Friday, July 25, 2014

Animal Abuse

Harsher Punishments for Animal Abuse
There are many forms of animal abuse and abandonment.  Simple neglect is inadequate medical care or an animal not being groomed or even as simple as out growing a collar.  Another form of abuse is malicious neglect. Animals are starved and not given water. They are tied up and left to stand in their own waste. Animals can be victims of domestic violence as a way control the person being abused. Sometimes they are abused unintentionally. We don’t realize that our choices are a form of abuse. For example, keeping an old, sick dog that is in pain alive, or locking a dog a hot car with the windows cracked, while running into the store. There are laws in 47 of the states against animal cruelty, but these laws are not strict enough. To make a difference, there should be harsher punishment for animal cruelty and abuse.
The statistics on animal abuse outnumber the laws that punish animal abuse. There is no national reporting system and most cases are usually never reported. Animal abuse is more common in rural and urban areas. According to the ASCPA website, the highest percentage of animal abuse cases involves dogs.  There are more homeless animals in the United States than there are homeless people. There is no way to know how many dogs and cats are homeless in the United States.
Before 1986 there were only four states that had felony cruelty laws. Then in 1986 until 1996 there were thirteen states that charged a felony for animal abuse and cruelty. By 2007 the number of states to make the law a felony had jumped to 27. Today, 43 of the 50 states are first offense felony provisions. This means the person cannot be charged with a lesser crime. There are states that have harsh laws but they can still be improved to make the laws cover more offenses and have a steeper, harsher punishment. North Dakota is the only state that animal cruelty is not a felony. The punishment in North Dakota for animal cruelty is a Class A misdemeanor, $2000 fine and up to one year in jail. This is just a slap on the hand. It is not a harsh enough punishment for people who abuse animals.
Many people love animals and treat them as part of the family. Their animals are allowed to sleep in the bed, sit on the furniture and some even go to the extent of dressing their animals. These animals are well cared for and loved and are considered a life-long commitment. Then there are some who believe animals are only good work or food. When they are no longer useful or they tire of the animal, it is given away, put down or abandoned.  It is true, our Heavenly Father has given us dominion over animals, but that means to care for them and treat them with kindness even when they are no longer useful to us. “President Joseph F. Smith, who succeeded George Q. Cannon as editor of the Juvenile Instructor, expanded the emphasis on Humane Day. In February 1912 in a two-page editorial entitled “Kindness to Animals,” he wrote: “Kindness to the whole animal creation and especially to all domestic animals is not only a virtue that should be developed, but is the absolute duty of mankind. … It is an unrighteous thing to treat any creature cruelly. … It will be a blessed day when mankind shall accept and abide by the Christ-like sentiment expressed by one of the poets in the following words: ‘Take not away the life you cannot give, For all things have an equal right to live.”
Animals are scared, and they feel pain just like humans do. They are helpless victims and it can cause them to become timid, depressed and sometime aggressive. They have no voice. They are innocent creatures of our Heavenly Father and should be taken care of as a precious gift from him.
The reality of animal abuse and cruelty is there are not harsh enough laws. The people who abuse and hurt animals are not in jail long enough. They usually are free after three years. I believe we need to make the sentence for animal cruelty much longer. If the person kills the animal, then they need to be put away for a long time. We need to make it easier for people to report animal abuse. There needs to be punishment for people who do not report suspected animal abuse. The penalty for animal abuse needs to be actually serving jail time with a longer sentence. The offender should not be allowed to ever own an animal again.

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