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Tougher laws considered for animal cruelty

Published On: Mar 25 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 27 2013 07:26:17 AM CDT

Tougher laws considered for animal cruelty

Investigators want to know who left a dog to die outside a PETCO in Easton over the weekend.

But even if the guilty party was found would the punishment fit the crime?

"It's terrible you could see all the bones," Wendy Benedict described.

Saturday several employees found the severely neglected Chinese Crested abandoned in box in front of the Easton PETCO.

"Dog didn't get that way in a few days it was months of neglect," Benedict went on to say.

Despite best efforts from vets and a warm bath and a bed, the little dog, dubbed Bracha, Hebrew for blessing, died shortly after.

Wendy Benedict of The Center for Animal Health and Welfare, the shelter who took Bracha in, says cases like this are all too common.

"If we had to average it's once a week she said.

In Pennsylvania animal fighting and killing a zoo animal are the only animal cruelty cases that are felonies. However if someone willfully and maliciously kills and torture's a pet more than once it can rise to level of a felony.

However, the ASPCA says in most cases animal abusers receive a punishment and fine akin to a parking ticket.

Northampton County District Attorney, John Morganelli told us in his tenure, he can't remember a case he's prosecuted where someone went to jail for abusing an animal.

"It's hard to follow laws when they're not there," Cassy Shrantz said.

Shrantz would know. As a Humane Society police officer she has little power to stop abusers.

"I go to a lot of houses where animals are in a horrible situation and nothing I can because won't let me in the house," she explained.

"Do animal cruelty laws in the state have to be stricter?" I asked State Senator Lisa Boscola.

"Absolutely," she said.

Boscola says several laws are being discussed in Harrisburg that would levy harsher punishments on those abusing animals.

"We have to give police officers, District Attorneys ability to look at the law and prosecute and go after the individuals abusing animals," she went on to say.

The Humane Society ranks Pennsylvania 17th in the country for its animal abuse laws, based mostly on dog fighting and sticker puppy law mills, a spokesman told us.

New state laws could include giving prosecution power to humane officers and increasing first offenses to misdemeanors. These could carry a heavier fine and possible jail time.

But for those like Bracha, it may be too little too late.