Animal neglect: Let the punishment fit the crime

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 24, 2014

Animal neglect is an act of owning an animal, but not providing it with the necessary care.

It can also include the intentional abuse of the animal.

Either way these acts are deplorable, but law enforcement agencies have their hands tied due to outdated laws.

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One problem is that some of the laws have been on the books so long with little to no amendments that fines are ridiculously small.

Take the fine for cockfighting for instance. It can range from as little as $10 to a maximum of $100.

The law was passed in 1880, so that may have been a lot of money back then. But today some people spend more than that amount on lunch.

There have been several instances of animal neglect in this county over the years. Those instances included dogs left in the backyard tied to trees with little to no food or water and animal hoarding.

While the owners of the animals were prosecuted, many times if the animals survived they were given back to the original owner since the current laws provide little recourse for the court system to either find them new homes or provide them with shelter until one can be found.

Additionally, instances of animal hoarding or multiple animals being neglected will never lead to multiple charges being filed by law enforcement officers, since the current law has limitations. This means if a person is neglecting 25 animals, they will only face one charge of animal neglect.

The Item feels the laws on the books should be examined by lawmakers, and amended to allow harsher punishments.

But in the meantime law enforcement agencies are learning about the current laws and the best ways to enforce them. Pet owners who are lax in providing proper care are warned to increase their efforts, or find their pets a new home.