Friday, November 13, 2009
Animal cruelty laws are far too lenient
Transcript of personal comment from this episode of The Web-DVM:
As I stated, this leads into my personal comment tonight, which is in regard to a sad reality that I have voiced my grievance with before: that our criminal justice system is disgustingly lenient with its punishment in animal cruelty cases. The fact that operating what was essentially a torture and death camp for innocent animals bears only misdemeanor offenses is nothing short of appalling. That sends a message to our citizens that torture and murder is evil, but when enacted on animals, is simply just naughty. It certainly does little to nothing to deter sick individuals from enacting their sadistic fantasies on innocent animals.
I find it curious that the only circumstance that makes these offenses felonies, are if the deceased animals were ultimately found to have been the property of other people. Now this sends another lovely message: torture of animals is only wrong if they are the property of other people, but strays and wild animals? No worries, torture away, there’re plenty more where they came from.
What kind of criminal justice system is this? Having grown up near New York City, and practiced veterinary medicine just 10 miles west of the town where McDonough allegedly committed these atrocities, I know that New Yorkers consider themselves the most savvy and sophisticated citizenry in the country and even the world. Yet with regard to animal cruelty, the criminal justice system is as backwards as a third world country.
You will recall that I reported on Michael Vick some time ago, that I actually supported his reinstatement back into the NFL, because he had served his time in accordance to our criminal justice system, and as such, had a right to rejoin society and make a living the only way he knows how. You may also recall, however, that I felt his penalties were a joke for the degree of his offenses.
I am not deluded into thinking that stiffer penalties will truly lead these cruel individuals to see the error of their ways. While I support affording Michael Vick the right to make a living, I still feel strongly that in his heart he is a cruel sadist. If cruelty is in someone’s heart, they are not sorry for their crimes, they are just sorry that they got caught – these leopards rarely change their spots.
However, stiffer penalties accomplish a number of positive things. First and foremost, they remove these people from society, sparing innocent animals their wrath. Next, it serves as a deterrent the perpetrators and others who share their brand of evil intent, that if you are caught, you will serve the time and be branded with the stigma of being a convicted felon. Lastly, it sends a message to all that torture of animals is not just wrong, but a serious crime against society.
So rise up, New Yorkers, and make a stand for the animals of your state. I know how most of you love and care for animals, with many of you I was privileged to have as clients in the three years I practiced in Long Island. Make your voices be heard, that you will no longer accept your laws being so tolerant of animal cruelty. And that does not just go for New Yorkers, but any other state that essentially condones animal cruelty with lax penalties for violators. Remember the enlightened words of the great Mohandas Gandhi:
"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.