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Tag: susie’s law

Letter draws attention to neglect case

Caswell County Courthouse

Rural Caswell County is prosecuting its first suspect under North Carolina’s tougher animal cruelty statute, known as Susie’s Law, but the case — in which three dogs starved to death while chained – is drawing little media attention.

Jimmy Lee Spears was charged with three felony animal cruelty counts, accusing him of willfully killing the dogs by “intentional deprivation of necessary sustenance” — namely, food and water.

All three dogs were found dead, chained and huddled together in the same doghouse.

But neither state nor local news media have reported on the case, according to a Feb. 22 letter to the editor of the Caswell Messenger, written by Karen Schneider, a board member of the animal shelter in Yanceyville.

“My husband and I found out about this case only because of our board member involvement with the animal shelter (APS) in Yanceyville. The three dead emaciated dogs were brought to the shelter by animal control on January 24th,” she wrote.

While praising the new law, which makes willful cruely to animals a felony, Schneider points out in her letter that tougher penalties won’t have much deterrent effect if such cases are not publicized.

“…There is something crucial missing in the handling of the Spears case and that is, no one seems to know about it … There have been no reports in the newspapers covering the details … This is a first test case of Susie’s Law for our county. Little benefit will result if it tiptoes quietly through the court system,” she added.

An Internet search reveals no news reports on the case, only Schneider’s letter and Facebook postings.

While no article on the case has appeared to date in the weekly Messenger, more than 50 residents have posted comments on Schneider’s letter.

The wheels of justice: Chamberlin’s Law

A state senator in North Carolina has introduced legislation that would makes recklessly neglecting a pet a crime.

Sen. Don Vaughan, a Greensboro Democrat, filed what he dubbed “Chamberlin’s Law” on the opening day of the General Assembly session, according to the Greensboro News-Record.

The bill would allow criminal charges to be brought against pet owners who “recklessly” neglect their pets, as opposed to the current law, which allows just those accused of doing so “maliciously” or “intentionally” to be prosecuted.

“They’re living things,” Vaughan said of dogs. “And they’re different from having a desk or a chair. They’re actually living beings in God’s world, and we ought to take care of them at least to a minimum standard.”

The bill has been named after Chamberlin, a black and white pit bull mix who was severely neglected — left in a backyard in High Point among tall weeds along with another dog. The other dog, who had been tethered, became so sick it had to be euthanized. Chamberlin was in bad shape, as well.

“His front legs had fused together,” said Marsha Williams, executive director of the Guilford County Animal Shelter. He was unable to walk when he arrived at the shelter in December, but was still wagging his tail, she said.

Since then he has put on weight and in coming weeks he will be fitted with a wheelchair to support the weight of his front legs, which no longer function.

The dog’s care was paid for with donations, some of which came from a fund established in the name of Susie — a dog that was beaten and lit on fire. The judge refused to sentence the perpetrator in that case to jail time because it was his first offense. The public outcry that followed led to ”Susie’s Law,” which increased the penalties for animal cruelty and gave judges discretion to sentence even first-time offenders to active jail time in certain cases.

The owner of Chamberlin is facing charges in Guilford County court, but under current laws, prosecutors will have to prove the dog’s owners intentionally or maliciously let him waste away.

Chamberlin’s law would switch that standard to “recklessly,” which is easier to prove.

In addition to making cruelty cases easier to prosecute, the bill also would set minimum standards for the shelter that dogs must have if they are kept outside and give judges the power to seize animals and order psychiatric evaluations in animal neglect and cruelty cases.

Sen. Austin Allran, a Hickory Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee to which the measure has been assigned, said the bill could face an uphill battle. In the past, hunting and dog breeding groups have fought similar measures.

(Photo: Nelson Kepley / Greensboro News-Record)

Susie’s Law signed in North Carolina

Susie, an 8-week-old puppy when she was tortured, burned and left to die in Greensboro last summer, yesterday became the first dog to sign a piece of legislation in North Carolina — one aimed at protecting her kind.

Gov. Bev Perdue signed the animal cruelty prevention bill known as Susie’s Law. Susie, a pit bull mix wearing pearls and pink nail polish for the occasion, then put her paw print on the bill.

“Today, we make our homes better and our streets safer for the people who inhabit this state,” said Perdue. “No matter if they have two legs or four legs.”

It was about a year ago when Susie was tortured, set on fire and left for dead in Greensboro. Her ears were singed off and she was covered in maggots by the time she was found, about two weeks after the beating, which left her with missing teeth and a broken jaw, according to the Greensboro News & Record.

Lashawn Whitehead, 21, of Greensboro, was convicted and sentenced to probation.

Susie’s new owner, Donna Lawrence, was one of the forces behind the legislation, wanting to make sure that anyone who tortured a dog in the future would have to pay with jail time.

Under the new law, any malicious abuse, torture, or killing of animals becomes a Class H felony, punishable by up to 10 months in jail.

“This law will also protect, I believe, North Carolina’s people,” said Perdue. “The data is pretty clear. For those of you who don’t know the data, people who are actually cruel and do this kind of stuff to animals, are five times more likely to do this kind of thing to a human being.”

Perdue’s dog’s Dosie and Zipper also looked on as the bill became law.

(Photo: Lynn Hey / Greensboro News & Record)

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