- Cullman, Alabama

March 13, 2013

EDITORIAL: Adding strength to animal cruelty law

The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — By now, most residents of Cullman County have heard about the brutal killing of a young goat in the West Point community.

Cullman County Sheriff’s Office investigators said four teens made a video of the killing. According to the chief investigator, the scene captured on the video was horrible as the 6-month-old family pet screamed out in pain, sounding much like a human child.

The goat was bound, beaten, roped and repeatedly dropped from a bridge into a shallow creek bed until it died. The teens left the goat strung to the rope and later began sharing a video of their act.

The outrage over the crime has drawn attention from across the state and region. The Sheriff’s Office and the district attorney have both fielded numerous calls about the incident.

Much to the surprise of many people interested in the case, the cruelty to animal charge is only a misdemeanor. The act of stealing the goat is a felony.

Efforts are under way in the Alabama Legislature to strengthen the law for such acts. While many lawmakers tend to push animal issues to the backburner, this is a reasonable bill that designates aggravated cruelty as a felony. The bill does not impose felony penalties against those who are having trouble caring for their animals. Instead, it is intended to address heinous crimes in which deliberate abuse, such as torture, is inflicted on animals.

Deliberate animal abuse is a disturbing act for many reasons. Criminal behavior manifested later in life has been linked to animal cruelty. But for the sake of the animals, which most good people view as part of their families, the law needs to be stronger to act as deterrent against cruelty.