President’s Message:

The “System” is Not Doing Enough for Abused Animals

Rescued horse Sunny and Susan C. McDonough
Rescued horse Sunny and President Susan C. McDonough

I´m sure that everybody who reads this knows about the puppy named Miracle, who was found nearly strangled to death in a “grave” covered with boulders. Whenever these things happen, some people wonder why there is such a public outcry over “just an animal,” when horrible crimes towards people don´t seem to raise as much concern. Well, I think the answer is simple. Until recently, crimes inflicted upon animals went (and in many cases continue to go) uninvestigated and unprosecuted. If we hadn´t made our voices heard to demand justice when an animal was abused or an abuser got arrested, we wouldn´t have gotten as far as we are now.

The “Buster Bill,” the new felony animal cruelty law, is a step in right direction. But, it only applies if the prosecutor can prove that the person “intended to cause extreme physical pain,” or committed the act in an “especially depraved or sadistic manner.” And because of the Farm Bureau, farm animals are not covered by this law. Also, the crime is only an “E” felony, which is the lowest degree of felonies.

And all Class E felonies are not equal. Even if Miracle’s abuser is convicted under the Agriculture and Markets Law, the term of imprisonment for the animal cruelty charge is only up to two years, whereas, a person arrested for an “E” felony under the Penal Law can get up to four!

In my opinion, the DEC actually promotes legal cruelty by encouraging bow hunting and the use of leghold traps.

Millions of dollars yearly pour into government agencies that serve battered and abused women and children. Money is provided for education, safe houses, counselors, child protective workers, adult service workers. We support these services. Yet, nothing is done for abused and neglected animals, nor is any government agencies actively working to promote their humane treatment. (In my opinion, the DEC actually promotes legal cruelty by encouraging bow hunting and the use of leghold traps.)

In fact, although the Agriculture & Markets Law mandates that the police must arrest animal abusers, police are not provided with any training from that department, nor are they provided with places to take abused animals. And though the NYS Education Law states that humane education must be taught in schools, but I am not aware of any schools that teach humane education as part of their curriculum.

So when somebody makes a comment like “you are more concerned about animals than people in our society,” give them the facts! Remember, the only way we can assure that animals will be protected is if we continue to be their voice.

Susan C. McDonough

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol. XIV, No. 2, Summer 2000.