Sunday, February 28, 2010

How Do You Define Human?

 Exactly what does it take for someone to define human behaviors? The following example should show that we are not that different from the animals around us:

A Russian chimpanzee has been sent to rehab by zookeepers to cure the smoking and beer-drinking habits he has picked up, a popular daily reported on Friday.
An ex-performer, Zhora became aggressive at his circus and was transferred to a zoo in the southern Russian city of Rostov, where he fathered several baby chimps, learned to draw with markers and picked up his two vices.
"The beer and cigarettes were ruining him. He would pester passers-by for booze," the Komsomolskaya Pravda paper said.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What DO cats do when they're home alone?

What do cats do when their owners are away? There was one way to find out – "cat cams."
Fifty house cats were given collar cameras that took a photo every 15 minutes. The results put a digital dent in some human theories about catnapping.
Based on the photos, about 22 percent of the cats' time was spent looking out of windows, 12 percent was used to interact with other family pets and 8 percent was spent climbing on chairs or kitty condos. Just 6 percent of their hours were spent sleeping.
"What surprised me was how active the cats were. I believed my three cats were sleeping during the day," said Jill Villarreal, an animal behavior scientist who collected the data for Nestle Purina PetCare's Friskies brand of cat food.
The 777 photos studied by Villarreal showed the cats looking at a television, computer, DVDs or other media 6 percent of the time and hiding under tables 6 percent of the time.
Coming in at 5 percent was playing with toys; eating or looking at food finished at 4 percent.
Will the cats get movie cameras next? "We are in the think tank now," Villarreal said.

Remove Ken Salazar!!

Recently, US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar enacted a plan to remove Endangered Species protections for Wolves in the western US. This will lead to 1000's of wolves deaths.

We move for the removal of Ken Salazar... seems fair, doesn't it?

Please sign the petition and leave your thoughts on the comments area.

Thank you.

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Thank you for not smoking... indoors

Everyone knows that second hand smoke is bad for people, but does anyone consider how bad it can be for their pets?

Animals can be just as sensitive to airborne pollutants as humans and if you smoke, there is a chance that you are one of those many people that do it inside your home. You take your pets for their checkups, take them for walks and feed them only the best food; you're doing good right?

Well, every time you light up indoors and around your animals, you could very well be undoing all of that good.

Pet owners are rightly concerned about the safety of the food they feed their pets, in light of this year’s wide spread recalls. But pet owners who smoke might be inflicting just as much harm, a veterinarian warns.
Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, an Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service veterinarian, says if secondhand smoke is harmful to people, then it stands to reason it hurts animals too.
“There have been a number of scientific papers recently that have reported the significant health threat secondhand smoke poses to pets,” MacAllister said. “Secondhand smoke has been associated with oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, as well as lung cancer in birds.”
She said a study conducted recently at Tufts College of Veterinary Medicine found a strong correlation between secondhand smoke and certain forms of cancer in cats.
The number of cats with mouth cancer, also known as squamous cell carcinoma, was higher for those animals living in smoking environments versus those felines living in a smoke-free home. In addition, cats that lived with smokers for five or more years had an even higher incidence of this type of oral cancer.

Fatal fur

“One reason cats are so susceptible to secondhand smoke is because of their grooming habits. Cats constantly lick themselves while grooming, therefore they lick up the cancer-causing carcinogens that accumulate on their fur,” MacAllister said. “This grooming behavior exposes the mucous membrane of their mouth to the cancer-causing carcinogens.”
Malignant lymphoma is another type of cancer that cats that live with smokers have a higher risk of getting.
This cancer occurs in the lymph nodes and cats are twice as likely to have this type of cancer compared to cats living in a non-smoking home. This form of cancer is fatal to three out of four cats within 12 months of developing the cancer.

Polluting the pooch

MacAllister also pointed out that secondhand smoke is greatly associated with the increased occurrence of cancer in the nose and sinus area among dogs. Research also indicates a slight association with lung cancer.
“A recent study conducted at Colorado State University shows that there is a higher incidence of nasal tumors in dogs living in a home with secondhand smoke compared to dogs living in a smoke free environment,” she said. “The increased incidence was specifically found among the long nosed breed of dogs. Shorter or medium nosed dogs showed higher rates for lung cancer.”
MacAllister said the longer nosed breeds of dogs have a great surface area in their noses that is exposed to the carcinogens. This also provides more area in which the carcinogens can accumulate. The carcinogens tend to build up on the mucous membranes of long nosed dogs so not as much reaches the lungs.
Unfortunately, dogs affected with nasal cancer normally do not survive more than one year.
“The reason short and medium nose dogs have a higher occurrence of lung cancer is because their shorter nasal passages aren’t as effective at accumulating the inhaled secondhand smoke carcinogens,” she said. “This results in more carcinogens reaching the lungs.”

Canaries in cages

Pet birds also are victims of secondhand smoke. A bird’s respiratory system is hypersensitive to any type of pollutant in the air.
MacAllister said the most serious consequences of secondhand smoke exposure in birds are pneumonia or lung cancer. Other health risks include eye, skin, heart and fertility problems.
Secondhand smoke is not the only danger faced by pets that live in smoke filled environments. Poisoning is another risk they face.
“Curious pets can eat cigarettes and other tobacco products if the products aren’t stored properly,” MacAllister said. “When ingested, this can cause nicotine poisoning, which can be fatal.”
It is important, both for the health of pets and others living in the household, that the smoker has a designated area in which to smoke that is physically separated from the home. In addition, always keep cigarettes, cigarette butts and other tobacco products put away.
“A better choice that could enhance your chances of enjoying a healthier lifestyle with your family and pets would be to stop smoking altogether,” MacAllister said.

Kingston's Story

 The following is a story that was emailed to us by an employee of a local animal shelter:

In early December of 2006, we received a phone call from a gentleman seeking assistance for an abandoned dog that had been living in an alley behind his house. The gentleman, James, had been trying for weeks to gain the dog’s trust and had made little progress as the dog was very skittish, probably meaning he had been on his own for most of his life. The best James could offer was to provide the dog with food and water and blankets, in the hopes that this brought the dog with some comfort. James suspected the dog was living under a car parked in the alley and according to neighbors, had shown up in the area at the start of the many snowstorms and frigid nights we endured.
On the morning that James contacted us, the dog was hit by a car speeding down the alley and then picked up by animal control. Animal control reported that they suspected the dog was a pit bull mix, and would thereby be euthanized after being held at the shelter for a certain number of days. James immediately contacted area rescue groups, hoping that someone would be able to save the dog from the fate that awaited him, due to his breed, and work with the dog while he learned to once again trust in people. Two rescue groups offered solace to this poor dog, and the dog was placed in foster care at a kenneling facility to await a foster home.
Three weeks following the dog’s rescue, a fire broke out in the kenneling facility where the dog was being housed, and he died along with two other dogs. James had visited the dog, which he named Kingston, a number of times during his stay at the kennel, and was so relieved to finally see Kingston, finally safe, warm and cared for. It is beyond heartbreaking for all of us who knew, or had only heard of Kingston, to know what he suffered, only to meet such an end.
Unfortunately, too many animals experience horrible things as a result of the decisions made on their behalf. Kingston’s story highlights so many areas where much work is left to be done. Please spay and neuter your animals, and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Every unwanted dog and cat pays the price of pet overpopulation and very, very few will find their way into forever homes. Question breed specific legislation and breed bans. Educate yourself about the breeds and breed mixes under fire right now and acknowledge that legislation proven to be ineffective is determining the fate of hundreds of thousands of dogs, based solely upon what they look like. Cultivate compassion for all creatures. Animals depend on us to make the right decisions for them. Care for them as you would want to be cared for, with kindness and respect.
We dedicate our ‘In Memory of’ page to Kingston, in the hopes that his life and death will bring us all closer to allowing our lives to be guided by compassion and giving.

Animal Abuser Registry Moves Forward

A bill to establish a publicly accessible statewide registry of people convicted of felony cruelty to animals, introduced Monday in California, would, if passed, be the nation's first such registry. And proponents hope it will spawn similar legislation in more states.
To capitalize on the buzz surrounding the California bill, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has launched a website — — with data and model legislation to prompt grass-roots efforts to get more animal-abuser registry laws passed.

"The idea is to protect a vulnerable population at risk of abuse," much as sex offender registries warn communities of sexual predators in the area, so the public, shelters and law enforcement can work together to keep animals safer, the fund's Stephan Otto says.
Bills similar to the one in California have been proposed in Rhode Island, Colorado and Tennessee, though none became law. But this year there's confidence about passage, partly because it's favored by California's Senate majority leader, Dean Florez, and because "this is an example of law catching up with society's values," Otto says.
"Cruelty against animals is happening every hour of every day," says Joyce Tischler, the fund's co-founder. Studies link such abuse with violence against humans, so monitoring animal abusers can be vital to public safety, she says.
Still, such registries aren't universally applauded. Opponents have many concerns, says Randall Lockwood, a cruelty expert at the ASPCA. Among them: Is it fair to offenders who have served their sentences to wear a life-long label? Will offenders plead guilty to a lesser offense to avoid registry inclusion?
"An upside is that a registry enlists the public in the monitoring process," he says. But many worry "a spirit of public vigilantism" could arise, prompting people to "take revenge on an offender who in their minds has not been suitably punished by the legal system."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

United States Armed Forces - Covering Up F**K-Ups Since 1778

Colorado Springs, CO -  23 year old Jackson Czechowicz, a United States Army soldier just returned from a tour in Iraq, was arrested by Colorado Springs Police on Monday afternoon after a neighbor had called saying that Czechowicz had beheaded a dog in his backyard after kicking it fiercely with his boots.

The neighbor admits to peeping from his upstairs window and says that he saw Czechowicz drag the dog outside and kick and beat him for a few moments before he: "Reached down in one clean motion and severed his head with a few hard hacks from what appeared to be a combat knife." Says the witness.

Police were skeptical until the body and weapon were discovered in the suspect's dumpster, wrapped in trash bags. Czechowicz was arrested for aggravated animal cruelty and neglect and appeared before a county court judge early Wednesday morning.

Jackson spent his speaking time whining and complaining to the judge that: "It was his dog and he did as he pleased with it." He further went on to state that: "He didn't understand what the big deal was." The judge did note that Jackson has had TWO previous complaints of animal abuse and neglect filed against him by neighbors and friends and has had a previous conviction for assaulting the child of a girlfriend three years ago.

(Here's the REAL kicker:)

Czechowicz has opted to fire his court appointed attorney in favor of a US Armed Forces Legal Aide that has taken his case. Their first move? Dismiss the charges claiming that Czechowicz is suffering from PTSD from his tour overseas and should be given special consideration for his veteran status.

Essentially, the US Army is asking a civilian court (with every jurisdictional right) to dismiss this case and let him go because he's one of their own. They state that: "He will be dealt with by our own courts and manner of justice."

If that isn't the most egotistical, self-serving load of crap that has even been told...

We at CLAWS feel that this isn't right. This man should NOT be given special consideration for his status (when it comes to committing crimes) and should HAVE TO ANSWER to the law LIKE ANYONE ELSE would. We are aware that the US Armed Forces have had a long history of training men to think with a "Gun and God Complex" frame of mind and simply have had enough.

Please sign the petition to see to it that he not be released to courtmartial by a sympathetic group of friends and spends time in a civilian jail where he WILL NOT be given special treatment. The link is below.

Please take a moment to join us and be "1000 Hearts United." It's free, takes very little time and together we can help stamp out animal abuse wherever it may exist. Click here: Join Here

Monday, February 22, 2010

And A Child Shall Show Us The Way.....

This is a letter from 8 year old Caeleigh Nelson to the Canadian Prime Minister regarding her thoughts on conservation:

It is 4 pages long.

It's truly amazing to me that an 8 year old child can see the problems with our world and yet our "adult" elected leaders cannot.

Animal Abuser Registry?

SAN FRANCISCO — California may soon place animal abusers on the same level as sex offenders by listing them in an online registry, complete with their home addresses and places of employment.

The proposal, made in a bill introduced Friday by the State Senate’s majority leader, Dean Florez, would be the first of its kind in the country and is just the latest law geared toward animal rights in a state that has recently given new protections to chickens, pigs and cattle.
Mr. Florez, a Democrat who is chairman of the Food and Agriculture Committee, said the law would provide information for those who “have animals and want to take care of them,” a broad contingent in California, with its large farming interests and millions of pet owners. Animal protection is also, he said, a rare bipartisan issue in the state, which has suffered bitter partisan finger-pointing in the wake of protracted budget woes.
“We have done well with these laws,” he said.
Last fall, California became the first state to outlaw so-called tail-docking of dairy cows, where the tail is partly amputated to ease milking. In 2008, voters in the state passed Proposition 2, which gave hens, calves and pigs more room in their crates or cages. That law has upset many in the California egg industry and prompted some agriculturally-minded residents to even talk about seceding from the state.
Under Mr. Florez’s bill, any person convicted of a felony involving animal cruelty would have to register with the police and provide a range of personal information and a current photograph. That information would be posted online, along with information on the person’s offense.
The bill was drafted with help from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an animal-protection group based in Cotati, Calif., north of San Francisco. The group has promoted the registry not only as a way to notify the public but also as a possible early warning system for other crimes.
“We know there’s a link between those who abuse animals and those who perform other forms of violence,” said Stephan Otto, the group’s director of legislative affairs. “Presumably if we’re able to track animal abusers and be able to know where they live, there will be less opportunity where those vulnerable to them would be near them.”
In addition to sex offenders, California lists arsonists in an online registry, and the animal abusers would be listed on a similar site, Mr. Florez said. Such registries have raised privacy concerns from some civil libertarians, but Joshua Marquis, a member of the defense fund’s board and the district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore., said the worries were unfounded.
“Does it turn that person into a pariah? No,” Mr. Marquis said. “But it gives information to someone who might be considering hiring that person for a job.”
He added: “I do not think for animal abusers it’s unreasonable considering the risk they pose, much like the risk that people who abuse children do.”
One supporter of the proposed law, Gillian Deegan, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Botetourt County, Va., says such a registry could also be valuable in tracking people who run puppy mills and animal-fighting rings, as well as hoarders, who sometimes collect hundreds of animals, often resulting in neglect.
“A lot of times these people will just pick up and move to another jurisdiction or another state if they get caught,” said Ms. Deegan, who has written on animal welfare laws. “It would definitely help on those types of cases where people jump around.” One Web site — — already offers a type of online registry, with listings of animal offenders and their crimes.
Such registries have been introduced in other states, but never passed. In 2008, a similar bill in Tennessee stalled after passing the State Senate.
That legislation was endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States, said Wayne Pacelle, the president and chief executive of the society.
Mr. Pacelle said that the proposed financing mechanism for the California bill, a small tax on pet food, was “an extremely controversial idea” and unpopular with the pet food industry.
Taxes are usually opposed by Republicans in California, and that gives Mr. Pacelle doubts about the bill’s prospects.
“The idea of that succeeding in this climate in California is not high,” he said.
But the bill’s sponsor, Mr. Florez, who recently helped establish an Animal Protection Caucus, which includes Republican members of the State Senate and Assembly, says he is confident that he has the votes to move the measure forward and estimates that the registry would cost less than $1 million to establish. He also said his background — he hails from the farming-friendly Central Valley — will help the cause.
“I think people think, well, if Dean is supporting it,” he said, “it can’t be that off the wall.”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Canine Police Officer Starves His Family Dog To Death

The jury trial of a fired Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority K-9 officer charged with starving his family dog to death has been rescheduled to 9 a.m., Monday, April 26, in Wareham District Court.
A hearing on the defense's motion to suppress evidence in the case of fired MBTA K-9 officer Antonio Carneiro, 43, was heard before Judge Thomas Barrett in Wareham District Court on Jan. 8. The judge gave the prosecution and defense 10 days to supply the court with photographs taken by Rochester Police during a January 2009 visit to Carneiro’s 373 County Road property.
 Judge Barrett said that he would rule on the motion as quickly as he could after receiving the photographs. As of Thursday, Feb. 4, he had not yet issued his ruling. The trial had been scheduled for Monday, Feb. 8. However, on Friday, Feb. 5, the case was continued to April 26.
 Carneiro faces one count of felony animal cruelty in the death of his family pet, Nitro, a six-year-old Belgian Malinois breed, whose emaciated remains were found in an isolated area of Carneiro’s Rochester property. A Tufts University Veterinary School autopsy confirmed that the cause of Nitro’s death was starvation.
 Following Carneiro’s Feb. 26, 2009 arrest, he was fired from his job as a canine police officer for the MBTA. Carneiro, a civil servant, is appealing his firing. He remains free on personal recognizant.
If convicted, Carneiro faces five years in a state prison, or two and half years in a county house of correction, a fine of not more than $2,500, or both the fine and imprisonment.

Frozen Dog Found, Woman Charged with Animal Cruelty

An Omaha woman is facing a felony charge of animal cruelty after police say she left her dog to die.
The Nebraska Humane Society says they found the German Shepard on February 1st, frozen to the floor of his dog house.
The house had to be taken apart to get the dog out.
An examination showed the dog, named Tramp, died of starvation and hypothermia.
An investigation also determined the dog had been chained in the backyard for up to 2 weeks with no food, water, and inadequate shelter.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dog Rape spurs action in Alaska

Alaska and Florida consider bans on bestiality

JUNEAU, Alaska — It's a subject that can cause nervous snickering, a little uneasiness and even a few bad jokes.
But many in the southeast Alaska community of Klawock, population 800, weren't laughing last April after a 26-year-old registered sex offender was accused of molesting a local family's pet dog.
The man was spotted by a local woman coaxing the Labrador retriever into the woods near a ball field. There he allegedly tied it to a tree, taped its muzzle shut with duct tape and had sex with it, witnesses told police at the time.
The man had been twice convicted of raping a young boy and more recently had served probation for assault after lunging at a child. While the incident with the dog was reported to the police, Klawock Mayor Don Marvin said nothing happened for two days while fearful parents escorted their children home from school.
"When this incident happened, we had a community that was scared," Marvin said.
Because Alaska has no law against such an attack, Ketchikan District Attorney James Scott eventually charged the man with two counts of criminal mischief, which was later changed to a theft charge.
In requesting a $10,000 bail, Scott told the court that the state was concerned that if a small child had been available and unattended that day, "the small child would have been found taped (and) tied in the woods."
State Rep. Bob Lynn, an Anchorage Republican, wants to make Alaska the 36th state to ban bestiality by expanding the state's animal cruelty law to include sexual conduct. His bill would make the offense a class A misdemeanor that's punishable by up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Other states are also moving to ban bestiality. In Florida, a bill that would make sex with animals punishable by up to five years in prison has been unanimously approved by two Senate committees and has two other committee stops before reaching the full chamber.
Florida Sen. Nan Rich, a Democrat, has a thick folder in her office containing news clippings of cases around the state of people having sex with animals. While the act is sickening enough, she says research has shown that people who molest animals are likely to rape or molest people.
"There's quite a number of cases," said Rich, holding up an article. "This one is, unfortunately, a man having sex with his guide dog. This is about a goat's death, a female goat in Walton County that had been sexually assaulted. Unfortunately it's not an isolated incident. We need a mechanism to prosecute."
The Walton County case in 2006 helped bring the problem to light. There were at least four goat rapes in Mossy Head, including one that resulted in the animal dying. Instead of being charged with a sex act, a suspect was charged with stealing two goats, said Dee Thompson, the director of Panhandle Animal Welfare Society.
Authorities in Tallahassee, Fla., also struggled in 2005 to find charges that would fit against a blind man accused of having sex with his guide dog. The man was initially charged with felony animal cruelty, but prosecutors dropped that charge and recharged him with "breach of the peace."
In Tennessee, bestiality was banned in 2007. Arizona did so in 2006 after a Mesa deputy fire chief was accused of bestial acts with his next-door neighbor's lamb. Washington state also banned sex with animals in 2006, after a man died of a perforated colon from having sex with a horse on a farm in rural King County.
In Alaska, Lynn's measure is backed by the Department of Corrections, the Alaska Farm Bureau, the Humane Society of the United States and the Alaska Peace Officers Association.
Rachel Dzuiba, a veterinarian at the Gastineau Humane Society in Juneau, said it would not only protect animals but also protect the public against a cycle of abuse and violence.
"The act of forcing a living creature to engage in a sexual activity without the ability of consent cannot simply be viewed as a personal choice — no more than forcing a child or an impaired adult would be," Dzuiba told the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing Friday.
The society's executive director, Chava Lee, said she has received several complaints at the Juneau animal shelter about sexual deviancy against animals.
"In each case that has come to my attention, coercion, abuse, threat of physical harm or terrorizing a human during the practice of a sexual assault on an animal was present," Lee said.
According to the national Humane Society, several studies highlight the link between the sexual assault of animals and sex crimes against humans, including:
— FBI research on the backgrounds of serial sexual homicide perpetrators that uncovered high rates of sexual assault of animals;
— A report in the Journal of Forensic Psychiatry that said twenty percent of children who sexually abuse other children also have histories of sexually abusing animals; and
— A Utah State University study showing 37 percent of sexually violent juvenile offenders have a history of animal sexual assault.
The committee also heard testimony from Klawock Chief of Police Cullen Fowler who said the dog that had been allegedly assaulted did not require veterinary care but appeared to have suffered.
Fowler said the pressure of the taped muzzle cause blood vessels to burst in its eyes and the dog was sensitive to the touch, jumpy and afraid for a long time after the incident.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Man starves animals to the point of cannibalism

Man arrested for animal cruelty

MANATEE — An 86-year-old man was arrested Saturday on animal cruelty charges for the third time since 2002, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Web site.
Felipe Munoz, of Bradenton, remained in jail late Saturday night without bond.
Details were not readily available for Munoz’s latest arrest by Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

Munoz, who was previously convicted of animal cruelty after a May 2007 incident, was found guilty after he left animals outside without water or food. Deputies found multiple dead chickens on the ground and in cages in the 4800 block of Wauchula Road in Myakka City.
Deputies also discovered pigs eating off what appeared to be the corpse of another pig. Also, deputies had to tranport 10 pigs, 19 goats and six sheep away from the property because of their poor condition.
In that incident, Munoz was told “this action cannot continue.”
He was sentenced to serve 45 days in jail on the weekends, according to court records.
In a 2002 incident, he was accused of not giving animals enough air, food, water and exercise according to court documents.
He was found guilty of four counts, according to court records.
Munoz has also violated his probation, according to records.
Last month, he failed to check in with probation officers.


Friday, February 5, 2010

C.L.A.W.S is Seeking Members!

February 2010 Newsletter

Hello once again to everyone out there on the web!  
I am very happy to report that as of today, C.L.A.W.S is ready to begin accepting new members. We have decided on the simplest way to accomplish this in 3 steps:

1. Sign up to follow the blog.
2. Check back regularly for news updates.
3. Respond to your welcome email that is sent when you join. That's it!

Our members will receive only the freshest news and updates on animal welfare stories from around the world to here in our own backyard.  In addition, members will be invited to participate in all of the inner workings of the organization from submission and discussion of new ideas down to attending a very large (peaceful) animal rights demonstration that is planned for Summer of '010.

We thank you for your support but most importantly, every creature that currently suffers in agony also thanks you.....    for giving them a voice.

Check back soon!


5 worst states to be an animal: Abuse laws lax

5 worst states to be an animal: Abuse laws lax

Report: Idaho, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota have weak laws

What's the punishment for being cruel to an animal? In five states — Idaho, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Dakota — the law’s response is, “Not much.”
Those five states have the weakest animal protection laws in the nation, according to a recent report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization based in Cotati, Calif. The report says the states' failings include not requiring owners provide basic animal care such as adequate food and water, no requirement for mental health evaluations or counseling for those convicted of animal abuse and no restrictions on future ownership of animals following a conviction.
Three of the five states do not consider cruelty, neglect or abandonment a felony. And of the five, only North Dakota regards all animal fighting as a felony, not just dog fighting.

People in these states aren’t more likely to mistreat their animals, says Stephan Otto, ALDF’s director of legislative affairs and author of the report, but the laws haven’t caught up with society’s values.
“Most people treat their animals wonderfully, but the question is whether there are appropriate penalties when they don’t,” he said.
In Mississippi, for instance, the penalties for neglect and dog fighting are the same: a fine of between $10 and $100 or jail time for between 10 and 100 days. Someone who maliciously injures or kills a dog or cat cannot be fined more than $1,000 or imprisoned for more than six months. The only restitution required is the replacement value of the animal, plus the cost of any veterinary fees or other expenses incurred. By contrast, in California, one of the states with tougher penalties, dog fighting is punishable by imprisonment for 16 months to three years, a maximum fine of $50,000 or both.
Kentucky vets not allowed to report abuse
In Kentucky, veterinarians are prohibited from reporting suspected cruelty or fighting, an unintended consequence of a law mandating client confidentiality. Otto says a bill was recently introduced to rectify the problem.
States that are soft on crimes toward animals often have an agricultural lobby that may see animal protection issues as potentially limiting options for farmers, says Francis Battista, a founder and director of Best Friends Animal Society, a non-profit organization based in Kanab, Utah. When animal issues come up, they tend to be put on the back burner in favor of human issues. Cultural or traditional attitudes can also affect the way people relate to animals and the willingness to adopt animal protection laws, he says. People in southern and western states can have an independent mindset that precludes being told how to treat their property, including animals.
In 2009, when a Mississippi man tied his dog to a tree, set her on fire and let her burn to death, it was considered only a misdemeanor. He was fined $1,000 and given a six-month sentence. Last month, the Mississippi legislature introduced a bill that would increase the penalty for acts of cruelty toward dogs and cats. If passed, people convicted of cruelty could go to prison for up to five years and pay a fine of $10,000.
Beyond greater penalties, there are other consequences to being convicted of a felony rather than a misdemeanor, Otto says.

“Those convicted of felonies will usually serve their sentences in a state or federal prison rather than a local, city or county jail," he says. "A felon will also have more restrictions on their rights than a person convicted of a misdemeanor. In many states, convicted felons cannot serve on juries. They may also lose their right to vote or to practice certain professions, such as lawyer or teacher. Felons may also be prohibited from owning guns or serving in the military.”
Arkansas, which was once ranked at the bottom of the ALDF's annual report, improved its standing last year after the state’s attorney general brought together people from agricultural and animal protection organizations and hammered out an agreement that included a felony penalty for torture, including starving, and neglect, improved the definition of care, and provided for mental health evaluations and counseling. People who commit animal cruelty in the presence of a minor face stronger penalties.
“It catapulted them from the very bottom to the middle,” Otto says.
Many states are taking steps to offer better legal protection for animals, including mandates for mental health evaluations, counseling or restrictions on animal ownership for people who are convicted of animal cruelty. Those are important because people who commit crimes against animals frequently repeat them.
There’s also a strong connection between animal abuse and other types of violence, particularly domestic violence, a link that has been shown in many studies. A 1997 study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Northeastern University found that those who had committed a violent crime against an animal were five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people. When animal abuse is addressed early, before it becomes a habit, it can help to reduce overall violence in a community, Otto says.

“We think it’s incumbent that the mental health angle of this is addressed in laws,” Otto says. “A lot of states too are looking at prohibiting those convicted of animal cruelty and neglect from owning animals for a certain period of time after conviction. We think that’s another helpful tool to break the cycle of abuse and potentially eliminate new victims.”
Better definitions of care provide a baseline for pet owners to meet as well as objective criteria for law enforcement to know whether the law has been violated. But in the end, enforcement is key.
“You can have the best laws on the books, but if you’re lacking enforcement, they’re not worth anything,” Otto says.
Second chance for abused animals
The good news is that animals are resilient, Battista says. Whether they have suffered neglect, abandonment or overt physical abuse, they have an amazing ability to respond to rehabilitation efforts.

He would know. Best Friends took in 22 of the 47 dogs rescued from the estate of Michael Vick after he was arrested and charged with conspiracy to engage in dog fighting in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. Many were so shut down and unresponsive due to the abuse they'd suffered that they that they would have been euthanized if Best Friends hadn’t taken them, says spokesperson Barbara Williamson. Because of judicial requirements regarding their placement, only a few are in adoptive homes so far, but the rest are at Best Friends or in foster care and all are making progress. Only one is considered aggressive toward people, Williamson says, and even she is now friendly if introduced by someone she trusts. She will stay at Best Friends for the rest of her life.
“Animals are survivors, like people, and they will take every opportunity to respond to help,” Battista says. “Depending on what category of abuse you’re talking about, the way we rehabilitate and the time for rehabilitation might be different. Some animals are never going to be lap cats or lap dogs, but they’ll always improve and they’ll always respond. It’s simply a matter of time and patience.”

Animal officer accused of shooting, dumping dogs pleads guilty.

Animal officer accused of shooting, dumping dogs pleads guilty

TROY, N.Y. -- A Hoosick Falls animal control officer accused of killing dogs and dumping them on his property has pleaded guilty to the charges.
Matt Beck pleaded guilty to four animal cruelty charges in court Thursday night.
He was arrested last March after police found several decomposed dogs buried on his property.
He now faces three years probation, ten days with an ankle bracelet, and two weekends in jail.