I'm going to post this release -- about an animal abuser getting jail time -- exactly as I got it a few minutes ago from Anita Edson at the SPCA of Texas and when you finish reading it, I think the proper thing to do would be to send the SPCA (www.spca.org) a thank-you note on behalf of Texas' animals.
You might also send one to Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham at 200 E. Ferguson St., Ste. Tyler, Texas, 75792. Why? Because he must have made time for the case. Sometimes in Texas animal cases fall into the "low priority" area because, frankly, so many humans are being mean to other humans that the DA is overwhelmed by those cases.
Heck, it wasn't even until the 21st Century that abusing animals was a serious jailhouse offense in Texas. The law that the Smith County DA used is so fresh it still has legal puppy breath. (Gov. Rick Perry signed the Loco Law, named after the little dog blinded in an attack by an unknown creep, into effect in Carrollton at Operation Kindness on June 6, 2001. By the way, visit www.thln.com and see how you can help the Texas Humane Legislation Network push through an even tougher animal cruelty bill -- HB326 is sort of in a holding pattern in committee.)
Here's the SPCA release. Maybe if you handed it to someone you know who is mistreating their animals, they might take the hint before they have to hire a lawyer and enjoy some jail time -- after all we want to save the animals first, then prosecute later. Posthumous prosecutions don't help the animals.
Now, from the SPCA:
"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
"Jury Sentences Tyler Woman to Six Months in Jail for Animal Cruelty; SPCA of Texas Calls Verdict 'Appropriate'
"(DALLAS, TX): March 31, 2005--A Tyler woman who once operated a so-called animal rescue haven was found guilty today on one count of animal cruelty and ordered by a jury to spend six months in jail.
"The trial began on Tuesday, March 29 at County Court-at-Law Judge Floyd Getz's court in Smith County. Julia McMurrey, former operator of Paws Around The Planet, Inc., was charged with four counts of animal cruelty following a rescue of 198 dogs from her property on September 11, 2003.
"The SPCA of Texas, which rescued the animals along with the Smith County constable's office, subsequently received custody of the dogs, the majority of which were placed up for adoption.
"Today's verdict and sentencing was in response to the mistreatment of "Tiki," a young, female pit bull mix who was suffering from malnutrition, mange and severe tick infestation.
"Ms. McMurrey still faces up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine on each of the remaining Class A misdemeanor charges. Her jail sentence is scheduled to begin on Monday, May 2 of this year in Smith County.
"Dave Garcia, the SPCA's VP of Operations and Rescue/Investigations, said he felt the sentence was appropriate. "It took a lot of courage for the jury to send this message," he said. "We respect their decision."
The dogs had been living in filthy conditions, many stuffed into small cages without food or water. Others were crammed in pens without shade or roaming loose. Most of the dogs were malnourished and infested with ticks and sores. Some were pregnant or sick, feeding off the carcasses of others. Investigators called it one of the most 'horrendous' cases of neglect they had ever seen."
One more thing: You regular readers and rescuers know that this sort of situation is not limited to the Piney Woods of East Texas. You can find horrible abuse right here in Dallas, across the Metroplex and in surrounding areas. People train dogs to fight. I'm told they use cats, kittens and puppies for "fighting bait." Other people neglect their "watchdogs" until they die. They also move and leave the animals staked out in the yard. They move and leave cats in waterless houses without food. These things are against the law -- there should be consequences for their actions.
OK, I'm getting down off the soapbox for a while -- I think it's about to cave-in, anyway. I've exceeded the U.S. Standards and Regulations Agency load limit for soapboxes. But, I'm really glad the Smith County folks found time to send someone to jail for being mean to animals.