Should animal abusers receive harsher penalties?

Criminals found guilty of animal abuse in Alberta have been receiving little more than a slap on the wrist for far too long.

In Alberta, the maximum penalty guilty perpetrators can receive is a fine of $20,000 and restriction of animal ownership with only a possibility of jail time, no matter how severe the abuse. This, unfortunately, is just not enough for some cases of animal abuse.

Animal lover and SAIT student, Charis Hill, said she believes steps to avoid animal abuse and harsher penalties should be implemented.

Hill, being a proud new owner of a kitten named ‘Toast’ said she’s been around pets since youth.

“I’ve always had pets growing up,” said Hill. “I’ve always had animals in my life.”

Hill said she would not allow anyone to ever harm her kitten.

“I don’t even know what I’d do. I guess I’d call the authorities because animal abuse is illegal,” said Hill.

Despite having penalties, Hill said she wonders about the possibility of jail time for major cases.

Hill recalled an experience in her past where she came face-to-face with hard animal abuse, and it left a definite mark on her.

Outside a house in her childhood neighbourhood was a dog that was chained up. The canine was never brought inside, despite whatever snow or rain pounded the animal.

“It would always be chained up outside,” Hill said.

Hill said it was something that would stick with her forever.

“The dad came out of the house and began beating the dog because it was barking. I was really scared because I was young, and I had a dog at the time.”

Cases of animal abuse, including cruelty and neglect, are prominent in Alberta. Local cases have been found in Calgary. Samantha Zychowski, 21, was charged when a cat and a dog were found bound in a storage locker.

Another such case involved two men, the owner and manager of Riverfront Aquariums, neglecting the care of their animals, which resulted in the seizure of 333 sick, injured or dying creatures. The guilty parties received a $24,000 fine in total.

In both cases, dozens of animals were abused and neglected to the point of death, while their abusers were given small penalties in comparison to their crimes. A fine and a very small chance at jail time is not enough to dissuade cruel wastes of humanity from harming innocent creatures.

Recently, in Calgary, despite the legislation currently in effect, a cat was found bearing a serious gun wound to its leg. The cat, named Lexi, was missing for two years before being found and returned to her rightful owner.

This unfortunately is not a rare case, said Dr. Shelby Kimura, a doctor at the 24-hour Veterinary Hospital on McKnight.

“It does happen. Most commonly we see animals with BB pellets, but this is not that – I have no idea what kind of bullet it is because it’s just little fragments left within [Lexi’s] leg,” said Kimura.

Jail time should be more intense for any person found guilty of such an outrageous crime so that any possible perpetrators will be dissuaded. The current penalties in place are not enough to choke out the last cases of animal abuse.

Any cases of animal neglect or abuse should be reported to the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on their website. Stopping animal cruelty is more than just one step by one person. It’s a path that should be walked by everyone.

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