Cruelty to animals - a Third Degree Felony | Searcy Denney

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John Hopkins

Injured Victims Without a Voice

» Written by // August 6, 2007 //


I was driving to work this morning and heard the tale of a puppy found suffering after someone poured hot oil on him and left him to suffer to death. What sort of low-life does it take to torture an innocent, defenseless, animal? What should the penalty be for this savage, brutal act?

I confess, my wife and I are DINKS (double income no kids). Yes, we are those people who think of their four legged friends as “the kids”. So, I have a particular affinity for dogs and cats that I know some people do not. Dogs in particular give their love and companionship freely. When I come home, my animals are excited to see me and free to express their love and devotion. Their only complaint; where have you been and we missed you.

So, how can someone look into the eyes of a loving animal and pour hot oil on them and, then perhaps even worse, abandon them in their pain and suffering to die alone? The lowest form of life, that is who does this. Studies tell us that this is the same person who targets the weak among us; the bully, the child abuser, the spouse beater.

Florida statutes make cruelty to animals a third degree felony. This crime is punishable by up to (5) years in prison and/or a fine not exceed $10,000. Is that enough? The answer is an unequivocal no. Most of the time judges go easy on these opportunistic abusers.

Attack me and I have a decent shot at making decisions and protecting myself. I am human and I do not automatically trust the low life approaching me with a pot of boiling oil. I have no built-in trust to prevent me from fighting back. But, most pets trust us and most assume that our first inclination is not to harm them.

The National Humane Society presents us with a few examples of cruelty and the corresponding penalties:

• February 2001: Two 18-year-old teenagers in Florida were charged with several counts of animal cruelty including shooting bulls with arrows, killing one, and savagely killing one pet llama and maiming two others. In the bull case, one of the perpetrators, Robert B. Pettyjohn, received a 10-year jail sentence, to be suspended after three years with two additional years of house arrest and five years of probation. He is also ordered to complete 150 hours of animal community service work, and is barred from owning animals without the permission of the court. He must also pay the owner of the dead bull $15,000 in restitution. He is scheduled to go on trial on animal cruelty charges involving the llamas.

• May 2001: Two Colorado boys, ages 16 and 17, served two days in jail, were fined $500 and given 18 months probation after setting a stray cat’s tail on fire and throwing the cat out of a moving car. The cat survived despite having third degree burns over 25 percent of his body and first and second degree burns over 10 percent of his body. The cat, named “Westy” by hospital staff, had several skin grafts and lost his ears, tail and one leg.

• May 2001: Four males from Louisiana, ages 18-20, tied a dog to the back of a car and dragged him to his death down a gravel road at speeds as high as 80 mph. The four then dragged the dog to a church where they threw his mutilated body into a side window. All four of the young men were convicted of animal cruelty and received sentences ranging from probation to 13 years in prison.

I encourage you to write your state attorneys and the judges hearing these cases and encourage them to send the correct message. Encourage them to let these bullies know that this sort of cruelty means long jail sentences and heavy fines.


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