Last week, we saw the passing of Gucci, a dog that was hung by the neck, tortured and set on fire by a group of youths in 1994.  It was a case that drew worldwide attention and led to tougher animal cruelty laws in Alabama.  Passed in 2000, the Pet Protection Act, called Gucci’s law, made first-degree cruelty to a domesticated dog or cat a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.   Gucci was 16 years old when he died.   It was a hard decision, but his loving owner of all these years had to make the decision to euthanize Gucci because of his rapidly failing health. 

There are many state laws that were made to honor the animal victims that inspired their passage.   They were passed by concerned citizens and legislators to ensure those who abuse animals are dealt with stronger punishments.  There are many other dogs that have inspired stronger animal cruelty laws.  We have a few of them here.

Nitro’s Law – Ohio

Starved to death by Steve Croley, owner of High Caliber Kennels in Ohio back in October 2008. 

Nitro

House Bill 70, Nitro’s Law, was introduced to increase the penalties for mistreatment of Companion Animals from a misdemeanor to a felony by the tireless efforts of Nitro’s owners Liz and Tom Raab, and their team of advocates. 

The Ohio House passed this bill this past February making it a felony crime to torture, torment, beat, poison or commit any act of cruelty against a cat or dog.   It requires Senate approval before it becomes law.  It’s important that Ohio residents call, fax, or email your senator and tell them you support this bill.   For more information, check out the Nitro Foundation website and/or the Nitro Foundation Facebook.

Dexter’s Law – Wyoming  

Back in 2001, Travis Wilson kidnapped Dexter, a basset hound belonging to his girlfriend, and beat him so severely he was partially paralyzed.   A month later, when Dexter returned home, Wilson kidnapped him again, cut off all four of his legs, burned him, killed him, and threw the remains onto his guardian’s driveway.  

In 2003, Gov. Dave Freudenthal, signed Dexter’s law making it a felony, punishable by up to two years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $5,000, if someone “knowingly and with intent to cause death, injury or undue suffering, cruelly beats, tortures, torments, injures or mutilates an animal resulting in the death or required euthanasia of the animal.”  

Scruffy’s and Magnum’s Law – Kansas 

In June 1997, Marcus Rodriguez, Lance Arsenault, Richard Golubsk, and Jose Gutierrez stole a little Yorkie named Scruffy.  Scruffy was shot with a pellet gun, placed in a plastic bag, set on fire while still alive, and beaten repeatedly with a shovel.  They gleefully videotaped themselves while abusing the little dog.  It took nine years to pass Scruffy’s law.  It was pushed to the forefront by the abuse of a puppy named Magnum. 

Magnum

In August 2005, an 11-week-old Labrador-mix puppy was discovered near death in a trash bin. Tortured by an unknown assailant, the puppy had multiple injuries, including a broken leg, cuts, and chemical burns over much of his body. He had been bound with wire and one paw had been stuffed into his mouth. Veterinarians worked to save him, but he died a few days later from his injuries. 

Outraged citizens intensified measures to pass a felony cruelty law. Scruffy’s/Magnum’s Law finally passed in 2006.  It includes felony provisions for animal cruelty and requiring those convicted of animal cruelty to serve at least 30 days in jail and pay a fine from $500 to $5,000. In jail, they must have a psychological evaluation and complete an anger management course.

Henry’s Law – Utah  

In 2006, Marc Vincent had been arguing with his wife when he chased her dog with a leaf blower and then put the dog in an oven at 200 degrees.  Henry lost an eye, he suffered burns to his chest and front legs, his claws were fused together from the heat, and he would never again be able to walk normally.  

Henry’s Law was passed in 2008 and makes it a felony to torture dogs and cats that are in homes – only dogs and cats.  Other pet animals and strays are not covered.   

Romeo’s Law  –  Kentucky 

In 2007, Ronald Turner was caught on videotape brutally beating his Labrador puppy, Romeo.   Signed in April 2008, the law states that the “torture of a dog or cat is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class D felony for each subsequent offense if the dog or cat suffers physical injury as a result of the torture, and a Class D felony if the dog or cat suffers serious physical injury or death as a result of the torture.”  Weak, but in a state that is notorious for lax or nonexistent punishments for animal abuse, it’s a start. 

Romeo

I’ll be fair, dogs are not the only animals that have inspired stronger animal cruelty laws.  There is Pasado the Donkey and Buster the cat to name a couple.   But there is still a long way to go.  Countless others are suffering abuse every day – starvation…beatings…set afire.  The victims are too numerous to count.  We hope that the enactment of these laws, and judges that sentence according to these laws sends a message out to the public that our precious pets and all animals are to be treated with respect and care. 

Or there will be serious consequences.

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