Two 17 year old teens to possibly only receive slap on the wrist for clubbing 4 baby owls to death? These 17 year old adults moral compass is already set.
What do you feel is fair justice or punishment?
OUR OBJECTIVE: Push for stricter animal cruelty laws for minors and an accessible registry for youth and adult animal abusers in California.
The call I received at work was shocking. But it was nothing compared to what I saw when I arrived home. Home is a 100 acre ranch in Lompoc that has been turned into a sanctuary for rescued dogs, horses, pigs and chickens - and a safe haven for the native wildlife that lived there long before we moved in. It is called the Sheltering Oak Sanctuary.
Scattered on the ground next to our hay stack were the remains of 4 fledgling barn owls. It was their wings and talons that made them recognizable. Their faces were smashed. Their bodies broken. If I had not just been informed of it, I would never have guessed that this brutal slaughter occurred at the hands of a couple of young boys.
The boys were delivering hay to our ranch and a neighbor saw them beating what appeared to be a hay bale with the blunt end of a 2x4. When something fell off the bale, they thought it might be debris. The boys then stomped the ground with their feet and continued with the 2x4 to hammer away at whatever it was. Moments later the boys were finished with their work and left. It was then that the neighbor's discovered what they were aiming their blows at. It was 4 baby barn owls. Just starting to get their adult feathers, but still bearing their fuzzy white baby feathers, the youngsters probably fell out of their nest into the hay.
As I looked at their bodies I was sad, shocked, angry, confused. What on earth would possess someone to take the lives of such defenseless creatures, in such a violent way? I felt a sense of guilt that I had not been there. That this tragedy occurred on the grounds of a sanctuary - a place where the animals are supposed to be safe. I felt deep sorrow that these babies suffered without defense. That they lost their lives so needlessly. I grasped for an explanation and found nothing.
Fish & Game came out right away to get a report of the incident. They collected the evidence and assured me they would follow through on an official investigation.
I woke the next morning thinking about the baby owls. I also thought about a dog that is being brought to the sanctuary from North Carolina. His owners cut off his toes, his tail and his ears. . . I checked my email and found a plea for an emaciated, female shepherd mix that someone witnessed being thrown from a moving vehicle. She was still lactating. I'm sure the puppies will fetch a few hundred dollars for someone. I talked with my friend Julia DiSieno, who runs Animal Rescue Team in Solvang, and learned about 3 baby kittens found roadside, in a plastic bag. One was dead, one died shortly thereafter. One was hanging on.
What emotion is available to us as human beings in the face of such cruelty? Tears and sadness fall short somehow and leave my stomach still empty and still reaching for something that makes sense.
I arrived at work and learned that the boys were caught, though they offered no reason for their actions. Because they are minors (17) the boys will likely walk away with community service. The terror, the suffering and the death they brought about will be wiped away with a few hours of labor. I commend the State Dept of Fish & Game for their expeditious response. But I can't help but feel like justice has not been served if these boys walk away with a slap on the wrist. What does that say about us, as a people, that we tolerate such egregious violence against living creatures? Why is animal cruelty not taken more seriously? Surely there has been more than enough evidence to suggest that violence to animals is usually just a stepping stone to violence committed against people. And even were it not, is the suffering that an animal feels so much less than our own that a paltry fine or a few hours of labor make it right?
So who do we look to to make this right? Do we look to parents and implore them to teach their children respect for all life? Do we look to lawmakers and urge them to pass stricter anti-cruelty laws? Do we look to ourselves and commit to standing up for those who do not have a voice of their own? Yes. Yes, to all of the above. Each of us has a role play, for better or worse. One of my favorite quotes reads, more or less, "the only thing needed for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing". How many of us do nothing, when there are so many little things we could do that would make a difference?
To the boys who committed this sickening crime, I have this to say: You cannot undo what you've done. You caused suffering and you took lives, needlessly. If you are remorseful I hope that you will commit yourself to easing suffering and saving lives. Give back what you so callously took. Go to your local shelter and walk a lonely dog who needs a friend. Tell someone how important it is to spay or neuter their pet. Look around you at the beauty that we are blessed with, leave a little room for the living things that we share this planet with and realize that they too cherish life.
All too often, local prosecutors dismissed or excused cruelty to animals as something on par with shoplifting or vandalism. Even when prosecutors wanted to act to end the violence, they often lacked the expertise or resources to take animal abusers to court.
Circumstances like these led to the launching of ALDF to a powerful anti-cruelty campaign, which are already having a powerful impact in communities all across the nation.
ALDF doesn't just preach to law enforcement officials about the need to vigorously prosecute animal cruelty cases. They roll up their sleeves and help them get the job done.
This is done by offering local law enforcement officials practical, hands on help: educating them about anti-cruelty laws. ALDF's dedicated staff is available to help over-burdened prosecutors with animal abusers, actually working as assistants - researching legal issues, often at a moment's notice, and handing the results over to the district attorney for use in the case - providing prosecutors and judges with access to their computerized database that holds critically important information on prosecutions, convictions, and sentencing in similar cases; making sure prosecutors, judges, and police officers understand the direct link between animal abuse and other kinds of violence; and writing to judges, urging the maximum sentences under state law.”
Federal Registry of Youth and Adult Animal Abusers. - The Petition Site
Create a federal and fully accessible registry of youth and adult animal abusers.
Co-Founder and Director
Shadow's Fund & The Sheltering Oak Sanctuary
Julia Di Sieno
Co-founder and Executive Director
Animal Rescue Team, Inc. www.animalrescueteam.net
California Penal Code: Animal Welfare Provisions
§597. Cruelty to Animals
§597. Cruelty to animals.
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (c) of this section or Section 599c, every person who maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates, tortures or wounds a living animal or maliciously and intentionally kills an animal, is guilty of an offence punishable by imprisonment in the state prison or by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, or, alternatively, by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (a) or (c), every person who overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter, cruelly beats, mutilates, or cruelly kills any animal, or causes or procures any animal to be so overdriven, overloaded, driven when overloaded, overworked, tortured, tormented, deprived of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter, or to be cruelly beaten, mutilated, or cruelly killed; and whoever, having the charge or custody of any animal, either as owner or otherwise, subjects any animal to needless suffering, or inflicts unnecessary cruelty upon the animal, or in any manner abuses any animal, or fails to provide the animal with proper food, drink, or shelter or protection from the weather, or who drives, rides, or otherwise uses the animal when unfit for labor, is for every such offence, guilty of a crime punishable as a misdemeanoror as a felony or alternatively punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony and by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000).
(c) Every person who maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates or tortures any mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, or fish as described in subdivision (d), is guilty of an offense punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both the fine and the imprisonment, or, alternatively, by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.
(d) Subdivision (c) applies to any mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, or fish which is a creature described as follows:
(1) Endangered species or threatened species as described in Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 2050) of Division 3 of the Fish and Game Code.
(2) Fully protected birds described in Section 3511 of the Fish and Game Code.
(3) Fully protected mammals described in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 4700) of Part 3 of Division 4 of the Fish and Game Code.
(4) Fully protected reptiles and amphibians described in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 5050) of Division 5 of the Fish and Game Code.
(5) Fully protected fish as described in Section 5515 of the Fish and Game Code.
This subdivision does not supersede or affect any provisions of law relating to taking of the described species, including, but not limited to, Section 12008 of the Fish and Game Code.
(e) For the purposes of subdivision (c) each act of malicious and intentional maiming, mutilating, or torturing a separate specimen of a creature described in subdivision (d) is a separate offense. If any person is charged with a violation of subdivision (c), the proceedings shall be subject to Section 12157 of the Fish and Game Code.
(f) Upon the conviction of a person charged with a violation of this section by causing or permitting an act of cruelty, as defined in Section 599b, all animals lawfully seized and impounded with respect to the violation by a peace officer, officer of a humane society, or officer of a pound or animal regulation department of a public agency shall be adjudged by the court to be forfeited and shall thereupon be awarded to the impounding officer for proper disposition. A person convicted of a violation of this section by causing or permitting an act of cruelty as described in Section 599b, shall be liable to the impound officer for all costs of impoundment from the time of seizure to the time of proper disposition.
Mandatory seizure or impoundment shall not apply to animals in properly conducted scientific experiments or investigations performed under the authority of the faculty of a regularly incorporated medical college or university of this state.
§597a. Transporting animals in a cruel manner.
Whoever carries or causes to be carried in or upon any vehicle or otherwise any domestic animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, or knowingly and willfully authorizes or permits it to be subjected to unnecessary torture, suffering, or cruelty of any kind, is guilty of a misdemeanor; and whenever any such person is taken into custody therefor by any officer, such officer must take charge of such vehicle and its contents, together with the horse or team attached to such vehicle, and deposit the same in some place of custody; and any necessary expense incurred for taking care of and keeping the same, is a lien thereon, to be paid before same can be lawfully recovered; if any such expense, or any part thereof, remains unpaid, it may be recovered, by the person incurring the same, of the owner of such domestic animal, in an action therefore.
petitionTarget: Kristen E.Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, US Senators, NY, President Obama, House Representantves for NY
Sponsored by: Lucille Falcone
In a few words: Michael Vick, Patrick the Pitbull, and 4 baby owls ruthlessly murdered in California. Every day, it seems like there are horrific stories in the news about animals being killed using brutal means, or not taken care of properly. At the same time, when we hear about serial killings, domestic violence, and other kinds of crimes against humans, many perpetrators started out as animal abusers in their childhood and teen years. It is time to create a national registry of animal abusers so that these people do not gain access to other animals.
Over the last few months, I have also noticed an extremely disturbing trend when it comes to youths killing and maiming animals. For example, just a few days ago, 4 baby owls were bludgeoned to death by two 17 year old boys. If you do some research, yo will find that youths who commit violence against animals grow up to become abusers of human beings. This is extremely important to consider when it comes to creating a national registry of animal offenders. Among other things, lack of a searchable directory creates the following problems:
Universities and other facilities that conduct laboratory experiments on animals (something I, and many find unethical) cannot adequately determine suitability of student aides or research candidates. The lack of a federal and fully accesible database of youth and adult animal abusers also makes it impossible to assess ethical suitability of students for acceptance into a wide range of academic programs; in part because youth criminal records are sealed.
Any facility (for example zoos, animal shelters, and pet stores) that works with animals for any reason will not be able to conduct an adequate background check to find out if a past history of animal abuse would open them to a wide range of liabilities, not to mention suffering of animals in these locations.
Medical training programs, nursing homes, and other medical settings can easily become targets of predators that would have been weeded out if a history of animal abuse during youth years was available.
Schools and other agencies dedicated to public or humanitarian services are left vulnerable to individuals that may be steadily progressing towards the kind of horrific and shocking violence that make us cringe each time the news stories come out.
While I respect the fact that every person deserves to build a new life, we cannot ignore the fact that the tendency to abuse animals does not go away, nor does it stop at that level. Recently, I learned that bill S2439 would have created a registry similar to what I am asking for. Unfortunately, this vital issue was not addressed in a timely manner, and the bill must be reintroduced.
I am making a personal appeal today on the behalf of millions of animals that suffer at the hands of repeat abusers, as well as innocent human beings that wind up in the presence of these predators without the kind of vital information that they need to protect themselves. As we have a national registry for sex offenders, we should also have one for animal abusers. I am asking for, at the very least, to reintroduce bill S2439, and if possible, to expand it to include youth offenders, so that our human and animal citizens can all be safer
Animal Abusers Will Appear on Sex Offender-Like Registry in N.Y.