When it comes to the stuff that makes me mad, I’ve learned to choose my battles. At this point, there’s little I can do about the state of my country or the state of its leadership. I can’t put an end to terrorism or injustice. And I certainly can’t do anything about human stupidity.
As much as I would love to, there’s no way that I can save all of the companion animals who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected. As much as I would love to, there’s no way that I can find and punish the people who mistreat or discard their pets without a second thought.
But for three years, I did what I little I could to help find “forever homes” for unwanted or abandoned pets by volunteering in the office at a local shelter. Although I had to stop doing so after I started In Brief Legal Writing Services, I’m still a volunteer photographer for Adopt-a-Dog in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Last weekend, I finally had a chance to visit the shelter and catch up with some old friends. I also had a chance to get the shots of the dogs that I’m sharing in this post. Hopefully these pups will soon be adopted, if they weren’t already.
In the meantime, you can learn more about Adopt-a-Dog by visiting their website. In the meantime, please feel free to let me know about shelters or rescue groups in your area that are doing great work. I’d be happy to do posts about them, too!
Every so often, I come across a story that makes me want to put my fist through the wall, or kick someone’s butt, or both. This was one of them. But at least it seems to have a happy ending.
A heartbreaking story…
Back in November, a Philadelphia cop allegedly decided he didn’t want his dog any more. So he allegedly got rid of her.
According to published reports, he just threw her away. Literally. Luckily, a Good Samaritan found her in the trash bag in a park where she was allegedly abandoned.
“The Good Samaritan and her dog came upon a garbage bag and as they got closer found a dog’s head was visible. The Good Samaritan called the PSPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement team who sent two officers to the scene to rescue the dog and bring it back to the shelter to receive the medical care it needed,” the Pennsylvania SPCA said in a March 23 press release.
Judging by the picture, her rescuers intervened in the nick of time…
With a happy ending
As Cranberry recovered from her ordeal, authorities tried to figure out exactly how she ended up in such a horrible predicament. And their efforts paid off.
Last week, Michael Long, a Philadelphia police officer, was arrested on several charges including two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
“This arrest today is the culmination of an investigation conducted by our officers and the Philadelphia Police Internal Affairs Unit,” said Nicole Wilson Director of Humane Law Enforcement. “We look forward to the opportunity to see justice through the courts in this matter.”
Regardless of the outcome, it also looks like Long will lose his job since he has reportedly been “suspended with intent to dismiss.”
Most importantly, Cranberry got adopted and has been living with her new family since December.
At a time when most Americans view companion animals as family members, authorities are cracking down on people engaged in any unscrupulous activities that are harmful to dogs and cats.
Just recently, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced sanctions against a former Westchester County pet shop owner. Schneiderman’s office has been investigating the man, Richard Doyle, for more than a year and determined that he “sold animals that had serious medical issues, despite claims of being healthy.”
As a result, Doyle can no longer sell pets in New York state. Furthermore, he must surrender all licenses associated with the sales of animals and pay $20,000 in fines. According to media accounts, customers that bought sick animals from Doyle will get most of the money.
“Disturbing cases like these reaffirm my commitment to encouraging those in search of a new pet to adopt from a local shelter, rather than purchasing an animal. This gives an animal in need a home, and gives the consumer the peace of mind that they are receiving a healthy pet,” Schneiderman said.
The Connecticut connection
In an unrelated case, Doyle pleaded guilty to five counts of animal cruelty in Connecticut. The charges reportedly stemmed from arrests at his pet store in Danbury, where he was accused of “of illegally performing surgery on and failing to provide proper care for ill animals.”
As a result, he is also banned from having “any affiliation” with pet stores or animal rescue shelters there for three years.
More than 70 dogs confiscated from NJ pet store
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the SPCA confiscated more than 70 dogs from an East Hanover pet store where the owner “allegedly failed to provide records and veterinary care for the dogs.”
The owner, identified as Vincent LoSacco in published reports, is now in trouble with the town health department in addition to being investigated by the state attorney general’s office.
In addition to the East Hanover shop, authorities have reportedly closed two of LoSacco’s pet stores in New Jersey and one in New York.
As nbcnewyork.com reports, one of the New Jersey locations closed after LoSacco was charged with 267 counts of animal cruelty late last February. The other “had also been the target of investigations and complaints.”
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.
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.
Some time ago, I blogged about Connecticut legislation drafted to permit lawyers and would-be lawyers to “represent” animals in certain cases.
Since my first post, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed the bill into law. I am now happy to report that he Act Concerning Support For Cats and Dogs that are Treated Cruelly officially took effect Oct. 1.
To refresh your memory, the law allows attorneys specializing in animal cruelty and neglect cases — and law school students with an interest in the subject — to “advocate for the interests of justice in certain proceedings involving animals.” There are three circumstances in which this can happen:
In animal cruelty or animal fighting cases
In “court proceedings stemming from an animal control officer’s seizure of a cruelly treated or neglected animal”
In “criminal cases involving the welfare or custody of cats or dogs.”
Qualified advocates (selected from lists kept by the Department of Agriculture) can now attend hearings, act as observers and provide relevant information to the judge or “fact finder.” In certain circumstances, they can also issue recommendations.
In accordance with the new law, any party involved in the case can request a special advocate’s services. The court can also appoint a special advocate.
“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.
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.
“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.
For the second time in less than a month, authorities confiscated hundreds of animals from a Tri State Area home. But this time the house was on Long Island. And this time the animals weren’t dogs. This time, the animals reportedly rescued from horrid conditions were turtles and birds.
As reported by WABC-TV in New York, the Nassau County SPCA seized the animals after personnel from its law enforcement division executed a search warrant at the Bellmore home yesterday.
On a steamy hot New York morning, authorities found some of the animals didn’t have enough water and others were malnourished. They were also deprived of fresh air and lived in dirty water, according to an account provided by an agency spokesman.
One of the animals — an alligator snapping turtle found living in the basement — belongs to a species capable of hurting people.
“That turtle could take your hand off,” Nassau County SPCA spokesman Gary Rogers told Eyewitness News.
A few weeks back, I mentioned that my cat, Eli, is extremely sensitive. And in that regard, nothing’s changed.
But I did learn something interesting the other day. Or more accurately an article in The New York Times confirmed something I’ve always suspected: animals might not understand everything we say, but they definitely understand our tone of voice.
I guess that’s why volunteers read to dogs at the ASPCA in New York City.
“As long as you read in a nice soothing voice, they enjoy it,” Hildy Benick, 69, a volunteer who has been with the reading program since shortly after it started, told the Times.
Victoria Wells is the senior manager of behavior and training at the ASPCA. She started the reading program in 2013, and says it is a great way to help dogs that have to relearn how to trust people.
“You know within each session the progress that they’re making,” she told the Times. “In the beginning of the session, the dog might be in the back of their kennel cowering, and then they move forward, lie down, relax; their tail might wag.”
Like their counterparts in New York City, the animals awaiting adoption in Phoenix are good listeners. And apparently they’re not too picky about which reading material their human pals share. If you think about it, that’s saying a lot, considering some of the college kids that volunteer at the shelter often read from their text books, according to Whitney Fletcher, Director of Volunteers & Special Events at AAWL & SPCA.
“As you read out loud, you are focusing on something other than the animal,” she says. “In turn, the animal grows accustomed to your presence and voice, which is calming. Dogs and cats find the rhythmic sound of a voice very comforting and soothing.”
If it works with shelter animals, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work with our dogs and cats, too. So the next time you curl up with a good book, try reading to your pet and see what happens. He (or she) just might enjoy it.
It is simply mind-boggling. There’s just no other way to put it.
Last week, authorities in Monmouth County, New Jersey, reportedly rescued 276 dogs from one home. According to multiple media accounts, some of the dogs had never been outside, some were trapped in walls and some were literally having puppies.
“When the Monmouth County SPCA Law Enforcement Division realized that we were facing an historical hoarding event, we knew that we would need to call on all our partners in animal welfare, law enforcement and emergency responders,” the agency’s police chief and executive director Ross Licitra said.
Personnel from at least five separate animal rescue, animal welfare and law enforcement agencies rallied to the cause. But even with such a massive response, it took workers 15 hours to free all of the animals.
The Monmouth SPCA is now turning to the community for help, and there are several ways you can do so.
Even if you don’t live in New Jersey, you can donate to help cover the costs of caring for these dogs. You can find a link to a special donation page and additional information about where to send your payment here.
The agency is also welcoming inquires about fostering some of the dogs.
“Dogs in our care, especially in cases like this, have a much easier time adjusting to their new surroundings in a home environment rather than in a shelter,” the organization says.
If you live nearby and are interested in providing a temporary home for one of these dogs, you can send an email to: Fostering@monmouthcountyspca.org.
Finally, you can help by donating items on the shelter’s wish list. This list includes:
small/medium dog crates
Science Diet dog food
Purina One wet puppy food
For more information about where you can drop off your donations, click here.
Finally, the Monmouth County SPCA stresses that the dogs are not yet available for adoption and it will take at least one to two weeks to determine which, if any, will be.
“The dogs we currently have need to be medically cleared, spayed/neutered, and assessed behaviorally before they will be ready to meet potential adopters,” the agency says.
In the meantime, those of you who do live in or near Monmouth County are encouraged to meet some of the SPCA’s shelter animals currently available for adoption.
It’s Sad But True
According to the ASPCA, animal hoarding occurs when someone “is housing more animals than he or she can adequately care for.” Specifically, it is defined by “an inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care—often resulting in animal starvation, illness and death.”
While extreme hoarding cases make national headlines and grab our attention, the ASPCA says there as many as 900 to 2,000 new animal hoarding cases in the United States every year. Collectively, these incidents may involve as many as 250,000 animals of varying species.
For more information about animal hoarding, including warning signs and what to do if you suspect someone you know may be overwhelmed, click here.
And please remember that no one can save all of the companion animals in need of homes in the United States. But together we can make a big difference for a few.
A first time conviction for animal cruelty in Ohio could soon result in harsher penalties.
According to published reports, state lawmakers recently passed HB60, which is also known as Goddard’s Law. The bill — which clarifies and strengthens the state’s existing animal cruelty statutes — becomes law once Gov. John Kasich signs it.
As it now stands, Ohio law prohibits anyone from “knowingly torture, torment, needlessly mutilate or maim, cruelly beat, poison, needlessly kill, or commit an act of cruelty against a companion animal.” That remains unchanged. However, the new language in the version of HB60 passed by the House is even more explicit about what constitutes “serious physical harm,” and the penalties upon conviction.
It stipulates that “no person shall knowingly cause serious physical harm to a companion animal” by doing any or all of the following:
Withholding adequate food and water (directly resulting in the companion animal’s illness or death)
Causing the companion animal to be and remain in pain for a prolonged or sustained period
Engaging in any activity that could kill the companion animal
Engaging in any activity that the companion animal’s partial or permanent and total disability
Engaging in any activity that causes prolonged suffering
Anyone convicted of doing any or all of the above faces a fifth-degree felony charge and faces six months to a year in prison upon conviction.
Why Is This Such A Big Deal?
In most states, someone found guilty of animal cruelty for the first time only faces a misdemeanor charge. This usually means that he or she can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, fined or both. In some states there are harsher penalties the next time you’re convicted and for each time after that.
But in most cases the offender just gets a proverbial “slap on the wrist.” And given the correlation between violence targeting animals and violence towards people, I think that’s an absolute joke.
What do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know.