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Burned-dog case provokes outrage

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  • Colleen Klaum
    Burned-dog case provokes outrage Ohio’s animal protection laws lax, critics say By Cathy Mong e-mail address: cathy_mong@coxohio.com Dayton Daily News EATON
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2002
      Burned-dog case provokes outrage
      Ohio�s animal protection laws lax, critics say
      By Cathy Mong
      e-mail address: cathy_mong@...
      Dayton Daily News
      EATON | The suffering of "Trooper," a puppy found in Preble County with blow torch burns, outraged many.
      But the outrage isn't being backed up with enough action, animal advocates say. They put Ohio in the doghouse when it comes to laws protecting pets from harm. The Humane Society of the United States, which rates states on animal abuse statutes, places Ohio dead last.
      Of those who hurt animals, humane and law enforcement officials see something sinister in these perverse acts, something they call "the link."
      A fascination with cruelty to animals is a red flag in the lives of serial rapists and killers. "These are the kids who never learned that it is wrong to poke out a puppy's eyes," Robert Ressler, founder of the FBI's behavioral sciences unit and serial killer profiler, said in a 1998 Washington Times article.
      "Virtually every school shooter, every serial killer has had 'the link' of having started with animal abuse. It's desensitization at its finest," Martin Mersereau, a caseworker for the animal-rights group PETA, said. The group posted a $1,000 reward for the capture of Trooper's tormenter or tormenters.
      The American Humane Association is urging that Ohio adopt legislation to make animal cruelty a felony offense. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia already have such laws.
      "It depends on how progressive that society, that state, is," Humane Society of Greater Dayton Executive Director Kevin Usilton said.
      Ohio has been dubbed the "worst state for pets" in terms of animal protection laws by the Humane Society of the United States. Ohio's cruelty laws are 126 years old and were last revised in 1977.
      "Sometimes we move very slowly in Ohio," Usilton said. "Things have to be so bad in this state, what I call almost scandalous cruelty, before you can step in and charge a person under the current state statute."
      Senate Bill 221, introduced by introduced by Sen. David Goodman, R-Bexley, and House Bill 480, introduced by Rep. Timothy Grendell, R-Chesterland, are aimed at strengthening animal cruelty laws.
      Both bills await action in the House Judiciary Committee.
      They require:
      � Felony provisions for overt acts of cruelty to dogs, cats, and other household pets;
      � Reimbursement to agencies that provide care for companion animals in court cases;
      � Cross reporting between social service agencies and humane societies when cases of cruelty to children or animals are identified;
      � More sentencing options for judges, such as psychological testing and counseling, when appropriate.
      The two bills have attracted broad support from a number of organizations, including the Humane Society of the U.S., the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association, the Ohio Federation of Humane Societies, and Action Ohio, a domestic violence organization.
      Currently, the state's charge of cruelty is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable up to a $750 fine and imprisonment of up to 90 days.
      Abandoning an animal, a misdemeanor, carries a fine of up to $100.
      Meanwhile, emotions have been stirred by Trooper's fate.
      Humane Society of Preble County officials have received nearly $11,000 for the care of the mix-hound puppy, who will need extensive medical supervision for his burn wounds. Richard Mitchell, the veterinarian overseeing his care at Town & Country Animal Clinic west of Eaton, said the puppy is improving daily.
      Though Trooper is obviously in pain and whimpers occasionally, he is able to slowly sit and has begun lying down to sleep. He is still receiving pain medications and two antibiotics to ward off infections. Several people have asked to adopt Trooper.
      Leslie Renner, the Preble's humane society's president, said a few leads are being investigated. Animal welfare officials warn that companion animals left unattended might become new targets, or people themselves may be at risk as well.
      "Animal abusers are cowards," PETA caseworker Martin Mersereau said. "They take their issues out on the most defenseless beings available to them."
      Mersereau said his office is "buried in cases like this, but if there's one thing to get out there, it's that the victim is the unattended animal. If a cat is out and wandering or a dog is chained in the back yard, it's more likely going to happen. Rich, poor, urban, rural. It doesn't matter, it's the same story again and again."
      Renner said Preble animal officials have been criticized by some for not euthanizing the puppy "but this dog is begging for attention and love," is eating and drinking water and responding to people by getting up in his cage and wagging his tail. "We will know if he gives up. But he is definitely coming along.�
      The American Humane Association, one of the country's oldest groups, sees cruelty to animals as a warning that spousal, child or elder abuse also could be occurring.
      In 1999, AHA created the National Resource Center on the Link Between violence to People and Animals. It includes a database of nearly 200 agencies, individuals and groups across the country involved in work related to "the link."
      The Humane Society of the United States reports that a 1997 study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Northwestern University found that 70 percent of animal abusers had committed at least one other criminal offense and almost 40 percent had committed violent crimes against people.
      Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Tim Vernon, Preble County Dog Warden, at 937-456-4818. Donations may be made to the Preble County Humane Society, 722 S. Franklin St., Eaton OH 45320, attention Robin King. Please put "Trooper" on the check.

      Contact Cathy Mong at 225-2353 or by e-mail at cathy_mong@...
      [From the Dayton Daily News: 09.30.2002]

      "Live in peace with the animals. Animals bring love to our hearts, and warmth to our souls."

      Colleen Klaum

      "He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." Immanuel Kant

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