CT Veterinarian Facing Animal Cruelty Charges Returns To Work

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Not too long ago, I wrote a very disturbing post about a Connecticut veterinarian charged with animal cruelty and third-degree larceny in connection with his “treatment” of a dog named Monster.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I’ve been away since then, and just returned to work today. While going through my google alerts, this morning,  I learned that the veterinarian in question has also returned to work while his case winds its way through the courts. And while I understand that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and everyone is entitled to due process, the thought of this man being allowed near another animal, much less being allowed to “treat” another animal disgusts me.

To recap, Dr. Dr. Amr Wasfi of Black Rock Animal Hospital in Bridgeport is accused of:

  • Lying about Monster’s condition
  • Performing unnecessary surgery
  • Failing to provide Monster with adequate food and water
  • Keeping Monster in the hospital for a prolonged period
  • Refusing to let Monster’s owner see the dog while Monster was at the hospital
  • Charging Monster’s owner for the unnecessary surgery

Wasfi is also accused of abusing a kitten that was in his care. According to someone who allegedly witnessed the incident, Wasfi “hit a kitten that was under anesthesia so hard that the kitten’s intestines popped out of an incision.” The same witness said Wasfi was “agitated” and that he “threw surgical tools around the room.”

The witness was reportedly fired from the animal hospital after confiding to another employee that she planned to report the matter.

The initial court appearance

Wasfi was arrested last month, but posted a $10,000 bond and was released. Then, on May 8, he reportedly entered no plea to the charges. During Wasfi’s appearance that day, Superior Court Judge William Holden also granted Wasfi’s lawyer’s request to continue the matter until June 7 so the attorney could have more to time to “examine the evidence.”

Since then, Bridgeport police have warned the public not to take their pets to Black Rock Animal Hospital.

“We just want the public to be aware that if they were considering bringing their animals here, just to understand some of the criminal charges we uncovered here,” Bridgeport Police Capt. Brian Fitzgerald told the media.

Scary details about Wasfi’s past emerge

Published reports have also provided some valuable — and frightening — insight into Wasfi’s past. Specifically, they show that this is not the first time he’s been in trouble. Apparently, he had his license revoked in 1996, when the Connecticut Board of Veterinary Medicine found him guilty of “unskillfulness toward an animal.” His license was reinstated in 2003 contingent upon the successful completion of a five-year probationary period.He reportedly completed his probation on April 30, 2008.

Fast-forward to this year when, as the press reports, Connecticut authorities spent months investigating Wasfi prior to his arrest. The investigation stemmed from numerous complaints “about pets whose conditions worsened instead of improving after being treated by the veterinarian.”

Now, maybe some of you don’t think it’s fair to rush to judgment. Maybe some of you don’t believe in convicting someone in the court of public opinion without knowing all of the facts. Maybe some of you actually believe in second chances. Sometimes, I do, too. But not in this case.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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Staggering Allegations Made Against CT Veterinarian

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In the United States of America, all new veterinarians take the following oath:

“Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.”

But apparently some of them don’t take it seriously.

According to a recent news report, Dr. Amr Wasfi, a Bridgeport, Connecticut, veterinarian, was supposed to appear in court on Wednesday. He is facing animal cruelty and third-degree larceny charges based on his “treatment” of a dog named Monster.

The accusations are detailed in an arrest warrant and shared on an NBC affiliate’s website. As set forth in the warrant, Monster’s owner took him to the vet when he noticed Monster limping. That was on February 14, and the initial diagnosis was a sprained knee. Apparently, Wasfi prescribed some pain medicine and sent the dog home.

But when Monster hadn’t improved a week later, his owner brought him back to Black Rock Animal Hospital, where Wasfi again assessed the dog’s condition. This time, the diagnosis was a fractured pelvis. Monster’s owner learned that surgical intervention would be required, and Monster would have to stay at the hospital for five days (until March 7).

A stunning revelation

As NBC’s Connecticut affiliate reports, Monster’s owner told the authorities he contacted the vet that day, only to be told his dog couldn’t come home — yet. Instead, he was allegedly told, Monster had to “stay a few more days for monitoring.” Apparently, Monster’s repeated requests to see his dog after that were denied.  According to the warrant, he finally contacted Animal Control and retrieved Monster on March 25.

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Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

According to the warrant, Monster’s owner then discovered that his dog, who 63 pounds prior to his stay at Black Rock Animal Hospital, had lost 17 pounds.

Monster’s owner then took him to the Emergency Room at Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine. That’s when he learned that Monster never had a fracture and he never needed operation, which included putting a screw in Monster’s pelvis. One of the veterinarians that treated Monster at Central Hospital For Veterinary Medicine also told police that Monster was being treated for “refeeding syndrome” and dehydration. Police then learned that the treatment is warranted when “an animal is without proper food or water for at least 10 days.”

To make matters even worse, Monster’s owner also told police Wasfi charged him more than $3,000 for Monster’s operation.

An emerging pattern?

As NBC Connecticut also reports, that wasn’t the only complaint lodged against Wasfi. A former Black Rock employee apparently reported that she “witnessed Wasfi hit a kitten that was under anesthesia so hard that the kittens intestines popped out of an incision.” As documented in the warrant, the same complainant  also said that Wasfi was “agitated” and threw surgical tools around the room.”

The warrant also indicates she confided in a co-worker and said she planned to file a complaint. She also told police she planned to resign the next day, but when she showed up for work the employee with whom she shared her concerns greeted her at the door, in gave her a box of her belongings, and informed her she had been fired.

At this point, Wasfi also faces an uncertain fate. In addition to the criminal charges he is currently facing, he will likely face disciplinary action by the Connecticut State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Sec. 20-202(2) of Chapter 384 of the Connecticut General Statutes specifically states that the board can discipline a licensed veterinarian when there is proof that: “the holder of such license or certificate has become unfit or incompetent or has been guilty of cruelty, unskillfulness or negligence towards animals and birds.”

Sec. 20-202(3) of CGS Chapter 384 also authorizes the board to take disciplinary action based upon: “conviction of the violation of any of the provisions of this chapter by any court of criminal jurisdiction.”

However, the board cannot take any disciplinary action as long as the appeal of such a conviction is pending, or if the conviction is overturned on appeal.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

There Is No Punishment Harsh Enough In Kitten Drowning Case

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As many of you know I was a police reporter for more than 20 years. In my career I covered everything from the aftermath of 9/11 in the New York City suburbs to homicides, courthouse shootings and airplane crashes. So I’ve seen a lot of nasty stuff. To this day, I can’t forget those things. I never will.

And to this day, nothing makes my blood boil more than an animal cruelty case. As far as I’m concerned, there is no punishment harsh enough for anyone who deliberately hurts or kills an animal. I mean think about it. If someone is sick and twisted enough to hurt or kill an animal, they probably won’t think twice about hurting or killing a human being.

Alleged kitten killer arrested

So if what I recently about Junsong Zhang, 21, of Queens, New York, is actually true, they should just lock him up and get rid of the key. Now.

According to published reports, Zhang killed two kittens on January 22, 2019. He allegedly did so by putting them in a cage, putting the cage in the bathtub, turning on the tap, and leaving for nearly an hour.

As Zhang reportedly told authorities, the animals were “lying in the water and not breathing.” So he allegedly put them in a plastic bag and took them to the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

In a criminal complaint cited by the New York Daily News, a forensic veterinarian said both kittens were “healthy, and that one kitten had torn nails on its right front paw, left front paw and right back paw.”

A postmortem assessment confirmed that the kittens had drowned. They were just seven months old.

New York City prosecutors told the media that Zhang intended to “cause extreme physical pain” to the animals. As a result, he was arrested earlier this month and charged with two counts of aggravated animal cruelty.

Zhang was reportedly “released under supervision” and ordered to surrender his passport pending future court appearances.

Possible punishment upon conviction

Under Section 353-a of New York’s Agriculture and Markets Law, someone is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals when he or she, “intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal with aggravated cruelty.” In this context, aggravated cruelty is defined as conduct that: “(i) is intended to cause extreme physical pain;  or (ii) is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.”

Aggravated cruelty to animals is a felony in New York. The maximum punishment upon conviction is two years in prison.

And as far as I’m concerned, that’s just not good enough.

End Dogfighting In Connecticut Now

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Anyone who knows me at all knows I have a temper. Anyone who knows me at all also knows that I have absolutely, positively, no tolerance whatsoever for criminal activity targeting children, the elderly, or animals.

So imagine how I felt when I read a January 21 article on ctpost.com detailing the prevalence of dogfighting in Connecticut. Let’s just say I wasn’t very happy. In fact, it made my blood boil.

As far as I’m concerned, there is no place for this vicious, cruel, and barbaric activity at all — much less in the 21st century. The time to end it is now.

The harsh reality of dogfighting in Connecticut

Jessica Rubin, a state animal advocate and UConn law professor quoted in the article,  has researched dogfighting charges in Connecticut. While doing so, she  found that 110 people were charged with “dogfighting related offenses” here between 2007 and 2017.

Among other things, Rubin told ctppost.com that  there were no charges in some years and multiple charges in others. She also noted that the activity seems to be most prevalent in areas with the greatest population densities.

“The issues include extreme cruelty, criminal behavior, gambling, giving dogs unauthorized medicines and violence,” Rubin said. “Children are exposed to the offenses and it compounds the dogfighting.”

One of the many dogs available for adoption at a local shelter a few years ago.

Meanwhile, dogs that are lucky enough to survive and escape their ordeal, “usually end up in shelters around the state in hopes that law-abiding dog lovers will adopt them and end their nightmare with care and love.”

And then there are those who aren’t so fortunate.

“When they’re no longer profitable to dog fighters — or if they don’t show enough ‘fighting spirit’— they’re typically killed in atrocious ways, including by being used as ‘bait dogs,’ drowned, electrocuted, beaten or hanged,” Martin Mersereau, vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told ctpost.com. “There are no winners in this sickening blood sport, only abject criminals who represent the very worst of human nature,” Mersereau added.

Freedom’s story

Two years ago, someone found a badly wounded dog — later named Freedom by rescuers —  “wandering on Brushy Plains Road in Branford covered in scars and injuries.”

His story is also chronicled in the ctpost.com article.

According to the account, officials at the Branford Animal Shelter concluded the wounds were the result of dogfighting. They also determined that  Freedom whose teeth were filed down so he couldn’t inflict damage on other dogs,  was probably used as a “bait” dog. As such, it would have been his “job” to  trigger attacks by combatants.

“Based on the wounds, this dog definitely took the brunt of whatever has been going on,” shelter director Laura Burban then told the New Haven Register. “What we can see is that it looks like his feet were tied together and he was used as the bait dog for other dogs to attack him,” she said.

Freedom is not alone…

Currently, dogfighting is not only illegal throughout the United States, but it is also a felony  in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Even so, Freedom’s story is not unique.

According to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) statistics cited in the ctpost.com story, there are tens of thousands of dog fight organizers across the country that force hundreds of thousands of dogs to brutally train and fight for sport.

Over the last eight years, the organization says, it has assisted with 200 dogfighting cases in 24 states and has helped rescue and investigate nearly 5,000 victims of dogfighting.

Last year alone, the ASPCA says it directly rescued more than 400 animals from dogfighting rings across 12 states.

“Through our extensive work with law enforcement agencies nationwide, we know that organized dogfighting is taking place in every type of community across the country, causing unimaginable pain and suffering for the animals involved,” Stacy Wolf, senior vice president of ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group told ctpost.com.

And that is unacceptable.

The Efficacy Of U.S. Pet Protection Laws

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As most of you know, I am passionate about two aspects of the law. One is animal law and the other is criminal law. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve done a lot of posts on both topics in this forum.

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Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Specifically, I have written about the steps that state lawmakers across the United States have taken to protect companion animals and punish the people who abuse, hoard and neglect them. I must admit, there have been a lot of positive developments since I created this website and started posting here in 2015.

But of course, that’s just my opinion. Let’s see what the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has to say about the implementation and efficacy of animal protection laws across the United States as of 2018.

How the states were judged

Last month, the ALDF released its annual Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report , which includes “the best and worst US states and territories when it comes to animal protection.”

Along with the results, American Veterinarian.com published an article explaining how the states were judged. As reported on that website, the ALDF’s criteria included “19 aspects of animal protection, including 5 new categories: the definition of ‘animal,’ courtroom animal advocate programs, laws that allow individuals to rescue dogs from hot parked cars, civil nuisances abatement, and breed-specific legislation.”

Based on its assessment, the ALDF determined that the U.S. as a whole is making progress — but there is still room for improvement.

“Every year, we see more states enacting broader legal protections for animals,” ALDF’s Executive Director Stephen Wells told American Veterinarian.com. “We have a long way to go until animals are fully protected under the legal system as they deserve, especially in the lowest-ranked states.…But as this year’s Ranking Report shows, step by step we as a nation are improving how the law treats animals.”

How the states ranked

Starting with the good news, the top states were:

  1. Illinois
  2. Oregon
  3. Maine
  4. Colorado
  5. Massachusetts

“With the creation of laws banning the sexual assault of animals, Louisiana (7) and Massachusetts (5) were among the most improved states in 2018. Besides Massachusetts, each of the 5 best states has remained consistent with the previous years,” the American Veterinarian.com article notes.

On the other hand, these were the states that ranked near or at the bottom of the list:

46. New Mexico
47. Wyoming
48. Iowa
49. Mississippi
50. Kentucky

Of particular concern is the lack of progress in Kentucky, which was ranked last for the second consecutive year. Specifically, the ALDF’s 2018 report found that, despite its allowance for increased penalties for repeat abusers and/or animal hoarders, Kentucky has not made any significant changes in the following areas:

  • Adequate definitions or standards of basic care
  • Restriction of animal ownership after a conviction
  • Mandatory forfeiture of animals upon conviction

One of the most obvious deficiencies in Kentucky’s animal safety regulations is its lack in felony penalties for animal cruelty (including neglect, sexual assault, or abandonment). Furthermore, Kentucky is still the only state that precludes veterinarians from reporting suspected animal cruelty, abuse, or fighting.

To make matters worse, there are no statutory provisions for post-conviction restitution or forfeiture, except in cases involving horses. In other words, owners who have harmed their pet don’t have to surrender it — so they really aren’t being held fully accountable for their actions.

Why do we need animal protection laws?

Of course, there are plenty of people who don’t like animals — and to them all of this is pointless. In most cases, they argue that people are more important, and lawmakers should concentrate on addressing “more important issues” like healthcare, gun violence and climate change.

Personally, I have a different perspective — one gained during 21 years covering cops and courts in three states. You see, I have written about my share of violent crime. And I know for a fact that the types of people who commit these acts have no qualms about harming animals to begin with.

So, yes animal protection laws do matter. In fact they matter a lot.

Federal Lawmakers Seek Animal Cruelty Ban

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“a bipartisan pair of congressional lawmakers from Florida is trying to close a gaping loophole in federal law.”

If there’s one thing I won’t discuss in this forum, it’s politics. For one thing, I hate politics. For another, it’s too risky to discuss politics in the context of work — and since this is my business website — well, the less said, the better.

Having said that, of course there are exceptions to every rule. And the only exception I’ll make to the one I just mentioned is that I’ll continue to write about local, state and federal legislation when our duly elected representatives actually do something constructive. Believe it or not, that actually happens every once in a while.

A case in point

Take a recent New York Times article about federal efforts to crack down on animal abusers by creating a new bill called the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act. In it, the author, Niraj Chokshi explains that a “a bipartisan pair of congressional lawmakers from Florida is trying to close a gaping loophole in federal law.”

As it now stands, anyone who documents (records) themselves abusing an animal can be charged under federal law. However, they will not face federal charges for the actual commission of the abuse.

If the new legislation passes, however, offenders convicted of “intentionally crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise seriously harming an animal” would face federal felony charges, fines and up to seven years in prison. Within this context it is important to note that he bill “includes exceptions for, among other things, hunting, killing animals for food, scientific research, euthanizing animals, husbandry and veterinary care.”

The back story

In addition to providing a detailed explanation of the proposed legislation, Chokshi also explains why it was created.

As Chokshi tells it, the Humane Society of the United States became aware of and started looking into “crush videos,” approximately 20 years ago. In these videos, “animals are tortured or killed, often under a woman’s foot, in the service of a sexual fetish.” Objects or insects are sometimes used instead of animals in some cases, Chokshi adds.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

At any rate, the Humane Society contacted authorities after buying this type of video from someone in California, only to find that there were no adequate remedies under existing laws. Meanwhile, the documentation of animal abuse was increasing because of the Internet.

In search of answers, the then-county district attorney approached former Representative Elton Gallegly. He  in turn introduced a bill banning the production or sale of such videos. With little opposition, it was signed into law in late 1999.

“In 2010, however, the Supreme Court ruled that law unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds,” Chokshi reports.

In response, Gallegly created a new version of the bill, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which became the law that the recently introduced bipartisan legislation is designed to supplement.

Is this really necessary?

Currently, there are felony provisions in animal cruelty laws in all 50 states. So while the creation of a federal animal cruelty law may seem unnecessary, proponents say it’s an important step in the right direction.

First, as Sara Amundson, the president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the legislative and political arm of the Humane Society told the Times, it would address cases in which abused animals are taken across state lines. Secondly, it would help in cases where there are limited resources.

“It’s oftentimes the scenario where states don’t have the resources or they don’t have the knowledge in a situation to be able to carry these animal cruelty cases to prosecution,” Amundson said.

Finally, proponents hope it will serve as an effective deterrent because it is a known fact that animal abuse can often be a precursor to the commission of violent acts against people.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Is it necessary? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Connecticut gets it right with animal advocacy law

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I don’t care if people are leaving Connecticut in droves. I love it here.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I mean honestly, what’s not to love? I’ve got Long Island Sound as a summertime playground. The greatest city in the world is just a short train ride away. If I want to go to the world’s coolest flea markets, they’re just a short car ride away. The possibilities are endless…

Having said all of that, I can’t honestly say I’m always proud of living here. The state economy is a disaster. State leadership under Gov. Dannel Malloy is a joke. The cost of living is obscene. The traffic is a nightmare. The infrastructure is crumbling.

Without going into too much detail, locally things aren’t much better.

Giving credit where it’s due

But I’ve got to give Connecticut lawmakers credit for one thing… and only one thing. They definitely got it right when they came up with a bill that allows advocates with an interest and/or expertise in animal law to provide courtroom assistance in animal cruelty and neglect cases. I also applaud for Malloy for having the courage to sign it into law.

As those of you who follow this blog faithfully know, I’ve been following developments and blogging about this particular law for some time. But because it is the first of its kind in the United States, “Desmond’s Law” is now attracting national attention.

Here’s where you can learn more:

Silencing the critics

Of course there are more than a few people who don’t like or don’t care about animals. And they probably don’t think this is a good idea. I am sure they think that, at a time when criminal courts are already overburdened, humans should come first.

Well’s here’s what I have to say about that. There is clear evidence that people who are prone to hurting animals are also prone towards engaging in violence against people. So anything that can be done to stop people from hurting animals, and ensuring that they’re punished to the fullest extent of the law when they do is fine with me.

Just saying…

Connecticut’s new (kid) governor promotes animal advocacy

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I know I’ve said it before — and I’ll probably say it again. This is one of the coolest, most awesome stories I’ve come across in a long time. And this time I mean it. Really.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Apparently, Connecticut school kids recently “elected” a new governor. Or more accurately, a new “Kid Governor.” Her name is Jessica Brocksom and she’s in fifth grade.

According to published reports, the John F. Kennedy Elementary School student is the second Kid Governor elected as part of the Connecticut Public Affairs Network’s Kid Governor program.

Brocksom “defeated” six other students from Connecticut schools who submitted campaign videos this year. She secured the victory by capturing most of the 4,000 votes cast by fifth-graders from more than 40 towns.

As one Connecticut TV station reported, the key to Brocksom’s success was a timely and appealing platform.

“I just chose something that I felt very passionate about and I knew animals was one of my things because not many people pay attention to animals,” Brocksom informed the media during her first “post-election” news conference.

Among other things, Brocksom feels strongly about harsher punishments for those convicted of animal abuse.

As the newly elected Kid Governor, Brocksom will share her passion for animal advocacy with her peers beginning after her “inauguration” in January. Specifically, she will share ideas about how kids can get involved in activities to help unwanted and abused animals.

“You can just have a bin and have it like a food drive once or twice a year and you can donate a lot to an animal shelter to help with the animals that have been abused,” said Brocksom.

Organizers said the Connecticut Public Affairs Network created the Kid Governor program in order to “teach kids about civics and state government, but also about civic participation.”

Based on this year’s outcome, I’d say the program’s definitely a success. Congratulations, Jessica. And best of luck in the future. I’d say it’s looking pretty bright.

Woman Who Defies Court-Imposed Pet Ban Is Beyond Contempt

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For some strange reason, some people just don’t get it.

In a society governed by rule of law, you can’t do whatever you want.

Well, you can try. But you probably won’t get away with it. So if you do break the rules, you’d better be prepared for the consequences. Because let’s face it. Chances are you will probably get caught. You will probably be convicted. And then you will probably be punished accordingly.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

If you’re caught, tried and convicted, you might as well take your punishment like a big boy (or girl) and be done with it.

But like I said, some people just don’t get it.

For example, take this 71-year-old Maine woman who was reportedly convicted of animal cruelty. As part of her punishment, the court prohibited her from having more pets.

Apparently that doesn’t matter to her. Carol Murphy seems to think she can do whatever she wants.

As the Associated Press reported, “Murphy was convicted of animal cruelty in 2005 and was banned from having pets. She was convicted of the charge five years later, and was again barred from owning animals.”

Of course, Murphy insists she never did anything wrong. Clearly it seems she sees nothing wrong with having more pets — even though she was banned from doing so.

Yes, Carol Murphy definitely seems to hold the deeply misguided belief that she can do whatever she wants. With impunity.

Apparently someone disagrees. So she was convicted of contempt of court.

As far as I’m concerned, she’s beyond contempt. But that’s just my humble opinion.

Yes, a man actually threw a puppy off a building

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“Felony penalties for animal cruelty allow prosecutors to better prosecute offenders, because, sadly, most domestic violence cases are only prosecuted at the misdemeanor level.” — Animal Legal Defense Fund

A recent story about a Connecticut man accused of throwing a puppy off a building highlights the need for tougher animal cruelty laws and harsher penalties.

According to published reports, Shaquille McGriff, 24, of New Britain, allegedly threw a seven-month old Chihuahua off a “second-floor porch” in July. McGriff stands accused of “choking a man after an argument with a woman” and then tossing the helpless puppy “two-and-half stories in an arc that spanned about 25 feet.”

The puppy named “Munchkin” survived, but needed extensive medical care to repair a broken leg and internal injuries. Thanks to the Connecticut Humane Society, she received the necessary treatment and is now on the road to recovery. She will be made available for adoption once she is fully healed.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

In the meantime, McGriff is reportedly being held on bond while facing assault and animal cruelty charges. If convicted of the latter, his maximum sentence under Connecticut law would be five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Now I don’t know about you but as far as I’m concerned, in this case even the maximum penalty doesn’t fit the crime. Personally, I would love it if the law would allow someone far bigger and stronger than Mr. McGriff to pick him up by the scruff of the neck and throw him off a building. Now that would be a fitting punishment for someone as clearly depraved as Mr. McGriff.

Of course, the law would never allow that. But with growing awareness about the links between animal cruelty and the propensity for violence towards people, the need for tougher animal cruelty laws is clear.

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, “felony penalties for animal cruelty allow prosecutors to better prosecute offenders, because, sadly, most domestic violence cases are only prosecuted at the misdemeanor level.”

As it now stands, the situation is grim. Citing information from “studies that were published in peer-reviewed professional journals or books,” the Animal Welfare Institute shared the following on its website:

  • Multiple studies have found that from 49% to 71% of battered women reported that their pets had been threatened, harmed, and or killed by their partners.
  • In a national survey, 85% of domestic violence shelters indicated that women coming to their facilities told of incidents of pet abuse.
  • According to a survey, women in domestic violence shelters were 11 times more likely to report animal abuse by their partners than was a comparison group of women not experiencing violence.

An article on the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) website pertaining to the link between animal abuse and violent crime is also disturbing.

“Of 36 convicted multiple murderers questioned in one study, 46% admitted committing acts of animal torture as adolescents.[ii] And of seven school shootings that took place across the country between 1997 and 2001, all involved boys who had previously committed acts of animal cruelty,” the HSUS article states.

I rest my case.