Target: Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber
Goal: Make all acts of animal cruelty in Oregon felony offenses.
Although Oregon already has some of the stricter animal cruelty laws in the country, jail time for animal abusers is relatively non-existent and will become more unlikely with Governor Kitzhaber’s goal of watering down penalties. Senate President Peter Courtney, however, is taking steps to make sure this negligence will no longer continue by introducing a bill that would make all acts of animal cruelty felonies, guaranteeing a prison sentence. If passed, this would be a landmark piece of legislation for the country. This bill deserves our support.
In August of 2012, Oregon passed the first law to recognize animals as individual victims of abuse. Now those responsible for acts of cruelty involving several animals, such as dog fighting and puppy mills, can be convicted on multiple counts, leading to a much stronger sentencing. Even with this law in place it is still rare for anyone convicted of animal cruelty to serve a jail sentence, no matter how severe. This is largely due to judicial loopholes and displaced authority.
The main feature of Courtney’s Senate Bill 6 is that it will amend the previous felony sentencing guidelines and not only make all acts of animal cruelty a felony, but also give trial judges the legal authority to put offenders in prison, dramatically reducing the chances of an offender slipping through the appeals process. Along with SB 6, Courtney is also supporting House Bill 2745, which would give citizens the right to stop acts of animal cruelty by filing a civil nuisance abatement or even suing those responsible. Prostitution, gambling, and drug dealing can already be dealt with in this manner, so why not animal cruelty?
If these two bills pass it would be the first time the American government fully recognized animals as sentient individuals. It would also make Oregon the first state in which felony charges could be applied for an offender’s first instance of animal cruelty. Sadly, it is a very rare occurrence that offenders, no matter how egregious the act, serve a jail sentence, but Oregon could change that all right now. Please sign the petition below to show your support.
Dear Governor Kitzhaber,
Under the current felony sentencing guidelines, no matter how severe and unimaginable, it is unlikely that an act of animal cruelty will result in a felony sentencing or jail time. Your current plans are to weaken these laws even more. Please do not allow this to happen. Family is family and those with four legs should be given equal consideration as those with two. If someone were to molest, abuse, or kill a child would it not result in a significant jail sentence? These things happen to hundreds of dogs throughout Oregon every day. Why should they go without the same protection?
Senate President Peter Courtney is working to make sure they do by sponsoring Senate Bill 6 and House Bill 2745, which will both amend the current animal cruelty laws and make sure these crimes are treated as seriously as they should be. I urge you to support these bills so that no more animals in Oregon have to live through such horrific circumstances. Stronger penalties for these crimes are the only way it will stop. Please make Oregon an example for the country today.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: TedDrake via Flickr