Abuse has been a topic of hot debate lately, with many high profile cases popping up. While it used to be a subject that was spoken of in whispers, it has been thrust into the spotlight by national campaigns and celebrity spokespeople. With the saturation of digital recording equipment in our culture, proof of abuse is becoming much more common. Not only are we able to capture this footage of abuse, we are able to share it with who we choose.
Animal abuse often goes unpunished and stays under the radar. While animal protection is governed at a state level, there hasn’t been anything written at the federal level to protect animals from abuse since Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Animal Protection Act of 1966. Amendments have been made, but it almost exclusively applies to businesses dealing in animals and hardly touches on pets.
Each state deals with animal cruelty differently, but everyone seems to agree that it is wrong. For an issue that everyone feels the same about, should we not we have a federal law regarding these acts? This is where the disconnect between justice and punishment lies; many call for heavier prison time, or bans on owning animals, but a standard simply doesn’t exist yet.
Recently the FBI has changed how it will report crimes of animal cruelty. In the past it was a subsection of the Uniform Crime Report, which severely reduced it’s exposure. Now it’s being included in a separate section in the same style as major crimes such as murder, assault and arson. Now, this doesn’t change any laws regarding animal abuse, but it does put the issue in the spotlight and is without a doubt a step in the right direction. The Uniform Crime Report is compiled every year using data collected from over 18,000 law agencies across the country and is often the go-to when looking for crime statistics in America.
There is a hard definition of what abuse is but there is no definite sentence for committing it.
There have been many examples of public outcry when animal abuse cases surface. Recently, a video [WARNING:GRAPHIC] went viral showing Andre Robinson luring a stray cat to him and then kicking it over a fence. This incident sparked massive online debate and cries for heavier sentences. Animal rights activists are even present for his trial. The cat has since found a home and is safe.
In 2013, a man appeared at the Associated Humane Society in Tinton Falls New Jersey claiming that he had found a dog in a garbage bag covered in urine with its feet terribly matted at the side of the road (in Brick). He was featured on the news and even became a local hero. That is, until it was uncovered that he had owned the dog for over nine years and abused this dog in a vain attempt to gain fame.
Once this got out, the pendulum of internet love swung the other way and the couple were reviled by the very people who earlier showered them with praise. When their day in court came, they were found guilty of animal cruelty and sentenced to six months in jail and barred from owning animals. The ruling was obviously followed by thunderous applause in the courtroom (containing more than 100 people wearing Sammy shirts), however Kieth and Shauna Morgan appealed their sentences and received house arrest and community service respectively. Sammy is safe now.
So, who can change this?
You and your elected officials! Phone/email your congressman and senators; make sure they know you care about this and that they should too. If they don’t care about animals, let them know you’ll be voting for someone else in the next election. The Obama administration started We the People a program where once a petition reaches 100,000 signatures they must provide an official response. This has been used in many high profile cases such as the ban on Pit Bulls. The White House responded, researched the issue and found the people to be right.
New York City has created the Animal Abuse Registry; a movement that documents all convicted animal abusers and prevents them from having any contact with animals for five years. All shelters, pet shops will have to check the registry before giving an animal to anyone on the list. This is the first of it’s kind in the country, and a positive example of what we can do to protect animals. The government exists to enact the will of the people, let them know you care. Your dog can’t write an email or call your elected officials, but you can.
Let us know what you think should be done, what the penalty should be and what you’re doing to help.