Higher Maximum Penalty for Animal Neglect?

This story was linked to on another website. It is a news article describing five children and a dog found in deplorable conditions. Reading the article, this paragraph caught my eye:

Does anybody know why that may be the case? Why would charges involving kids have a lower maximum than those involving an animal?

I do not know if there is a “factual” answer to this question. Basically, I think our society places a higher value on the life of a child compared to the life of a dog.

:smack: I’ve reread the news article and see what you mean now. In my area there are three levels of animal crimes. Abuse, cruelty, and neglect each have a specific definition and specific maximum punishment. If you find the specific charges, I would guess that she was charged with neglect of the child, and either abuse or cruelty of the dog.

Looks like we aren’t comparing similar charges.

The animal neglect/cruelty statute does indeed have a maximum sentence of 90 days.

The crime of leaving a child unattended in a dwelling does indeed have a maximum sentence of 30 days.

Child abuse, OTOH, carries a penalty of 15 or 25 years, depending on whether it is first or second degree.

This is probably what they mean when they say:

There does not appear to be a comparable charge involving animals.

I stand corrected. There is a crime called aggravated cruelty to animals, which means to “intentionally mutilate, torture, cruelly beat, or cruelly kill an animal.” The penalty is 3 years. It doesn’t seem to apply to the facts of the case, though.

Although it appears not to be the case here, it’s not uncommon for criminal penalties for different crimes to be out of whack with what common sense would dictate, simply because when establishing penalties for some crime, the legislature doesn’t necessarily do a full review of existing penalties to make the new one fit exactly.

I didn’t consider that I may be comparing apples to oranges, so to speak. Still, it seems like she basically did the same thing to both the kids and the dog.

I didn’t realize that there is a difference between animal abuse, neglect, and cruelty. I assumed they were all considered cruelty. If I may ask, what distinguishes abuse from cruelty?

Ok. For some reason I’ve been battling with my browser for an hour. Here goes.

The statutes I cited:

That’s the 90-day thing. Worse yet is aggravated cruelty:

3 years for doing serious physical harm on purpose. Of course, you’ll do more time yet if you blow your dog or felch your goat:

The 30-day thing:

It’s not that strange. Putting a creature with neither language nor opposable thumbs into a state of confinement is different from doing it to a human. It’s harder for the dog either to escape or protest his maltreatment effectively.

Note also that the dog was chained.

I was at a veterinary meeting years ago where this was addressed. In my area (and these definitions can vary by jurisdiction) neglect is the mildest term of the three. If you have a dog tied outside and fail to provide “adequate shelter” (which has very specific definitions) you can be charged with neglect. Likely a fine or warning unless it is a repeat offense.

Cruelty and abuse are both a step up. I believe that “cruelty” is usually neglect that is on going, severe, or involves large numbers of animals. Abuse is beyond failure to maintain minimal standards of care, and involves things like beating/torturing etc.

If I can find my notes from the meeting I attended (years ago) I will be back.

Wow, very thorough. Thanks.

From Gfactor’s post, essentially it’s not abuse because it didn’t cause disfigurement. At least, that could be the part that the police are looking into for further charges. Ok, that’s makes sense now. I knew there had to be a reasonable explanation. Thanks again!

Prosecutor chiming in -
Here in my state, the legislature just increased penalties for animal abuse to be higher than child abuse, and has recieved some flack for it.
One thing, though, when I have prosecuted brutal murders, I have had less press coverage, public attendance at hearings and letters to the judge than with animal cruelty cases. I had one case, proceeding at the same time as a double murder, where a dog was battered and starved by an evil S.O.B… In the case of the double murder, we had two family members address the judge as victims at sentencing. In the dog case, we had almost 100 letters from all across the country advocating everything from the maximum penalty to death for the abuser. There is a powerful network of animal lovers out there who keep in contact via the internet and are very passionate about their cause. That’s great, and I hate animal abuse, too, but that much vocal input on one issue tends to skew the legislation.

I testified in an animal case last year. The cat owner’s ex still had a key and “did things” to a cat. The defendant did a few things to the cat like burning its whiskers. He probably also kicked the cat, resulting in blood in the cat’s urine. I testified to the blood in the urine. The cat’s owner called this “sexual abuse”.

When I was cross examined, the scumbag’s attorney asked if the blood in the urine was definitive for “sexual abuse”. I explained about the anatomy of the female cat, including how tiny her vagina is. I then said that if sexual abuse happened, and it involved the defendant’s penis, then the defendant has a penis that is roughly 1/4 inch in length and girth. I pointedly looked at the defendant.

The courtroom erupted in laughter. Even the magistrate grinned.

You, sir, are my hero. :smiley: