Editorial: Animal abuse leniency goes way back here

Posted 12/14/17

Some were stunned when a prosecutor suggested probation all around for those facing charges for their actions in the horrific tenant “farm” animal cruelty discovered hidden away in the Westport …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Editorial: Animal abuse leniency goes way back here

Posted

Some were stunned when a prosecutor suggested probation all around for those facing charges for their actions in the horrific tenant “farm” animal cruelty discovered hidden away in the Westport woods.

They shouldn’t have been.

Prosecutors and courts here have a long history of brushing off heinous acts of cruelty to defenseless animals with the most gentle slaps to the wrist that they can devise.

The game plan at the court level seems to be …

• Express initial outrage and vow to see to it that justice is done

• Let time pass by offering little objection to defense stalling tactics

• Take into account “mitigating circumstances,” like, a felony conviction will cost me my job, I might get deported, I’m just a hard working farmer, I provide meat to church festivals, and that perennial favorite, “I loved my animals.”

Such “punishment” may have lots to do with the fact that Westport has developed a national reputation as a place where animals are treated badly.

Not for lack of voluminous evidence gathered by Westport Police, animal rights investigators and veterinarians, the record here speaks volumes to why those caught torturing animals don’t seem to have much fear in the way of consequences.

• Three years ago, a repeat offender was found to be keeping animals in revolting conditions in a Main Road house — six felony charges yielded Continuance Without Finding (CWOF) —no felony guilty finding needed — and probation.

• “Jersey Girl,” the small dog found wandering on Sanford Road … Her fur was encrusted with urine and fecal matter, she had so many bladder stones that she was urinating blood, and infections required removal of teeth and both eyes. Both defendants got CWOF.

• Again on Sanford Road, investigators found dead (two dogs, a cat and a lizard) and dying pets inside a house after the owners moved a short distance away in town and left them behind.

Both defendants got probation; one, a town hall employee, got CWOF.

• Most recently a prosecutor in the vast American Legion Highway case — the largest cruelty case ever on the northeast that drew condemnation from around the globe — suggested that she’d be happy with probation for all (when this went public, the AG’s office quickly insisted it takes the situation most seriously).

This case is more horrifying because it all happened six years earlier too — same place, some of the same players and same non-punishment. The ‘farmers’ merely waited for the dust to clear, not difficult given Westport’s utter lack of attention or interest, and went back to the business of mistreating animals.

Until the courts send a message that cruelty will not be tolerated, this misery is bound to continue.

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.