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Norwich Bulletin - 1/18/2009

Connecticut Still Condones Animal Abuse

I was about to sit down and write about the atrocious decision our Connecticut courts made in the Jay Baldwin animal abuse case. In fact, one of our past volunteers, Donna Ploss, has become very interested inlegislation concerning animals, and in particular, the animal abuse laws. So I asked her to send me some information about Jay Baldwin how the decision came about. Jay Baldwin basically walked free after committing some pretty heinous crimes against cats. I was interested in what she would uncover and how the State of Connecticut allowed this to happen.

I knew that Donna had talked with Irene Hudobenko of Ansonia, Connecticut, who was one of the people duped by Baldwin. But I was surprised this morning to find a letter from her to Helping Paws, which gave me even more information. e_My Little Boy", was an 8 week tiger kitten, who was adopted out with his brother Chance. Unfortunately, it was to Jay Baldwin, and one of the kittens was unknowingly handed a death sentence as he left their first home. The other kitten made it back to Irene, but will be traumatized for the rest of its life.

57 year old Ansonia man, Jay C. Baldwin claimed to have lost his beloved cat, and wanted to adopt the two tiger kittens together. He talked a good talk and seemed to Irene to be a very caring man, knowing a lot about cats and appearing to be very honest and friendly. In fact, Hudobenko had turned away several people before Baldwin applied to adopt the two kittens. Little did she know that by going forward with this particular adoption, she was sealing their fate.

He saw an ad for my two kittens in the local town paper and called to find out how many kittens there were," said Hudobenko. He went to her house to see the kittens so he could see all of the cats and she could see how he interacted with them. He obviously passed the test and took the kittens home.

Something bad was going on at the Baldwin home and some of the neighbors knew there had to be something done. After many complaints to the Ansonia Police Department, a search of the garbage strewn and flea infested Woodbridge Avenue apartment was finally done. There they found nine cats and kittens as well as several birds in various degrees of horrendous conditions - . Four of the felines were so badly neglected and abused, they had to be humanely euthanized.

Sadly enough, the kitten Hudobenko had lovingly called e_my little boy" was one of them. Irene’s letter to me explained that her kitten was killed by a blunt trauma to the head. Baldwin was evicted less than a week after the gruesome discovery. At that time the authorities asked him if he had any more cats or kittens. He vehemently denied it. And yet when the landlord went into the apartment, they found two more cats. Baldwin could not stop his cruel and abusive ways to animals. Baldwin was arrested and pled not guilty to ten counts of animal cruelty. Bond was set at $10,000. Shockingly, it was later reduced by Judge Karen Nash-Sequino. Her reasoning? Because, e_the kitten didn’t have any broken bones."

There was a trial of sorts, and we animal lovers were feeling quite hopeful that justice would finally be served for these poor animals. After defense attorney Jonathan Gable’s theory that My Little Boy had died of ingesting rat poison was disproved by a second necropsy, Baldwin changed his not guilty plea and took a deal, entering the Pretrial Diversion Program. This program is nothing but a glorified Accelerated Rehabilitation program for mentally ill criminals and it allowed Baldwin to walk free while being monitored.

After two years, his record will be expunged, as if this heinous crime never took place. This is a total travesty that shows that our State considers the lives of animals not worthy of the protection that they deserve. This judge had a chance to make a difference, and in my opinion, she really blew it. I am ashamed of our justice system and especially that a woman on the bench could allow this to happen.

The State of Connecticut General Statutes defines animal abuse as: e_Any person who maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates, tortures, wounds or kills an animal." It goes on to say that anyone found guilty of animal cruelty e_shall be fined not more than $5,000 and imprisoned not more than 5 years or both." But that didn’t happen in the case of Jay Baldwin. Because animals are still considered possessions in the State of Connecticut, it is up to the discretion of the Judge and Prosecutor to make animal abuse a felony. This judgment is one more incident to further my belief that animals are second class citizens here in Connecticut, and cats are way down the totem poll.

Irene’s heartbreaking letter to me asked that all rescue groups write down the name and description of Jay Baldwin, including all of the aliases he is known to have used. We must make sure he is never allowed to own another animal – and it is obviously going to be up to us because our laws didn’t do much good.

With the ringing in of the New Year comes the change in command at the State Legislature. It is time for all of my readers to become involved. The animal abuse laws need to be more clearly defined, making any animal abuse a MANDATORY felony, with strict jail time and fines. It is obvious to me that leaving the decision up to the Judges and Prosecutors is not working. The residents of this State need to be the voice of the animals. I need all of my readers to write to your local representatives and tell them that animal abuse will not be tolerated. Remember, until the laws are changed, animals will continue to die needlessly. Our animals cannot speak for themselves – it is up to us.

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