Updated: Nov 7, 2021
Despite the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act being signed into law by former President Donald Trump on November 25, 2019, intrinsic failures within the current system still exist, meaning millions of animals are abused and lose their lives each year.
Voice For Us believes this is due to the lack of a consistent approach to the handling of these cases nationwide. State laws differ on extreme levels from arresting to sentencing. This spectrum is too broad and must be modified.
Voice For Us is hereby reaching out to the U.S. Congress with the below list of twelve points, aimed at rectifying these current failures in legislature.
1) Legal status:
Voice For Us feels that, under the law, animals must be recognized as legal persons who have legal rights. Animals are not objects and must never be considered property.
2) Classification of animal cruelty acts:
Voice For Us feels that every act of animal cruelty must be classified as a felony (Class A/First Degree). Lesser classifications trivialize the act itself, undermine the aforementioned rights of the victim, and do not serve as a strong enough deterrent for future crimes.
3) Booking photograph:
Voice For Us feels that criminals who lack remorse for their actions and show contempt for their victims ought to suffer additional consequences. One way this could be enforced is to punish arrestees who smile, smirk, or otherwise decline to keep a straight face in their mugshots, after being cautioned, by adding a standard fine to their existing charges. This would serve as a reflection of the severity of their crime.
4) Cash bail and bail bond:
Voice For Us believes that implementing a nationwide, standardized approach to cash bail and bond may be beneficial, for example, setting bail at 25% of the arrestee’s annual income/overall assets.
Pending the arrestee’s court date, jail time being the only other option of not paying bail or bond, a higher bail amount may deter people from committing animal cruelty.
5) Conditions between court appearances:
Voice For Us feels more can be done to diminish certain risks that can occur during the period of time between an animal abuser being charged and their future court appearances.
Voice For Us feels that to prevent further animals from being harmed, arrestees should not be permitted to work with, adopt, purchase, or visit households where animals reside during this period. This could be enforced by serving additional fines and/or time in prison.
6) Plea bargain:
Voice For Us feels that all charges ought to be considered when sentencing. Any individual arrested in animal cruelty cases should not have the option to negotiate details of said cases, e.g., pleading guilty in exchange for one or more charges being dropped.
7) Probation, suspended, and concurrent sentences:
Voice For Us feels that sentencing probation (including instances in which judges aim to ultimately suspend those sentences) is inappropriate for animal cruelty cases, as it sends the wrong message that animal cruelty does not lead to serious consequences such as prison time, potentially encouraging further animal cruelty.
Voice For Us feels that in instances where the animal abuser is facing additional unrelated charges, the sentence relating to the animal cruelty offense ought to be served separately and not as part of a concurrent sentence deal.
8) Imprisonment period and fines:
Voice For Us feels that, rather than offering the option to impose one or the other, both prison time and a fine ought to be imposed in animal cruelty cases if the defendant is found guilty.
Voice For Us strongly feels that the imprisonment period for animal abusers ought to be a minimum of ten years per victimized animal.
Voice For Us feels that the fine served should be high and, as previously outlined, standardized e.g., the equivalent of 25% of their assets or earnings.
9) Conditions upon conviction:
Voice For Us feels that convicted animal abusers ought to receive a lifetime ban from working with, adopting, purchasing, or having their own animals.
Voice For Us feels that convicted animal abusers ought to spend the duration of their imprisonment by contributing to animal welfare, for example, building shelters for stray animals that can be donated to rescue organizations who will determine where to place them.
10) Conditions upon release:
Voice For Us feels that, upon their release, convicted animal abusers ought to pay a lifetime monthly fee to their local animal shelter. This could be enforceable by being collected directly from their salary.
11) Animal fighting:
Voice For Us feels that spectators, promoters, and other indirect participants in animal fighting activity ought to be treated the same way under the law as the organizers and animal handlers. Bail, bond, sentencing, and release conditions ought to be just as severe as for those directly involved.
12) Nationwide animal abuser registry:
Voice For Us feels a publicly accessible nationwide animal abuser registry needs to be created. Following a conviction, details like the name and booking photo of the convicted animal abuser ought to be immediately added to the registry and regularly updated.
If you agree with Voice For Us’ suggestions, please, click here . It will take you to a post where I have published a template of the email you would send to your state legislators urging their support. All you need to do is add your name and the name of the person you are emailing.
Feel free to copy me in the email, so that I can keep track of the people who are being contacted and I will publish here a list with their names. I will update the list and the course of the appeal accordingly.
Alternatively, you can download the PDF version below, and copy and paste the text to be emailed.
I would also ask you to sign the petition I have created and share it widely along with this post to get as much support as we can get.