Do you think the punishment for the dog owners was good enough?
Yes
39.8% (37)
39.8% (37)
No
52.7% (49)
52.7% (49)
They should not have been punished
6.5% (6)
6.5% (6)
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Poll: Opinion on animal abusers

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Hi, I am a journalism student doing a news feature on this press release about a St Bernard dog that was sick, ignored and had starved to death. Here is the press release, but before clicking on it, please be aware of the graphical content (picture of the dead dog is shown in the article);

http://www.rspca.org.uk/media/pressreleases/details/-/article/PRESS_SickStBernardFoundDeadAndEmaciatedInGarden_11Apr12

Please let me know what you think of the punishments given to the dog owners. Is it enough? What do you think should have been done about this?

I know this is a little off-topic but I think the image is a little insensitive to the dog and to the readers. In my photography module I took last semester, I learned that one of the most offensive types of imagery is a picture of a dead body. If one of a human is used in any type of media, a moderator would deal with that. But with an animal, the same courtesy and consideration is not extended. I understand if you would not like to click the link because of this, so I have copied and pasted the article below without the image:

Sick St Bernard found dead and emaciated in garden

Starving pet thought to have eaten rubbish

Press release: Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The owners of a starving dog which is thought to have been so hungry it ate rubbish have been given a suspended jail sentence.

Marley the St Bernard was found dead in the back garden of a home in Roydon, Essex, after an RSPCA inspector was alerted.

A post mortem examination revealed she had no fat reserves and weighed just 32kg - a fifth of which was the weight of her skin.


There was no food in her stomach, indicating she had not been fed for at least 24 hours, but there were pieces of plastic or rubber where the hungry dog is thought to have been scavenging for rubbish to eat.

Her owners Nadine and Alan Lewis pleaded guilty to failing to investigate and address their pet's poor condition and were given a suspended prison sentence and were disqualified from keeping animals for life.

RSPCA inspector Steve Reeves found Marley's emaciated body in the couple's back garden on 9 January this year (2012).

He said: "It was shocking. She was literally skin and bones. A post mortem examination showed she had a tumour on her thyroid gland which would have caused her appetite to increase and any food she was getting not to be digested properly.

"A visit to the vets would have picked this condition up and she could have been treated but essentially she was starving because she didn't get the right nutrition."

"She had pieces of plastic in her stomach where she had probably been eating any old rubbish to satisfy her hunger."

Tragically Marley's thyroid problem could have been treated with medication or surgery but instead she is thought to have suffered for at least four weeks before her death.

In mitigation the couple said they had taken in Marley a few months earlier and she was in a poor condition but they were trying to feed her up.

Inspector Reeves added: "It was obvious that Marley was thin, her owners had asked advice of friends and other dog owners but they failed to ask the experts - a vet.

"Anyone who owns an animal has a legal responsibility to care for them, including taking them to a vet if they are ill.

The couple both pleaded guilty to a charge of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to investigate and address Marley's poor condition.

They received a 18- week prison sentence suspended for a year, were disqualified from keeping animals for life and were each ordered to pay 500 towards the RSPCA legal costs.

Alan Lewis, 48, was also ordered to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work and Nadine Lewis, 41, was given a curfew order for a month.

I'd like to know more before I pass judgement. I mean, what's going on that they had "taken her in" and were supposedly trying to "feed her up."
Why hadn't the fed the dog in the past day if they supposedly had good intentions? I mean, what are the owners thinking? Are they themselves unable to provide, or don't trust doctors, or what?

Unfortunately, there's not enough information on why they had taken her in. They had tried to feed her up but the dog had a tumour in her thyroid gland which would have been picked up if they had her checked up at a vets. What do you think? Should they have gone to the vets when they saw something was wrong with Marley? Was this really their fault? I'm trying to keep as neutral as possible so that I don't affect anyone else's opinions here.

I hope I answered your question correctly :)

p.s, as mentioned in the article, when you have ownership of a pet, you have a legal responsibility to take care of that pet, which includes taking them to the vet. This is where they failed and why they were given an 18-week sentence, a disqualification on owning future pets and charges towards the RSPCA

sorry, I should have posted my reply as a 'reply', not as a new post, this is just to alert you that I've replied in the post below yours :)

From what little I have to go off of...

Yes I believe that was a fine punishment. Even if they lied about attempting to help the dog. 18 weeks in prison, no more pets for them, a fine of 500 (about 800 dollars... I believe?), 160 hours of unpaid labor, and a curfew. Sounds like enough to deter them from doing it again. It is just a dog. =P.

And if they told the truth... then they really sucked at "feeding her up"

Edit: Not 18 weeks prison... unless they screw up again.

I'm not a fan of Animals, I don't own any and never plan to. But to miss-treat them and not look after them is pretty disgusting.

I do think they deserved the punishment (and that it was enough) as if you choose to have an Animal, you're the one who's responsible for it's well being. Too many people have Animals they cannot look after or treat like shit, it's depressing.

I answered no, but I thing that the sentence, had it not been suspended, would have been adequate. At least they've been banned from keeping other pets for life, so they can't do it again. :/

As an aside, I wouldn't worry too much about the image being graphic - it's unpleasant, but that fact that you've warned about it should be enough to stop anyone getting upset about it. There's another current thread about the most horrible webpages, so if that ain't causing offence, this one shouldn't

I thought the sentence was a little too harsh in my opinion, I mean 18 weeks in prison is a lot even if it is suspended for a year plus the extra work, they could easily end up unwittingly breaking a condition and ending up in the slammer. Starving an animal to death is pretty cruel true but I can hardly condemn them when I ate several products made from slaughtered animals today alone. I'm not entirely sure where I stand on the issue of animal rights but I can't help feeling that we shouldn't be wasting our taxes on arresting and punishing these people when there are still many many criminals out there who affect actual humans.

Whoever votes "No" never had a pet he loved.
Animal cruelty should be a felony, and a serious one on top.
Stop having your heads up your asses.

I don't think the punishment is good enough, mainly because the sentence was suspended. If it wasn't then it would have been suitable, but I'd also make it a longer sentence and a bigger fine, that poor dog suffered badly for a long time, dogs have emotions too and it was completely the fault of the humans that it died. That dog was their responsibility and it's disgusting that this happens often.

Whats so bad about animal abuse? People hurt other people all the time . And people> animals . Therefore , i think we should start by trying to stop people abuse before we try to stop animal abuse . I think our priorities are borked , thats just my opinion though . Can't help others if you can't help yourself . Also that punishment was way too harsh .

MrMixelPixel:
18 weeks in prison,

They didn't go to prison.

It was a suspended sentence meaning if they screw up again in that time THEN they go to prison.

I honestly don't know, nor if I should even care, since I'm probably a hypocrite because I eat meat that comes from slaughtered animals all the time, and no-one (except the militant vegetarians/vegans) gives a shit about that.

Thank you for all of your valuable opinions :) Also, I had not considered vegetarianism to fall into this. And not necessarily. I've met a few people who have volunteered and raised money for the RSPCA and Dogs Trust and also eat meat. Just because you care about an animal, doesn't necessarily make you a vegetarian.

I keep animals on a lesser priority level than humans, so I don't care too much if an animal dies. But to me, a death like that shows that the people in question can't care for animals properly. The fine and the disqualification of keeping pets is a sufficient punishment, but I don't think there's any need for the jail time.

prongsie91:
-snip-

Please let me know what you think of the punishments given to the dog owners. Is it enough? What do you think should have been done about this?[/quote]yes a 500 fine, prison time, doing 160 hours of work/having a curfew and being banned from owning a animal again is a punishment i actually consider OTT (especially after pleading guilty)

without getting into a big argument or going onto a rant prison is very ineffective when used criminals and sending some one to prison at all for mistreating a animal is stupid as hell
(although if anyone is interested in this let me know, my mother inspects a high-security prison and i'm planning to get her to write a thread on the prison system if enough people are interested)

let the fine stand, let the 160 hours work stand and let the bribe stand put drop the prison sentence and the /curfew (seriously, do i even need to explain why a curfew wont help in this case?)

i say this as a dog owner and as a person who likes dog's.

OT: in this situation i'd ban them from owning another animal (obviously good) and force them to work for the RSPCA and similar organisations for a full year, because they pleaded guilty so why not let them try and repent for what they did, they killed a dog so lets have them save some dogs why? because karma is a bitch (no pun intended) and they will probably develop a compassion for animal's after they are saving and helping suffering animals for afew month's

Yeah I'd say that seems about right - They're no longer allowed to keep pets, Ever, they're fined to cover the RSPCA's legal costs and they have been put on suspended sentence for a year which means its very likely they're doing a fair amount of community service AND they've got a curfew (which, if they fuck up, will land them in prison for 18 weeks)...also they can say hello to a Criminal Record which will quite happily fuck with their career/international travel AND they're going to be quite the social pariah; People hate animal abusers.

Any more than that and you're on the verge on becoming out for revenge which is the exact opposite of justice.

This greatly upsets me.

To all the people downplaying this saying humans supersede other species (and making some bizarre distinction between humans and "animals" as if you're not one lmao)... I say this, we humans are the dominant species on this planet... we claim to have developed morality and ethics, we have a responsibility to care for species we have domesticated because as a case like this shows... We literally have the power of life and death over these species.

Somebody above posted the words "it's just a dog".

Well you're just a primate, an ape, why should I care more about an ape than a dog?
Because I'm a primate too?

That's a stupid line of reasoning don't you think?

Should I care more about humans with white skin than other humans because I also have white skin?

Any creature capable of emotion, suffering and love/sorrow is just as deserving of humane treatment as you.

Jean Hag:
Whoever votes "No" never had a pet he loved.
Animal cruelty should be a felony, and a serious one on top.
Stop having your heads up your asses.

Uh... don't you have that the wrong way around? The question is whether or not you think the punishment is good enough, so choosing no would indicate that you wish they had a worse punishment. Or is it me that's confused?

Anyway, this kind of stuff is just sick. There's no excuse for it, even if you genuinely you cannot look after a pet after getting it there's always shelters you can take it to. Hell, even getting it put down is better than letting it starve to death. This seems like it has to have been intentional cruelty to me, there's no way a dog could have reached that kind of condition otherwise.

I think they should have been locked in stocks, unfed and regularly given public lashings. Anyone who uses their power as a human and keeper of animals to traps pets (or any animal or human) in an existence of misery, pain and despair deserves the same in kind.

Assuming that the statements of the people involved were at least reasonably honest, namely that they were trying, but were unaware of how serious it actually was, their sentence is reasonable. If not, and it was simple indifference, the sentence is quite insufficient.

This seems massively excessive on first glance, but then again I don't know all the facts. It was merely 24 hours of neglect - the dog had a thyroid condition. But then again, there may be more than meets the eye...

Seems like gross negligence through ignoracne.

First times the warning, next time they face the music.

Ugh. I do think that the punishment, from a legal standpoint, was just, since they can no longer own any pets. It could have down with more financial punishments.

That said, I wish someone would have beat the shit out of them before the law took over. They are worthless scum.

Rawne1980:

MrMixelPixel:
18 weeks in prison,

They didn't go to prison.

It was a suspended sentence meaning if they screw up again in that time THEN they go to prison.

You've overturned my ignorance good sir. Thank you.

Hrmmm... my previous opinions on the subject may be a bit flawed...

Legally, it was fair enough, but I hope they live with every shred of guilt that they deserve for the rest of their lives. The image of that poor dog burned into the every moment of their memories. I can't believe the stupidity and neglect they exhibited, it's a true show of their incapability as pet owners, and partly as human beings. There should have no doubt been a point within that month when trying to feed the dog showed no signs of helping and the dog continued to lose weight where the owners felt the need to see the vet. It shouldn't have taken a month if the dog lost that much weight. I don't feel that the punishment was right or wrong, it was fair, and that's all I can go to say, at least they were trying to feed the dog, the situation in Detroit with all the animals starving and without homes here, it's pretty bad. I just wish this one didn't have to suffer, the owners failed, and they deserve the punishment, though handing them a few weeks in jail would have been nice to see.

Who are the 4 sick bastards that said "They should not have been punished?"

It was a fair punishment, and deserved it. Animals deserve to be treated properly. If you're not going to do that, don't have a pet.

No, not nearly enough. I think abusing an animal is just as bad as abusing a child. Both of those things look to you as their only source of care in the world, to abuse something so powerless and completely under your control is one of the greatest sins a man can commit. Certainly worse than robbery. They should go to prison. Hard time.

Well they didn't just kill the dog, they tortured it. Slow and brutal. This at the very least warrants actual jail time, not a suspended sentence.

Nobody should starve to death, forced to eat garbage out of pure desperation. They should get the same punishment you would for doing this to any human. And don't come at me with "it's just an animal". A dog can feel pain just as much as we can, they can emote and they each have a unique personality. The fact that we're smarter doesn't make us better, it makes us more responsible.

A pet is incapable of getting food on it's own, if you are willing to take an animal into your home then it is your duty as a human to provide for that animals basic needs:Food, shelter, attention. There is no excuse for letting a pet starve, if you can't take care of one then give it to a shelter.
I have a large number of pets (cat, dogs, parrot) and I look at them the same way I would a child. The same basic principles apply, they are both helpless beings and you need to constantly be prepared to step in and help should something come up.

spartan231490:
No, not nearly enough. I think abusing an animal is just as bad as abusing a child. Both of those things look to you as their only source of care in the world, to abuse something so powerless and completely under your control is one of the greatest sins a man can commit. Certainly worse than robbery. They should go to prison. Hard time.

Damnit, beat me to it.

As nauseating as this was to me as an animal lover, I have to agree that the sentence was adequate. They were fined, banned from further animal ownership and given a suspended sentence. The facts of the case seem to make appear that they were making a misguided attempt at saving the animal. They failed and never took it to a vet. I don't see any reason to suspect it was a deliberate act of malice. If it was then I would suggest a psych eval in case they had other issues, animal abuse often being a red flag for other crap.

They did not murder a human, they did not destroy property, they did not commit fraud. I like animals but they do not have the same protection under law as people. I am fine with that.

Having said the above, if they are caught again, I would not at all object to a much more serious sentence

xSKULLY:
OT: in this situation i'd ban them from owning another animal (obviously good) and force them to work for the RSPCA and similar organisations for a full year, because they pleaded guilty so why not let them try and repent for what they did, they killed a dog so lets have them save some dogs why? because karma is a bitch (no pun intended) and they will probably develop a compassion for animal's after they are saving and helping suffering animals for afew month's

I approve but that might back-fire >.>. Emphasis on might, they'll probably change for the better.

Finally someone i agree with.
I just hope some day i can see animal abusers spending a good decade getting "abused" themselves by some Juan and John in the prison showers.

Death penalty for animal abusers. Of course, I think a lot of things should warrant the death penalty, and animal abuse is definitely one of them.

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