By Alaysha Germaine
In April of this year, a strike to the heart of animal protection was made.
In 1999, a law was enacted to demolish the sales of videos depicting acts of animal cruelty, most directly, “Crush Videos.” Previous to this, production of dog fighting videos and other twisted assaults on man’s best friend had already been banned.
A Supreme Court ruling on April 21 overturned the law against depictions of dog fighting and other acts of animal cruelty in films with an 8 to1 ruling, saying that it “violated constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and created a criminal prohibition of alarming breadth.”
In effect, the sale and distribution of animal cruelty videos is no longer illegal. The first law establishing a general outline of treatment towards animals was created in 1966 and titled “The Animal Welfare Act.” It set forth the guidelines for the minimal care and treatment of animals including pets, research animals and other animals used for exhibition.
In a 2007 census, more than 87 million households in the U.S. owned pets falling under the categories of dogs, cats, birds and horses.
While I believe The Animal Welfare Act is a well needed set of guidelines, there are many holes in the fabric of its protections.
Under the act, class B dealers are individuals who make their living selling animals to research facilities. This is legal under the welfare act. The issue here, aside from animals being used for research, is that the dealers are not held accountable in any way for showing how they obtained the animal. In short, your pet could be stolen, experimented on in a lab, and someone would receive compensation for it without you ever knowing what happened to your beloved “Whiskers.”
Every state has its own laws for the abuse of an animal. In Washington, the law is this:
“A person is guilty of animal cruelty in the first degree when, except as authorized in law, he or she intentionally (a) inflicts substantial pain on, (b) causes physical injury to, or (c) kills an animal by a means causing undue suffering, or forces a minor to inflict unnecessary pain, injury or death on an animal.” RCW 16.52.205
The list goes on and includes issues such as negligence, bestiality, and video production (which we now know is out the window.)
The penalty in Washington for first degree animal cruelty is a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to five years. However, in the recent case of the British man from Sumas who pled guilty to bestiality, the charges consisted of a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail.
According to the official American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Web site, every 10 seconds in the U.S. an animal is beaten or abused in some way. (http://www.aspca.org/)
There are still places in the United States that sustain puppy mills, testing labs, bestiality farms, and just random people who have some serious psychological problems.
There are countless opinions, exclusions, morals and personal ideas that fall behind issues of animal cruelty, and as this article is meant to be an opinion, I’ll simply add this: it is my opinion that any court that allows videos of animal cruelty to be legitimately created and owned, but calls animal cruelty itself illegal isn’t too bright. Any law that is set to protect animals but will allow someone to steal your pet and sell them to a lab to be tortured isn’t too effective, and any outline of a states laws preventing animal cruelty that states, “except as authorized by law,” isn’t right.
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