A Look At Alabama's 8-Year Old Beefed Up Animal Cruelty Law

Alabama Lawmakers Put More Teeth In Animal Cruelty Law 8 Years Ago. Is It Working?
Alabama Lawmakers Put More Teeth In Animal Cruelty Law 8 Years Ago. Is It Working?

It is always a shocking thing to see. A defenseless dog abused like the one in Monroe County, an 8-month-old puppy allegedly dragged a half-mile by a man driving a stolen 3-wheeler.

"Man's inhumanity to man is what I think of. I've never seen this done on purpose," said Monroeville veterinarian Dr. John Grider who is treating the Rottweiler mix.

Therein lies the rub. The new animal cruelty law approved 8 years ago was designed to severely punish those who deliberately torture animals, and yet today there seems to be no collective data to show how many people statewide have been convicted on the new law or how many have been given the maximum 10-year sentence.

In Montgomery County there have been 36 convictions this year alone and the sentencings have ranged from suspended jail time to community service. So much depends on the facts of each case and to what degree the animal was abused, according to Montgomery Humane Society Executive Director Steven Tears. Those convicted on the first degree animal cruelty charge are eligible for the 10 year sentence. The second degree charge is considered a misdemeanor.

"It's a proven fact that people who abuse animals will hurt people," Tears said.

That's why Tears thinks in many cases jail time would not be appropriate if you can educate suspects early about compassion and the proper care of animals.

"You put them in jail with other convicts and they won't come out as better people," said Tears.

But make no mistake. Steven Tears supports the new version of the law. The case involving 'Louis Vuitton' (not the fashion designer but the pit bull) intentionally set on fire by his owner after the man's family wouldn't let him drive the family car. The beefed-up law is expected to come into play if suspect Juan Daniels is convicted.

Right now Daniels remains in the Montgomery County Jail and a trial date hasn't been set.

'Louis,' meantime, is with a foster family at an undisclosed location and is expected to be used  as evidence in Daniels' trial.