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Norwich Bulletin - 7/20/2008

In the Face of Animal Cruelty

This is Grace, one of more than 45 cats seized from a couple in April due to animal cruelty. She came to her shelter unaltered and pregnant and infested with ear mites. She developed a uterine infection and needed and emergency spay. Add on necessary dental care, including three teeth needing extraction, and, worst of all, are her hard permanent hematomas in her ears because of years of scratching at ear mites – all the result of people that should have known better (probably did know better), but did not care.

The home was filthy, with garbage, feces and overloaded litterboxes everywhere. Yet, Grace, after all such a hideous life, still loves people and is a very sweet lap cat. Animals such as Grace tend to be all forgiving.

But, what constitutes cruelty or neglect according to Connecticut law? Section 53-247 “Cruelty to Animals” can be accessed on the internet by using your favorite search engine and asking it for Connecticut Statutes.

It states that “any person who overdrives, drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, deprives of necessary SUSTENANCE, mutilates or cruelly beats or kills or unjustifiably injures any animals, or who, having impounded or confined any animals, fails to give such animal PROPER CARE or neglects to cage or restrain any such animal from doing injury to itself or to another animal or fails to supply any such animal with wholesome air, food and water, or unjustifiably administers any poisonous or noxious drug or substance to any domestic animal or causes it to be done, or having charge or custody of any animal, inflicts cruelty upon it or fails to provide it with PROPER FOOD, DRINK OR PROTECTION FROM THE WEATHER OR ABANDONS IT OR carries it or causes it to be carried in a cruel manner, or fights with or baits, harasses or worries any animal for the purpose of making it perform for amusement, diversion or exhibition, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year or both.”

There is more to the Statute, but it is obvious that adequate food, water, shelter and necessary medical care is mandated by law. The law recognizes no difference between neglect and cruelty according to Dept. of Agriculture Animal Control Officers. Grace and the other cats were victims of cruelty.

The case is being investigated and we hope that charges will be filed and the owners go before a judge. (Read Section 22-329 to find out how the process works for seizure and prosecution of these cases). These poor cats need justice and homes, homes where they will be treated well, loved and cared for in the same manner as a pampered purebred cat would be. Helping Paws ended up fostering Grace.

The penalty for animal cruelty/neglect is up to a $1000 fine and/or up to 1 year in prison for cruelty. For intentional/malicious torture the fine is up to $5000, up to 5 years in prison. Yet, Connecticut, the richest state in the Nation, does not have the strongest laws, and many times law enforcement does not even bother to seriously go after the people who commit such heinous cruelty to animals. We are only average, and the only New England state that does not push for severe punishment for perpetrators committing the neglect/cruelty.

Too many cases are not followed up on because the animals are signed over to the state, and the former owners get a free pass, or a slap on the wrist. Those of us who really care need to ask our State Representatives and Senators to pass a law with stiffer penalties and prosecute to the fullest extent any case where the pet owner should have known better, is in their right mind, and knowingly let their pet suffer. There is always the option if one cannot afford the pet(s) to take them to a shelter or veterinarian and even though it is hard to accept, there are times that death is not the worst alternative.

Please take care of your animal companions and do not take in more than you can comfortably afford.

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