Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has a new animal in their care by the name of Joseph. Found by authorities emaciated, dehydrated, and tied to a tree for nearly four years, Joseph was barely clinging to life. Riddled with a skin infections, heart worms, and fleas, it was unclear if he would make it through treatments. Police say he had been chained to a tree in the backyard of his owner’s home and had been given very little to eat or drink.
Jeremy Temple, Joseph’s original owner, reportedly told neighbors, who at one time inquired about the dog, that he suffered a rare disease that just made him seem emaciated. During his arrest, the officer asked Temple about the dogs supposed condition to which Temple replied, “The dog is not a human.”
Jeremy Temple was given an insignificant punishment with a small fine, and though he is expected to be back in court October 14, the laws protecting Joseph and animals like him, are simply not strong enough to do much good to prevent further acts of cruelty.
Failure to care for your pets, whether intentional or simply neglectful, is a crime in this country. However, many states are unable to impose strict laws for such behavior. The Humane Society reports 47 states do have felony charges attached to certain acts of cruelty, but for animals like joseph, it is suspected his abuser will not see one day in jail. Cases of animal abuse are not rare in the US, and despite the hard work being done by shelters and animal rights groups, it seems to be steadily rising, even with some of the newer, stricter laws.
In New Jersey, Kisha Curtis pled guilty to animal cruelty and was sentenced to 18 months of probation. Tying her dog to a railing for one week without food or water, he was found in 2011 at the bottom of a garbage chute, wrapped in a plastic bag. The Pit bull mix, named Patrick by his rescuers, was nursed back to health and eventually found a loving forever home. He was left for dead, Kisha was let go without jail time.
Common household pets do represent a large portion of abused animals, but they are in no way the only animals affected. In North Carolina in 2012, Butterball Turkey workers were videoed kicking and throwing turkeys, slamming them into crates, and allowing those suffering diseases to die slowly without medical treatment. While some see this as not concerning due to the imminent deaths of the turkeys, after all it is just a turkey farm, cruelty toward any living animal, no matter the future of that animal, is an abomination worthy of punishment.
At Bettencourt Dairies in Idaho, three employees were arrested for cruelty in 2012. An undercover investigator secretly recorded the workers causing deliberate pain to the cows; even dragging a downed cow by her neck with a tractor. The three men were charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty and were ordered to pay a small fine. They received no jail time for their acts of violence.
A Walmart pork supplier, Christenson Farms, was investigated in 2012; hidden video showed vile treatment of the livestock. Pigs were kept in unclean gestation crates their entire lives without even enough room to turn around. Video footage showed workers slamming conscious piglets into to the ground, pig testicles being ripped off, and tails being docked without the use of any pain killers. Costco, one of the largest grocery companies in the United States, has begun implementing a rule that all pork suppliers phase out gestation crates and cruel practices. Walmart, as of June 2012, allegedly was still selling pork purchased from Christensen Farms even after protestors invaded many of their stores and petitions were signed. It is unknown what happened to the person or persons responsible for the alleged cruelties.
In the United States of America, a place where the death penalty is as commonplace as apple pie, many feel strongly that when a crime is committed, the punishment should be equally fitting. Not everyone agrees with this sometimes barbaric philosophy, but it is the law of the land in most states. Given the wretched actions of most who commit acts of violence against animals, it would seem that somehow our court systems could find a way to pose harsher punishments on a case-by-case basis; as they do in cases of human violence. Animal cruelty is not a victimless crime, but nothing has been done to change the laws surrounding the punishment aspect. Shockingly harsh atrocities are penalized by mere time-outs because animals are only property in the eyes of the law.
Written by: Amy Magness Whatley