Earlier this year, I blogged about a spate of crimes against animals perpetrated by juveniles in Baltimore. These acts of cruelty ranged from the three children attacking and killing an 8-week-old puppy with belts and sticks, to a 13-year-old stoning a dog to death, to a pit bull being doused with gasoline and set on fire. Caroline Griffin, the head of the mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force, said at the time, “It is really alarming to see this kind of behavior in kids that are so young.”
Cruelty towards animals remains a problem in Baltimore. Yet based on a recent article in the Baltimore Sun, the city is beginning to take the issue more seriously. Baltimore’s Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force has spent over a year trying to figure out what is going wrong in the city. According to Task Force member Randall Lockwood, a forensic and animal cruelty expert with the ASPCA, Baltimore’s “got pretty decent laws.” The problem he sees is getting law enforcement to “to know what they are and how they can be used and then getting prosecutors to give a damn and judges to know what to do.”
Essentially, the problem is human ignorance and apathy, which allows human cruelty to thrive. That is why, as the Sun reported, “dozens of cats and dogs in the city are still being burned and beaten, stoned and starved, and only rarely is anyone being held accountable.”
Lockwood has ideas of how to make Baltimore less hellish for animals. He recommends the city follow the lead of New York City police and require officers to experience a minimum of four hours of training in abuse investigations and cruelty law. According to the Sun, “Lockwood would also like to see mandatory animal abuse education sessions for prosecutors and judges and a ‘courtwatch’ program so that people who are passionate about animal issues will be visible in the gallery, watching every cruelty case as it is tried.” Lockwood notes that “In Chicago, once a courtwatch was established, average sentences were longer and the percentage of convictions rose as well.”
While the problem of cruelty towards animals isn’t going to disappear in Baltimore (or anywhere else) overnight, the city is apparently making an effort to make the situation better. The fact that Randall Lockwood’s proposals are being publicized and considered is clearly a step in the right direction.
Tell the Baltimore Police Department that you support the proposal to educate officers on animal abuse investigation and law.
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