Thursday, January 29, 2009

Under-sentencing animal abuse cases

Do you remember the bison slaying case I blogged about a few months ago? A Texas software exec who owns a vacation ranch in Colorado was charged with animal cruelty after he slaughtered 32 of his neighbor's buffalo because they kept getting onto his property.

I was horrified that anyone would do that. It's hardly the bisons' fault — they don't understand about property lines or any of that kind of thing. Furthermore, who the heck lives on a ranch in Colorado (even part-time) and expects their pasture to look "pristine"?

Unfortunately, the guy's lawyers struck a plea bargain, which meant that the judge's hands were tied, and he was only able to sentence him to 10 days in jail. That's not even 8 hours per buffalo!

I know it's not the judge's fault in this case, but just the other day Fugly Horse of the Day had blogged about judges being too lenient in animal abuse cases. Whether it's the judge determining the sentence, or the lawyers striking a deal, the number of light sentences in animal abuse cases demonstrates how little an animal's life is valued in our society — particularly when that animal is considered livestock.

Personally, I think this guy ought to be going away for a very long time. The fact remains that not only did he kill 32 buffalo, but he also did it in cold blood, as retaliation because his pasture didn't look so pretty anymore. I agree with many of the people who commented on Fugly's post: We need to consider, if these people can abuse animals without any remorse, what are they capable of doing to people?

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