Monday, January 30, 2006

Even People in Topeka and Wichita Kansas are Fed Up with Animal Abuse and Torture: After Burning of a Yorkshire Terrier Two Bills Have Been Drafted

Even People in Topeka and Wichita Kansas are Fed Up with Animal Abuse and Torture: After Video-Taped Burning of a Yorkshire Terrier and Pup Found in a Trash Bin, Two Bills Have Been Drafted.

This is good news. It’s well documented that those who abuse animals will very soon move on to human victims.

Here are a few articles on the connection between animal abuse, mental problems and future abuse of humans.

Here’s an article on kids and animal abuse:


Two bills drafted to protect animals

Time to get tough? Petitions show broad support


Eagle Topeka bureau

TOPEKA - The torture and death of a little mixed-breed puppy in Wichita may be enough to push stricter penalties for animal abuse through the Statehouse this year, some legislators say. But when a Senate panel debates two of the bills designed to do that before a packed room Thursday, the question will be: How tough is tough enough?

Kansas is one of nine states that doesn't have felony charges for severe animal abuse. That point has been magnified by the video-taped burning of a Yorkshire terrier named Scruffy in Kansas City, Kan., in 1997 and the death of Magnum, a 10- to 12-week-old pup found in a trash bin in Wichita last August, severely burned by chemicals and wrapped with wire.

More than 73,000 Wichitans have signed petitions supporting tougher laws for those who abuse animals. More petitions will be delivered to lawmakers this week.

Animal advocates say highly publicized cases such as those involving Magnum and Scruffy are just examples of the abuse people at veterinarians' offices and humane societies see every day.

"The situation with Magnum may never had been brought to light had the veterinarian not decided to keep it alive," said Ellen Querner of Wichita, president of Pals Animal Rescue. "Many are just euthanized."

Whoever brutalized Magnum, if caught, would likely receive a misdemeanor charge under Kansas law. Prosecutors charged the four young men who lit Scruffy on fire with arson.

Senate Bill 408, supported by Humane Society of the United States, would make it a felony to kill or seriously injure any animal. Convictions would draw a 30-day to one-year sentence and a minimum fine of $1,500, and offenders would have to go through psychological counseling and anger management classes.

The bill has exceptions, including for veterinary practices, research, hunting, rodeos, euthanasia, population control and animal control. It leaves animal treatment guidelines up to state and private organizations that already have standards.

A separate bill, Senate Bill 402, was drafted by Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, and has been endorsed by 16 other senators. It makes animal cruelty a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum 15-day sentence and requires anyone convicted to undergo a psychological evaluation, become a registered violent offender and submit a DNA sample. It has exceptions, including for hunting, ranching, rodeo and slaughter.

A second offense would draw felony charges.

The Humane Society and other animal advocates say that extreme cases of abuse should be felonies and that there are few second convictions because those who brutalize animals are rarely caught.

Journey, however, said legislators need to make sure their laws don't have any unintended consequences, such as charging a kid who shoots the neighbor's dog with low-power BB gun with a felony.

"Nobody wants to give some 12-year-old kid a felony for doing something stupid that doesn't really injure an animal," he said. "Well, maybe somebody does."

Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Wichita, said she was given nearly 73,000 signed petitions from Magnum Force of KS, in support of Senate Bill 408. Most of the signatures were collected in Wichita.

McGinn said the Legislature needs to pass a bill that sends a message that animal abuse won't be accepted.

"I think they have a very good chance of getting passed," she said. "The communities are just outraged."

Senators on the judiciary committee expect a packed room on Thursday when hearings on the two bills open.

Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it's likely one of the bills or a combination will emerge.

"I think there's a pretty good chance they'll come out of committee," he said.

Though the Humane Society and Querner think Journey's bill is too weak, Querner supports the part of the bill that requires convicted animal abusers to submit DNA swabs.

Brian Withrow, an associate professor of criminal justice at Wichita State University, said every serial killer he has studied has started by killing or torturing animals.

"It is the most common thread throughout violent serial offenders' lives," he said. "We don't understand the psychosis behind it, what leads them to do this in the first place. But it is clearly a pattern."

Withrow said many violent serial offenders want to seek help but don't know how to. Not all animal abusers become killers. But Withrow said psychological evaluations and counseling offered in proposed legislation could intervene in some people's lives before they move on to serious crimes against people.

"Criminality is the most difficult thing in the world to predict," he said. "But (animal abuse) is such a common element in the lives of serial offenders that I think we need to capitalize on that."

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