Animal advocates seek tougher penalities
After recent high profile cruelty cases, animal rights supporters — including Anne Arundel County's chief executive — pushed Thursday for tougher penalties for people who shoot or burn animals.
House lawmakers listened as supporters made their case for a bill that would increase the penalties for animal cruelty from 90 days to six months in jail.
It also would raise the fine from $1,000 to $2,500 and add new penalties for anyone who uses a firearm or fire accelerant in the crime.
The bill was filed in response to three high-profile cruelty cases — last year's shooting death of a Siberian Husky named Bear-Bear in an Anne Arundel County dog park; the 2009 death of a Baltimore pit bull named Phoenix who was set on fire; and the recent case of a cat named Mittens that survived being doused with lighter fluid and set on fire in Baltimore.
Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold testified Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee that his black Labrador retriever and Himalayan cat are like family members.
Committee Chairman Joe Vallario, (D-Prince George's), was skeptical of the need for a statewide law and asked the Republican why he did not seek a law from the county council first.
Other members of the committee, including Delegate Luiz Simmons, *(D-Montgomery), questioned whether judges would take advantage of the increased penalties.
"I happen to believe the penalties should be increased," Simmons added as a caveat.
| February 18, 2011; 10:28 AM ET
Categories: Crime and Public Safety, Maryland
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