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Animal Abuse: Silent Suffering Part Two

It's hard to believe anyone would intentionally hurt or harm a pet but it can and does happen. Members of Lainey's Army say if they can't stop animal abuse they do have other options. Among them, working to make sure the punishment always fits the crime.
It's hard to believe anyone would intentionally hurt or harm a pet but it can and does happen. Members of Lainey's Army say if they can't stop animal abuse they do have other options. Among them, working to make sure the punishment always fits the crime.
Believe it or not, anyone who intentionally abuses animals typically receive probation as punishment, if anything.
"There needs to be more of a repercussion for this kind of behavior for these actions that are intentional," says Perry Onderdonk, a member of Lainey’s Army.
"They’re just getting a slap on the hand and then they can go back and do it again," says another member of the group Tammy Alsante.
Members of Lainey’s Army say there are two major problems with current state laws. The first: they were written back in the 1920's, long before the term animal rights ever evolved. That’s long before corporal punishment of children was banned.
The second: animal abuse laws fall into a category originally meant to prevent the inhumane slaughter of farm animals, not the penal codes. That makes prosecution more difficult.
"We need to change these antiquated laws and vote in the politicians that have a good humane scorecard and hopefully this will be in the penal code instead of the Ag. and Markets," said Lainey’s Army member Jeanne Rapalee.
Although Aggravated Animal Cruelty is considered a Class E Felony, cases are often handled in the same manner as say, driving without a valid license. But Lainey’s Army Founder Kimberly Strong says Oneida County has strong legal support on the issue.
"Cases that come into our shelters, cases that our D.A. prosecutes, other D.A.s don't bother with, and it wasn't until we dealt with other counties that we realized we have a real gem here,” says Strong.
Support from the Oneida County D.A. and local lawmakers was on display at a public forum in Utica late last year. Those there were encouraged to push for harsher and updated laws.
"New York ranks 42nd in the country in the strength of our animal abuse laws so we're not doing a good enough job here in New York State, it's time for these laws to get updated," says Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi.
"The way the laws are written are very hard for us to prosecute there's also the way these cases get investigated a lot of times the police aren't involved and things aren't done that we need done," said Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara.
The take-home message from the forum and every day from Lainey’s Army: raise your voice. Strong says with enough support, the laws could be changed sooner than expected.
"If it's going to happen any year, this is the year it's going to happen, the everyday average Joe has a say in government,” said Strong.
"That's our hope and our wish that these abusers get what's coming to them," said Patti Gallacher, a member of Lainey’s Army.

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