Violence against animals needs to be raised to at least a Level 5 felony!!
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The intent of this is to shed light on the fact that violence against animals needs to be readdressed at the legislative level. IC 35-46-3-12 subsection c (torturing or mutilating animals) should be enhanced from a level 6 to a level 5 felony. This crime level must be enhanced because of the effects it has on the animals involved, the amount of resources that go into rehabilitating these animals and the amount of resources that go into investigating these crimes. We must, as a State community, make a statement to the criminals that would commit these horrendous acts that they will be tolerated no longer the way they have been in the past.
Please let me share with you the story of Justice. Justice is a male, brown eyed American Pit Bull Terrier. He is approximately two to three years old. Justice is a living, breathing, beautiful animal that feels pain and understands just how cruel and violent human beings can be. Justice was found on November 2nd near the intersection of County Roads 800 N and 400W in Shelby County. A known but un-named concerned citizen was passing by and saw Justice and the two boys who found him. She was able to get Justice loaded into her truck for transport to life-saving veterinary care.
Justice was taken to Indy Vet in Indianapolis the next day. He had chemical burns all over his body and all over his face. He had skin sloughing off, both his eyes and nasal passages were nearly swollen shut. His mouth and esophagus were burned from licking off the chemicals. The extent and seriousness of the injuries that Justice has are indicative of intentional torture and mutilation and clearly no accident. Words cannot describe the amount of torture and pain this poor little guy has been through.
Chris Browder at the Shelby County Animal Shelter took responsibility for Justice’s rehabilitation. Justice’s treatment begins at Indy Vet, 5425 Victory Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46203. It has taken 30 days so far and the veterinarians have said that his appointments will most likely take a year or longer. He has seen 2 different veterinarians and numerous veterinary technicians and he is still nowhere near full recovery. It has already taken a small army of wonderful people and an outpouring of financial resources from the community to even begin Justice’s rehabilitation. The vet and vet techs have been taking care of him 24 hours a day and 7 days a week for a month so far. The exact figure is unknown but the cost has easily passed the five figure mark to date.
The Shelby County Animal Control Agency and the community came together to raise money so that law enforcement could pursue solid leads and Justice could get the treatment he deserves. Our Law Enforcement Officer’s time is stretched thin and spent well enough already pursuing leads and investigating crimes committed against other people. The Shelbyville Animal Control Agency spent three weeks investigating this crime. Chris did a lot of research and got a lot of tips before turning her binder into Law Enforcement Investigators in Shelby County. It is believed that they are following a solid lead and there is a ten-thousand dollar reward for information that leads to an arrest. Thus, one heartless person’s criminal act costs not only the animal but society so much.
When the circumstances are looked at separately it might appear that a level 6 felony fits this crime. If only Justice’s horrible injuries are considered maybe a level 6 felony is acceptable. If only the hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars that have been spent by concerned citizens and veterinarians are considered then maybe a level 6 felony fits the crime. If only the amount of taxpayer dollars that are going into the Police investigation are considered then possibly a level 6 felony is the correct crime level. However, when viewed as a totality of all the circumstances involved no logical person can admit that the level 6 felony sentence range of ½ - 2 ½ years is acceptable.
There are people that might consider Justice just an animal and look at him like property that is easily damaged and discarded or even intentionally destroyed. However, for those of us that are deeply invested in the value of all life we know that the perpetrators that would do this to a living creature deserve much more than the punishment that a level 6 felony carries. We must also ask ourselves about the capability of the person that would torture and mutilate an animal in this manner and consider how they might treat a person next. I encourage you to carefully consider all of this information and please bring it to the attention of your political colleagues as I will. Let us make a point to those criminals that engage in this type of behavior and make certain that they are aware that we are more than willing to impose harsher punishment on them from now on!
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