Do­ing what’s right

There may be tougher penal­ties if pets are harmed dur­ing crimes, in the United States.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Pets - By MARY ESCH

WHEN Denise Krohn came home to find her Gold­en­doo­dle Kirby bleed­ing on the kitchen floor, she at first thought it was a ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent. But she soon re­alised that her home had been ran­sacked, and that her other dog, Quigley, was ly­ing dead on his favourite blan­ket in the liv­ing room.

Bur­glars who tore through her hill­top farm­house north of Al­bany, New York, made off with sev­eral tele­vi­sions, a lap­top, some cheap jew­ellery and change. And, po­lice say, they ap­par­ently shot her friendly, goofy dogs on their way out the door.

“It was just a mean, nasty thing,” Krohn said.

A year later, the crime re­mains un­solved. But what both­ers Krohn is that po­lice told her that if some­one is caught, they would likely get 25 years in jail for bur­glary, but no ad­di­tional pun­ish­ment for killing the dogs.

“It’s just not right,” she said. “I don’t care about the TVs and other stuff. What hurts us ev­ery day is los­ing our dogs.”

Krohn hopes to gain some mea­sure of jus­tice by mak­ing her pets the poster pups for New York state leg­is­la­tion that would make it a felony to harm a com­pan­ion an­i­mal, even by ac­ci­dent, dur­ing the commission of a crime. Con­vic­tion would be pun­ish­able by a US$5,000 (RM21,450) fine and two years behind bars on top of the jail time for the bur­glary or other crime.

Dubbed “Kirby and Quigley’s Law” for the slain dogs, the pro­posal cur­rently faces an up­hill fight among law­mak­ers. But if it does pass, ex­perts say, it would be one of the tough­est an­i­mal-cru­elty charges in the nation.

Diane Balkin, a for­mer Den­ver pros­e­cu­tor who’s now with the An­i­mal Le­gal De­fense Fund, likened it to felony mur­der, a le­gal rule that allows some­one to be charged with mur­der if they kill some­one dur­ing the commission of an­other dan­ger­ous crime, even if the killing wasn’t in­ten­tional.

Sen Jim Tedisco, a Sch­enec­tady County Repub­li­can who first in­tro­duced the bill five years ago, said he was orig­i­nally mo­ti­vated by two cases in which heroin traf­fick­ers smug­gled drugs in the stom­achs of pup­pies and dogs and were charged with drug crimes but not an­i­mal cru­elty.

“At­tor­neys said it had noth­ing to do with cru­elty, they were just smug­gling heroin,” Tedisco said. “What this bill does is make it clear that if you harm a com­pan­ion an­i­mal while com­mit­ting an­other crime, you face an ad­di­tional penalty.”

Tedisco’s spokesman said the mea­sure is in­tended to ap­ply only to cats and dogs. But the bill says “com­pan­ion an­i­mals”, and a state ap­pel­late court once up­held a felony cru­elty con­vic­tion un­der the cur­rent law of a man who stomped a gold­fish to death.

The bill passed the state Se­nate 59-2 in Fe­bru­ary but has died in com­mit­tees in the Assem­bly the past five ses­sions. Op­po­si­tion has fo­cused on whether such a law is re­ally needed.

In the case of Kirby and Quigley, Balkin said the crim­i­nal could prob­a­bly be charged un­der the ex­ist­ing cru­elty law be­cause the shoot­ing was clearly an in­ten­tional act. The new law would also cover an un­in­ten­tional act, such as hit­ting a pet with a get­away car.

“This bill is un­nec­es­sary,” said Assem­bly­man Joseph Len­tol, a Brook­lyn Demo­crat. “It’s al­ready a crime to as­sault or kill an an­i­mal; it’s al­ready a felony if you do it with ma­li­cious in­tent.”

Len­tol said if the point of the law is to de­ter cruel acts, it makes no sense to ex­pand it to in­clude un­in­ten­tional harm.

Pub­lic­ity about Kirby and Quigley led sev­eral breed­ers to of­fer Gold­en­doo­dle pup­pies to the Krohns. They now have eight-mon­thold Porter and seven-month-old Tedi, who’s re­lated to the blond, curly Quigley and looks just like him, right down to the joy­ful grin.

Krohn has al­ready writ­ten a pile of let­ters to law­mak­ers and promised to keep fight­ing for the bill. “I never thought of my­self as an an­i­mal ac­tivist,” said Krohn, a re­tired teacher. “I just want to do what’s right.” – AP GOOD news for dog lovers! Send in your cutest pooch photo (1MB) – orig­i­nals only – along with a catchy cap­tion (not more than 10 words) to win prod­ucts worth over RM200. Three win­ners will be selected each month. E-mail your pet’s name, body weight, age, and your con­tact de­tails to ad­min@front­linevip­club.com. Win­ners will be no­ti­fied via e-mail or phone. Judges’ de­ci­sion is fi­nal. Win­ners’ pho­tos will be up­loaded to Heart­gard Your Pet face­book page at face­book.com/ Heart­gardYourPet. Prizes spon­sored by

Krohn show­ing pho­tos of her Gold­en­doo­dle dogs Quigley (left) and Kirby. — AP

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