Monday, February 4, 2013

Alabama Residents - The animals & AVRAL need you!

Alabama Residents - The animals & AVRAL need you!  Many of the issues in AL are not unique to our state, but they are WRONG and changes need to be made.  If you need a reason to join AVRAL, here's a short list:

1) State legislators refused to pass a single animal welfare bill in 2012:
·         The cockfighting bill died thanks to filibusters
·         Abuse/neglect reporting for animal welfare professionals (e.g. vets & ACOs) killed because the definition of abuse was thought to be  "PETA extremist" by legislators.
·         Bill to ban bestiality was "lost in the pipeline" of bills being rushed through at the end of the session.

2) Alabama's low-cost spay/neuter clinics are endangered:
·         In 2011, the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (ASBVME) began trying to close down the Alabama Spay/Neuter clinics. 
·         In early 2012, HB 156 was introduced to protect the clinics and keep them open.  The spay/neuter clinic protection bill died for one reason - Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (Lee County) refused to let it go to the floor for a vote.  Had it gone to a vote, it would have passed. 
·         In October 2012, ASBVME met to vote on closing the clinics.  Thanks to news coverage; a large attendance by citizens & media; email, letters & faxes; and those who spoke at the meeting, ASBVME members declined to vote.  They will likely try again at some point.

3) Abuse and neglect are rampant - a few stories from 2012:
·         Dog euthanized because of being driven insane by being chained 24/7.  This dog's miserable past had wasted his body and destroyed his temperament. His life had been surrounded by the most cruel form of abuse - absolute neglect and isolation.  And there is no law against it. 
      - News Article: | Picture:
·         Animal advocates had to 'fight' behind the scenes for months for the Blountsville Police to open an investigation and the DA to bring the case to the Grand Jury for indictment. - (Note: article does not mention the work of the advocates; that info is from AVRAL)
·         Over 200 starving animals (some dead) at Summerdale Purple Heart “Rescue” -
·         Animal cruelty at the Calhoun Co. Animal Control Facility -
·         Organized dog fighting in Walker County -
·         Countless dogs starve in plain view of Walker County, AL residents, officials -
·         Prichard, AL: Abandoned, abused dog chained to tree in full sight for 3 weeks -
4) There is NO Alabama agency that investigates or oversees substandard animal pounds/shelters.:
·         Rotting corpses, Dog Pound dumpster; discarded pregnant Beagle begs for shelter -
·         Mobile County Animal Shelter (MCAS) killed 49 dogs - including those that had been recently adopted - because of 1 sick dog -
·         MCAS does not quarantine or vaccinate upon intake -

5) Out of 50 states + 6 territories, Alabama ranks in the bottom tier at #43 according to the ALDF -

The 2013 legislative session starts soon.  AVRAL will be presenting legislation and we expect some pushback from rather disappointing "groups." Without BIG NUMBERS, we can't help Alabama's animals. 

Join Alabama Voters for Responsible Animal Legislation (AVRAL) if you are sick and tired of the way animals are treated in Alabama. We can change laws. We can elect people who care about animals. Join today - it's free and easy. Go to

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Grow a Pair and Speak for the Animals

On November 18, 2012, two severely emaciated American Pit Bull Terriers were surrendered to Detroit Bully Corps.  Angel died of starvation, and Shiner is expected to make a complete recovery. 

Their 18-year-old owner, Lisa Marie Precourt, pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty charges on January 2 after waiving her right to trial and right to counsel.  She faces a maximum sentence of one year and 93 days in jail, plus fines and community service if she is convicted.  It is expected that she will be sentenced to probation, pay restitution, and be barred from owning pets.

One of two articles about the case states:

[...] Michigan has some of the toughest animal abuse laws in the country, but getting cities to enforce them on the local level has been a challenge.

This problem is not unique to Michigan, no matter how good (or bad) the laws are.  What it comes down to is cities not pursuing justice.  I've seen many cases where the laws allow for a decent punishment and yet the judge hands out a soft slap on the wrist.  I've also seen many cases where plea deals resulted in punishment far less than the defendant could – and should – have received.  Thankfully this is not always the case – some judges do give the max, sometimes even stating they wish they could give them a harsher punishment.  But …

What is the point of having these laws and their associated punishments when District Attorneys and judges don't or won't give the max?  What kind of statement do the more lenient punishments make?

Yes, each and every case is unique, and sometimes there are facts/circumstances that need to be taken into consideration.  Precourt’s case is one of those times.  At age 18, she is living on her own, going to school, and working two jobs.  She now admits that she never should have had the dogs in the first place.  Only time will tell if she is being sincere, or if she’s blowing smoke.  I truly hope it’s the former.

Precourt’s case aside, we have a serious problem with the justice system and the sentences handed down in cases of animal abuse, cruelty and/or neglect.  In some states, the problem lies with the laws themselves – either the penalties are too lenient, or laws don’t even exist in the first place.  It’s hard to sentence offenders to punishment when either a law and/or an appropriate penalty do not exist.

In states with appropriate laws and penalties, it’s the justice system at fault.  District Attorneys cut plea deals.  Judges give sentences so lenient that it’s nothing more than a joke.  The taxpayers foot the bill for a case (investigation + trial (plus often the cost of incarceration of the offender)) that results in what amounts to a waste of time and money.

The bottom line: State legislatures need to put tough laws with tough penalties into place.  Cities need to pursue true justice.  Taxpayers need to let their elected officials know this is what they want – and be prepared to act (e.g. vote them out of office) when they don’t do it.

Come on everyone, grow a pair and speak for the animals.