off this information, of all reported incidents, 70.1 percent involved dogs, 20.9 percent involved cats and 24.1 percent involved other animals, such as horses, pigs and birds.  Their reports show that there have been more than 285 cases of animal abuse in Louisiana between 1997 and 2016, with 36 of these cases in Orleans parish, comprising approximately 12.6 percent of the cases.  Some of the occurrences are due to common neglect, while others are more undeniably horrifying.  

On Oct. 24,  2007, a man in Lakeview was convicted of beating his dog with a baseball bat and killing it with an axe. The police were called to the scene due to a report that a dog was screaming inside of the house. In July 2011, a woman dropped off a burned Yorkshire terrier puppy in a carrying case at Zeus’ Place, a local pet grooming facility.  Are you starting to feel sick yet?  

On Dec. 9, 2009, three men stole a newborn calf from Red Bluff Farm near Folsom, took it to an apartment complex, and proceeded to beat the poor animal to death using shovels.  They just wanted to take out their drunken frustrations from the loss of a Saints game the normal wayyou know, that casual “beat-the-cow” method.  

I think by this point you wouldn’t want to hear any more of these cases, but the sad truth is that they go on forever.  And, to top it all off, these are just the cases that have been reported.  

Despite animal abuse being a felony in the United States and Louisiana, there are still some flaws in the system.  The punishments don’t seem to fit the crimes.  According to 11th edition of The Animal Protection Laws of the USA and Canada, Louisiana divides the crime of cruelty to animals into two parts: simple cruelty and aggravated cruelty.  Simple cruelty occurs when a person intentionally torments, overworks, neglects, injures or mistreats an animal in any way.  Someone who intentionally tortures, maims or mutilates any living animal, no matter who the owner is, is guilty of aggravated cruelty.  

The maximum penalty for the first offence of simple cruelty is six months imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine and 40 hours of community service.  Subsequent offenses are given 10 years imprisonment and/or a $25,000 fine.  Meanwhile, the maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty is 10 years imprisonment and/or a $25,000 fine.  

“The Louisiana SPCA has advocated for stricter animal cruelty laws since we were chartered in 1888. In 1984, we, along with the Jefferson SPCA, successfully persuaded state legislatures to approve a bill making dog fighting illegal in Louisiana,” Hammond said.  “Thankfully, we have a network of foster parents that work to rehabilitate these animals with the hope that they will learn to trust people again and eventually find their forever homes.”

I don’t really see much of a difference between simple and aggravated assault, and therefore, the difference in conviction seems like an easy way for perpetrators to get off on a lighter sentence.  If someone is intentionally harming a dog, it’s a crime. Hurting an animal intentionally, whether moderately or severely, is always indicative of poor morals, and therefore there should be no difference in how the two crimes are sentenced.

While those charged are required to pay for the care of the abused animal, I would love to live in a world where those convicted were required to pay the full $25,000 to the person or organization that cared for the animal. On top of that $25,000, violators should also have to spend at least one year in prison. This penalty should increase exponentially for repeat offenders.  After the third conviction, there is an obvious disregard for life, and therefore the convicted person should go to prison for life.  

 

If you would like to report animal cruelty, please contact any of the organizations below.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS): http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/tips/cruelty_action.html

Report to HSUS through their tip lines: Dogfighting – (877-847-4787); Puppy Mills – (877-645-5847); Illegal horse soring – (855-667-6746).

 

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA):

https://www.peta.org/about-peta/contact-peta/report-cruelty/

If police are unresponsive to an animal abuse call, contact PETA immediately at (757-622-7382).  

 

 

Not-so-fun animal abuse facts:

A man in California was killed in an argument over a $10 cockfight bet.

Cruelty to animals is highly correlated with other crimes, including violence against humans.  One survey shows that 71 percent of domestic violence victims revealed that their abuser also harmed pets.  

In 2006, a man in Metairie was convicted for throwing kittens out of his moving vehicle. The last one was thrown out of the truck in Kenner, and police said the injured kitten later died.  

 

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