Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Short, Sad Life of Timothy

On a freezing cold night just seven days before Christmas in 2009, a motorist in southwestern Minnesota made a horrible discovery. A beautiful, 7-month-old kitten (later named Timothy) was stuck in the middle of the highway. Some horrible sadist had glued his paws to the pavement.

Volunteers at Second Chance Rescue took him in, but he died a few days later. Apparently, the poisonous glue got into his system and killed him.

Timothy is gone, but not forgotten. He was the victim of a system in which animal abusers are seldom punished for their crimes. So many people have committed ghastly crimes against animals. And in the rare cases these thugs are brought to trial, they're almost always released with only a slap on the wrist - if that. This is because we live in a society that has looked the other way at animal abuse.

This sort of tragedy repeats itself over and over again, in a thousand different communities across North America.

But there is another side to humanity. A number of donors have offered rewards for information leading to the capture of the sadists who murdered Timothy. In fact, the reward has grown to $10,000. One anonymous donor contributed $1,000 toward the reward money. The outpouring of support and sympathy for Timothy has been nothing short of remarkable.

There is also a movement in Minnesota to push for the passage of more stringent animal cruelty laws. As the Morris (Minnesota) Sun Tribune noted:

Just two days before Timothy was pulled from the roadway west of Mankato, Minn., the national Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) released a report ranking the states on their laws concerning animal abuse.

Minnesota ranked 15th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and someone arrested in connection with the Dec. 18 incident could face a felony charge because it involved intentional cruelty and resulted in the animal’s death, according to Stephan Otto, an attorney and legislative director with the California-based ALDF.

“They would be facing penalties of up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine,” Otto said Monday.

Minnesota has a more severe felony animal abuse charge available for cases where the animal torture is done to terrorize another person. That carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Conviction on a misdemeanor animal abuse charge in Minnesota carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a fine of $3,000, Otto said.

Tougher laws to protect animals are long overdue. Humane people who love animals can only accomplish so much. They need the legal system on their side, so that there is actually a deterrent against this kind of cruelty. As it is now, the fiends who committed this crime will likely go on hurting other animals simply because they can. Time to change the laws so the bad guys pay and the victims receive the protection under the law they deserve.

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