Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A cruelty case in Oklahoma

The Bad Rap group have an extended piece (warning some very disturbing photos) about a recently-concluded cruelty case (BAD RAP Blog: Oklahoma style justice - the Newkirk dogs). From a British perspective there are several very interesting points:
  • In the States the available penalties for cruelty are considerably heavier than they are here: it's possible to impose additional terms of imprisonment for each animal, and theoretically someone convicted of severe cruelty to multiple animals could serve several years in jail. In the UK the maximum penalty under the Animal Welfare Act is 51 weeks. 
  • The actual penalties imposed may be a lot less.
  • There was serious doubt about whether this case would be prosecuted at all—and animal welfare groups were impressed that the District Attorney involved took it seriously. If she hadn't happened to be an animal lover there would have been nothing they could do to force a prosecution.
  • There was virtually no system in place to look after this number of dogs (or apparently any dogs) taken by the police in the course of a cruelty investigation. Nearly all of the 100+ dogs had to be put down on the scene and a handful were taken on by various rescue groups on an ad hoc basis. 
  • Those dogs who were rescued were all successfully rehomed in spite of being bull-breeds and probably bred for dog-fighting (over here we'd probably classify at least some of them as Staffordshire bull terriers, but it's still impressive that they could be placed in normal pet homes.)

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