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What do you think the penalty for animal cruelty should be?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on August 30, 2006

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Photo of Jenifer Harmon

“That’s easy: the death penalty.”

Photo of Cyrus Dayani

“I think it should be a misdemeanor with at least 50 hours of community service for the first offense, a hard 40 for the second.”

Photo of Dewayne Hambright

“I’m an animal lover, so I think it should definitely be a felony. It’s wrong to hurt animals, period. They’re the same as us. They have a heartbeat. They have the same blood.”

Photo of Andi Smith

“I think they should have to do jail time and not just get out of it by paying a fine. Paying a fine won’t teach them anything.”

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lunacydetector 11 years, 3 months ago

the bookseller sounds a little harsh. the bouncer, not harsh enough self-employed, i think my blood is different than an animal's. server, i'm going with the server, but i might add i think the culprit should get an intense psychological evaluation and treatment.

Nikki May 11 years, 3 months ago

I think the self-employed guy sounds like he's vegetarian. I don't think you can make that statement and still eat a burger later. But, I agree with lunacydetector's logic.

jonas 11 years, 3 months ago

Some time in the stockades. I'll bring the rotten eggs.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 3 months ago


Cruel and Unusual? Yep Deserved? Yep

sgtwolverine 11 years, 3 months ago

The real question is: what should be the penalty for human cruelty by animals?

sunflower_sue 11 years, 3 months ago

They should be forced to wear an animal costume and stand on a corner and wave to a business that is 1 day away from filing bankruptcy. (Oh, I guess somebody already said so many words.) Sure, bring Katie, too. And balloons, lots of balloons!

In all seriousness, it would depend entirely on the situation, the level of cruelty, and the type of animal involved. I still want to be able to set a mousetrap.

killjoy 11 years, 3 months ago

Don't forget roundabouts. It should involve roundabouts!

middleoftheroader 11 years, 3 months ago

of course its cruel and unusual to harm an animal. but since when does the constitution give animals rights? morality needs to stay out of the law.

Topside 11 years, 3 months ago

I didn't know the Grim Reaper opened up a bookstore in town. Yikes, ease back on the punishment there starshine. I would totally expect that comment from someone pretentious enough to only put one "n" in their name.

Todd 11 years, 3 months ago

Animals aren't people. Thought I'd drop in a little refresher for folks that seem to be confused. Animals are property and the punishment should match that given for damaging property.

Since animal cruelty is a predictor of violence against actual people perhaps probation is in order also.

Tychoman 11 years, 3 months ago


A day with Marion AND Kaliwarminius.

Topside, blame her parents for their pretentiousness. Just remember an ounce of pretention is worth a pound of manure. Besides it's not near as frustrating as people that spell Cindy with that insufferable "i" at the end so it's CindI. or Ashly or Ashlee or some weird spelling like that. Now those people are just sick. But this girl sounds like my kind of person.

ms_canada 11 years, 3 months ago

I have always thought that a person who deliberately harms a defenseless animal is the lowest form of human life and no punishment that the law metes out is too much. From the article it seems that the punishment is most appropriate, but if I was the one meting out the punishment, the perpetrater would not know what the heck hit him. I would give no quarter.

Kat Christian 11 years, 3 months ago

I'm an animal lover but don't feel they are the same as a human and their blood may be red but it is certainly different than a human's. I think animals at some point feel emotion, happiness, pain and suffering as humans do or most humans at least because there are some humans that own up to human emotion, remorse or otherwise. I think if someone tortures and kills an innocent animal they should get jail time and have a psychological evaluation and be made to go through treatment program. Because who would be next on their sadistic list another human?

clutterbug 11 years, 3 months ago

That's a groaner, R_I. Nice.

Though, I'm pretty sure Jen wasn't entirely serious. I've seen her squish a spider.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 3 months ago

Maybe it should be a rogaine overdose. "I hereby sentence you to be a Chia Pet on steroids."

ms_canada 11 years, 3 months ago

I'm with sgtwolverine on the punishment. See how they feel.

mztrendy 11 years, 3 months ago

I once picked the legs of a grasshopper. Am I going to jail???

tnfats 11 years, 3 months ago

The punishment should definitely include psychological examinations at a minimum. A slap on the wrist 'fine' won't address the real problem: Animal cruelty is often a precurser to other acts of violence including child, spouse or partner abuse. Check out the literature by Ascione or Lockwood.

P.S. Before the "theys just librul PETA hippies so theys wrong" starts, you shold know that, no they aren't. They're mulitple discipline PhDs and well respected by the law enforcement, social welfare and vetinary communities.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 3 months ago

Wicked Witch of the West: [as she is melting away] "Ohhhhh... What a world! What a world!"

as_I_live_and_breathe 11 years, 3 months ago

I hope selfemployed is not a phebotomist or an human organ transporter.....

Oh you need a kidney? here ya go fresh off a cat....

susannalee 11 years, 3 months ago

It's true, the bookseller squishes spiders. I've watched her do it for over 30 years. Finally, I can speak up, finally there looks to be an end to the genocide.

The main reason I hate my own uber-left community - failure to recognize sarcasm.

ryn 11 years, 3 months ago

The punishment should be 100 hours of lecture by animal lovers (along the lines of self-employed's answer, but longer) and slides from

number3of5 11 years, 3 months ago

The penalty for animal cruelty should fit each crime. If someone intentionally starves horses, he should be made to work in a stable for a year or two. If someone breeds and fights dogs they should be made to work in a shelter for dogs for a year or two. But to try to kill a rabbit for food is not cruelty. Perhaps he did not know the proper way to dispatch the rabbit, and did not seek this information, but cruelty I don't think so. If the animal was not his, he should be made to pay restitution for the animal, not serve jail time or pay a huge fine.

kujeeper 11 years, 3 months ago

The book seller lady is nuts.... I am with Gootsie, make them spend a week with Marion and the book seller. If they don't jump off a bridge, the will probably throw themselves to the mountain lion on wouldn't hurt as bad as Marion's ranting.

I_dew 11 years, 3 months ago

I find it interesting, and often disturbing, to see the level of emotion and the abandonment of objectivity that often accompanies discussion of human interaction with inferior life forms.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 3 months ago

Define "inferior life forms." I mean, up here in Michigan, that might be Ohio State grads or something.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 3 months ago

I love how all these peace& love people want to kill if it awakens their cute little outrage....freakin hypocrites, given the right circumstance you all would wear hoods and torture people.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 3 months ago

(Yes, I'm ready for football season. How'd you know?)

sgtwolverine 11 years, 3 months ago

Well, TOB, they get diplomas. Not sure what the standards are for them. A pulse?

sgtwolverine 11 years, 3 months ago

Incidentally, this got more humorous for me recently because a friend of mine is going to grad school at OSU. She is not converting to the dark side, but she still goes to school there. It makes the academic jokes better.

as_I_live_and_breathe 11 years, 3 months ago

TOB thanks for the link... Hysterical! But Really bad publicity for the tv show BIG LOVE

sgtwolverine 11 years, 3 months ago

TOB, I have confidence that you would use "Hot enough for ya?" (or, for winter, "Cold enough for ya?") every now and again to add some variety.

RonBurgandy 11 years, 3 months ago

The cruelty inflicted should be returned to the inflictor.

badger 11 years, 3 months ago

I think punishment should fit the severity of the crime. Someone who beats or neglects an animal without causing lasting harm should get a misdemeanor and community service for a first offense, but someone who is a repeat offender or severely injures or neglects an animal should get more severe penalties, including psychiatric evaluation (and mandated treatment if it's determined to be part of a serious mental issue) and jail time.

I also believe that the ASPCA and the Humane Society need to keep a publicly available blacklist of severe and repeat offenders, so that people who are conscientious about who they give or sell animals to can be aware that someone was convicted of a serious abuse charge. I know that if I were a dog breeder, I certainly would want to know that the friendly woman wishing to buy one of my dogs, who seems like the nicest person in the world, was convicted of animal abuse and neglect in another state.

Ceallach 11 years, 3 months ago

middleoftheroader: all law is made up of moral judgments, it's just a matter of whose morals.

I think jail time, fine and psychological evaluation should be rendered at the first offense, and increased exponentially thereafter. The Jeffrey Dahmers of this world should teach us something. People who can dissassociate from the value of life to the point of torturing an animal are not far away from striving for the next level -- humanity -- and they usually start with the most vulnerable. Will they change? Personally I doubt it -- but at least there will be markers on them with the PD.

denali 11 years, 3 months ago

I believe in the right to arm bears.

bunnyhawk 11 years, 3 months ago

Wake up people!

We have national policies condoning the torture of PEOPLE..........HUMAN BEINGS!!!!!! and we put up with that! but we're all down with a FELONY prosecution over a RABBIT?????????

PERSPECTIVE.............PRIORITIES!!! Yes, we should protect animals from abuse...............but shouldn't we protect CHILDREN and 'enemy combatants' from abuse and torture first????????????????????????????

I_dew 11 years, 3 months ago

While I do not disagree with the need for concern about the abuse of animals, I am often puzzled as to why many individuals choose to expend their resources defending the rights of animals while humans are suffering abuse, even slaughter, in local and international arenas.

paladin 11 years, 3 months ago

Cause they all have been designated fascist terrorists and we're afraid of them.

paladin 11 years, 3 months ago

Same reason people kill spiders and snakes when there's no need to. To demonstrate, to ourselves, who gots de power.

pastorzack 11 years, 3 months ago

God's word doesn't allow cruelty to animals in a capricious or malicious way but neither does it allow us to treat animals as if they are on a par with humans who are created in his image. Solomon noted, in the book of Proverbs, that the animals of the righteous are well cared for but we find penalties for accidental and malicious harm to animals much less than penalties for harming human beings. Thus, if I have a dog wander into my yard that is pregnant and there is no earthly use for the puppies I would put them down but not with a vet's help at 50-80 dollars apiece. Years ago my father-in-law put many puppies down by drowning, choking and the like. All of which is humane to dispose of unwanted and unnecessary animals.

sweetpeagj 11 years, 3 months ago

I honestly think it depends on the amount of abuse or suffering. I personally own seven birds, and I only purchased one of them. The others I took from homes that decided the fad of the moment was over so they got tired of them and just neglected them. These are animals that can live over fifty years if in good health. People need to think about what the price is as far as care, expense, needs, playtime, travel, (my case evacuations from hurricanes). This case seems to be silly in the statement he placed him in a plastic bag then tried to break his neck. The rabbit was the pet of BOTH roomates and the guy decided for whatever reason he was done with the pet and tried to get rid of it. Lovers spat with female roomate? The story doesn't get to the truth of why this really happened so maybe a psych eval might. For those of you wanting tougher laws for abuse of children and all that I agree 100%. They are going to run this story to the end but little Johnny who gets the crapped knockef out of him daily and gets fed once or twice at home a week we try and try to keep them with the abuser because we all know growing up with our biological parents is the best way. (sarcasm inflicted)

sunflower_sue 11 years, 3 months ago

bunnyhawk, those rabbits have a vicious streak a mile wide!

sgtwolverine 11 years, 3 months ago

Hey, on a completely unrelated topic, we have exciting times up here in Michigan. Detroit public school teachers are on strike! Good times.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 3 months ago

prospector, You could take the "World According to Garp" outlook on buying that house..."What are the odds that that will ever happen there again?"

Centrist 11 years, 3 months ago

Am so sick of people who say that animals are a lower form of life. Sure, they don't talk like us, or walk like us, or overpopulate and over-urbanise the friggin planet like us (hint hint!), but they are living, breathing creatures, as we are.

Yes, they have thoughts (or instincts). My dogs have a great ability to "get back at me" when they feel left out, or left behind, or whatever. They're not stooopid, they just function differently! Sometimes they're "more human than human" (thanks Rob Zombie).

Yes, they have blood. ObViOuSlY the bouncer guy meant that they have blood, as we do, not 'exactly' as we do! Where are your brains, LJWorld readers?

Yes, they feel PAIN!! Dogs, cats, etc. They feel pain.

And as far as I'm concerned, anyone who can wilfully hurt an animal deserves the harshest punishment society can give them.

That's it. Rant over.


sgtwolverine 11 years, 3 months ago

Centrist, the bouncer did say, "They have the same blood." I don't think your interpretation is really that obvious. Er, ObViOuS.

RonBurgandy 11 years, 3 months ago

centrist and sgt - you both are wrong, it was the self employed guy that said they have the same blood.

popadiajoan 11 years, 3 months ago

The penalty for cruelty to animals should be the same as that meted out to those who procure an abortion or knowingly cause an abortion.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 3 months ago

Oops. I should know better than to post when I'm busy. I tend to get careless. Thanks for the correction, Ron.

Centrist 11 years, 3 months ago

Oops, the self-employed guy then.

And Sgt, obviously you missed MY point!

My point was that the INTENT of the Self-employed guy was that animals have blood, as we do, not exactly the same, therefore to point out that we are not all that different from the animals. I think he was trying to "humanise" animals for us.

Now, think some more before you some back with SaRcAsm .. haha

RonBurgandy 11 years, 3 months ago

RonBurgandy - Self-proclaimed moderator of this board (some of the time).

snoozey 11 years, 3 months ago

Make them read the postings on this thread..

beatrice 11 years, 3 months ago

I think people who torture animals should be made to crawl through a long tunnel filled with razor blades, only to emerge into a room where they must quickly choose between attacks from rabid weasels or jumping into a vat filled with table salt. Or at least some jail time.

Spiders and snakes are not representatives of the animal kingdom -- they represent insects and reptiles. To compare stepping on a spider with beating a dog to death is like comparing apples and shoe laces. Beside, the book seller was almost certainly joking.

Bunny, are you SAYING that since the feds ALLOW torture in times of WAR (something I am against), we shouldn't PUNISH people who torture animals FOR sport????????????????????? THAT IS JUST GOOFY!!!!!!!! For your comment, I think you should be forced to spend a month with Marion ... AND Lulu!

I_dew 11 years, 3 months ago

With all due respect, if we were to set the standard of equality with humans at having blood we would be obligated to include earthworms and starfish. If we consider the ability to feel pain as the qualifier, birds, likely fish, and perhaps cephalopods would also make the list. The move to anthropomorphize other living creatures due to a few similarities in physiological features or sensory processing, while tempting for some, ignores the vast differences between most creatures and humans, and is indicative of psychological projection of desired traits onto neutral targets.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 3 months ago

RI, don't need to take care of bunnies. Got a doggie that lives to hunt them. Remember...I'm the idiot who felt sorry for a baby bunny that mommy rejected (or doggie killed) and bottle fed it for a week before it finally went to bunny Heaven. My problem is with those territorial squirrels.

paladin 11 years, 3 months ago

Would someone, please, PUT ME DOWN! I just can't deal with all this anymore. Insanity here, insanity there, insanity all about the square. The world's gone nut-so. And I tried to phone up the Lord God Jehovah just now; the phone has been disconnected and He evidently has departed to regions unknown. The line was dead. Get it? Hopeless.

H_Lecter 11 years, 3 months ago

I'm tired of animals being thought of as a lower, less important form of life. They rate high on my scale!

I think of them as my delicious little friends. They are important to us all; protein is required for a balanced diet!

I love them while their alive too, because the meat stays fresh without refrigeration.

Bon Appetit!

paladin 11 years, 3 months ago

Would someone PLEASE tell me who We are at "War" with? Each other?

killjoy 11 years, 3 months ago


Would you kindly keep your whiney sniveling little upper middle-aged comments to yourself. Your crackpipe inspired line of drivel is so insipidedly shallow and stupid that I'm sure everyone here wishes ill on you.

P.S. The navy is for girls!

There, is that what you wanted? I'm just trying to make you happy, absolutely no offense meant....doodoohead

sgtwolverine 11 years, 3 months ago

Centrist, I caught your point -- it is that you are making an interpretation of his words. That was clear. I simply think you're reaching a bit, considering the words he actually spoke. Perhaps he intended to say that animals are like us because they also have blood -- a bit of an odd thing to say, anyway -- but that's not really what he seemed to have said. I accept that you are making an interpretation, but I do not accept that your interpretation is as obvious as you think it is.

Unless you are Dewayne Hambright, in which case I'm glad you're here to clarify your words.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 11 years, 3 months ago

I love animals. I agree with Jen! I detest bullies, or anyone that picks on someone or something that cannot defend itself. Hurting animals is right at the top of my teach 'em a lesson list. As a bumper sticker I read recently said "the more i see people, the more I like my dog". Thank you, Lynn

beatrice 11 years, 3 months ago

H-L: "I love them while their alive too, because the meat stays fresh without refrigeration." LOL!

kg52 11 years, 3 months ago

I am certainly an animal lover but some of you have given me something to ponder. I have a real thing about mice, for example. If one is in my house I will go nuts and set traps (used to use poison but now I have a kitty). However, if the cat has one in the yard batting it around (play before the kill) I will distract her so the little creature can get away. I love the cat and I know it is her nature but I can't stand to watch her kill/injure a living thing. I have rescued rodents, birds and a baby bunny. I guess I do have a double standard.

Back to the subject - I think intentional meaningless harm to animals needs severe punishment - to what extent I'm not sure I am smart enough to figure that out. If it was an animal I loved nothing could be bad enough.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 3 months ago

so you let the cat beat the mouse to an unch of it's life then let it go? So it can take days to die instead of an hour? just step on the damm thing!

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