Editorial: No justice for animals

Posted 9/29/17

The penalty for subjecting your pets to slow and agonizing death by neglect?

Not much around here, it seems.

Investigators are justifiably outraged that a Fall River District Court judge has …

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Editorial: No justice for animals

Posted

The penalty for subjecting your pets to slow and agonizing death by neglect?

Not much around here, it seems.

Investigators are justifiably outraged that a Fall River District Court judge has allowed two animal cruelty defendants off with a most gentle slap.

Charged with six felonies apiece of animal cruelty (each charge carrying a potential five-year prison sentence), one pleaded guilty and got probation, the other got probation — and didn’t even have to plead guilty. It’s almost as though it never happened.

Except that it did.

Most of the photos of what went on inside 644 Sanford Road are way too gruesome for publication. Suffice it to say that two dogs, a cat and a lizard died amidst filth in slow and awful fashion — it’s not clear whether the precise cause of death was thirst, starvation or flea bites (probably all three).

They died because their owners moved a short distance down the road and left the animals behind.

Westport Police and investigators from outside groups gathered compelling and revolting evidence in the case.

But before any of it could be presented in open court, prosecutors and defense struck a plea deal — and then the judge watered that down further by allowing one defendant, a town employee, off without a guilty plea.

People ponder how it is that Westport (and this town is scarcely alone) seems fated to forever endure the shame of startling cruelty within its borders.

‘There ought to be a law!’ someone invariably shouts with each fresh revelation.

But there are laws, tough ones. What is lacking is the gumption, whether by prosecutors, judges or both, to pursue the penalties at their disposal.

As one detective said, telling the court how much you loved the animals you tortured just doesn’t cut it. It certainly wouldn’t cut it if the victim was human.

Tough laws or not, animals don’t seem to count for much in our courthouses.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.