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Animal Cruelty – the Worst Kind
When people think about animal cruelty, their minds usually start with an image of a dog chained up outside in the cold without any food, or some kind of dog fighting ring where pit bulls are raised to viciously attack one another. The truth is, there are millions of animals that are being abused by people who aren’t actually intending to do the wrong thing. They are victims without a voice. Every year, thousands of animals in Connecticut are victims of animal cruelty. Although there are no federal cruelty laws, state laws concerning animal cruelty are designed to prevent the needless cruelty. Connecticut has several laws that prohibit cruelty to animals ranging from broad anticruelty prohibitions that make it a crime to overwork or beat an animal to specific laws against particular acts, such as cropping a dogs ears. Animal cruelty can be either deliberate abuse or simply the failure to take care of an animal. It is a criminal act and Connecticut law punishes people convicted of animal cruelty acts with fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and imprisonment from 1 to 10 years. See CGS 53-247.
The question that usually comes up is, Why do humans abuse animals? The sad truth of the matter is that there is no targeted reason people do what they do. Instead of treating animals like they are living creatures with emotions and feelings, some people view them like throw-away “things” that are put here for their pleasure. Animal abuse is not isolated to any specific gender, race, or demographic.
The state’s broadest anticruelty law makes it a crime to overwork, beat, kill, torture or injure an animal; fail to give it proper care; inflict cruelty upon it; deprive it of food or water; expose it to poisons; fail to provide protection from weather; and abandon it; fight with, harass or make it perform. It is a felony to maliciously and intentionally maim, mutilate, torture, wound or kill an animal. Lastly the law subjects anyone who confines or tethers a dog for an unreasonable period of time to a misdemeanor fine.
According to the Judicial Branch, from 2006 through 2016, 3,723 offenses were brought under the Animal Cruelty Statute. Of the 1,267 cases that were dismissed, the offender successfully completed a diversionary program.
In 2014, the Connecticut Legislature passed legislature further regulating the sale of dogs and cats at pet shops. Essentially, when a town requires a pet shop to be licensed, there are certain requirements the owner has to following including allowing inspections; veterinarian examinations of animals must take place every 15 days; within 20 days of sale any dog/cat becomes ill or dies form said illness that was present at the time of sale or within 6 months is diagnosed with a congenital defect, the consumer must be reimbursed for the price of the animal and any medications provided. Also included in the legislation are signage requirements notifying consumer of said statutory requirements.
In order to combat some of the aspects of cruelty to animals, Connecticut has an animal population control program (APCP). Under APCP, a CT resident must pay a $50 fee when he adopts a pet from a pound, which entitles the adopter to a vaccination voucher good for 60 days. A nonresident may adopt a pound pet for $5 municipal fee, but are not eligible for program benefits. Program funding comes from an annual surcharge on CT dog licenses.
Animal abuse is an epidemic that is not going away without people doing the right thing and speaking up. The only way we can start to correct the problem is by deciding to take a stand and let people know that it’s not OK to mistreat or neglect animals. If you suspect a neighbor is abusing their dog, start by offering to take it on walks or to the park. This way, you can subtly communicate that the owner is doing something wrong without accusing them. If they don’t take the hint, then there are other options for helping the pet out of harm’s way.
- If an animal is in immediate danger, contact your local police department and report the situation.
- In a dangerous situation you can also contact PETA (757-622-7382, option 2) to report the situation. There, you can discuss what information you have and help determine the best path forward.
If you see something, speak up! Animals need strong people to have a voice for them and to tell people the abuse needs to stop.