Great news, animal advocates: Connecticut Senate Bill 274, legislation to prohibit the dangerous and inhumane chaining/tethering of dogs, proved victorious in the final hours of the state’s legislative session, passing overwhelmingly in both the Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 4. SB 274 addresses some of the worst aspects of dog chaining.
“Passage of SB 274 was necessary because Connecticut’s cruelty law has been insufficient to remedy the abuses of dog chaining,” explains Debora Bresch, Esq., of the ASPCA Government Relations Department. “It is imperative that dogs not be forced to suffer on short, tangled chains, trapped in ill-fitting collars, or otherwise be exposed to risk of strangulation or injury. Endangering dogs in this way is inhumane and, tragically, can make them aggressive, transforming our best friend into a public safety hazard.”
SB 274 will now go to Governor Rell for her approval. Once it lands on her desk, the Governor has 15 days to either veto SB 274 or sign it into law—if she chooses to do nothing, the bill will become law by default.
After the hard-fought battle in the legislature to get SB 274 this far, we must ensure that the bill is not vetoed and actually becomes law—so if you’re a Connecticut resident, please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to email Governor Rell and politely urge her to sign SB 274 into law.
As always, we encourage animal lovers to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to receive important, timely news about pending animal-related legislation in their states and in Congress.
UPDATE: Congratulations, Connecticut! Governor Rell has signed the anti-tethering bill into law. Public Act No. 10-100—formerly SB 274—will prohibit the dangerous and inhumane chaining/tethering of dogs. The new law goes into effect on October 1. Read it here.
On May 12, at the Third Annual Veterinary Forensics Conference in Orlando, FL, the ASPCA unveiled our newest mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) response vehicle, a 2010 Subaru Outback generously donated by Subaru of America, Inc. The Outback is customized specifically for our Veterinary Forensics team, and will help support and expand the work we are able to do with our Mobile Animal CSI Unit, a state-of-the-art laboratory on wheels.
The new CSI response vehicle will be used for field work to transport animal victims, store evidence from crime scene investigations and provide access to areas that are typically off-limits due to challenging terrain. It is outfitted with many unique features, including a slide-out cargo floor, evidence refrigerator, laptop computer station and exterior power outlets. The vehicle will be based in Gainesville, FL, with Dr. Melinda Merck, the ASPCA Senior Director of Veterinary Forensics.
Dr. Merck is one of nation’s premiere forensic veterinarians and often provides expert testimony in animal cruelty trials around the country. In 2007, she was instrumental in assisting with the recovery and analysis of forensics from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels—work that helped to produce evidence that led to a guilty plea. With the addition of the ASPCA’s custom CSI vehicle, Dr. Merck can continue to do her essential work and ensure that perpetrators of animal cruelty receive proper punishment.
Action Tip: Want to help crack down on cruelty in your community? Get to know your local animal control officer! Search our database of nearly 3,000 community SPCAs, humane societies and animal control organizations to find the person responsible for enforcing animal cruelty laws in your area.
On May 14, investigators from the SPCA Serving Erie County charged Beth Hoskins with 10 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty after 73 horses, 53 cats and four dogs were found living in deplorable conditions on her Erie County farm.
"These are definitely some very serious charges," says Jeff Eyre, ASPCA's Northeast Director of Field Investigations and Response. "But it's important to remember that each animal involved was a life that was abused."
Eyre was one of several members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team deployed this past March to assist in what has been declared the area's largest farm animal rescue ever. For more than two months, the Team oversaw the sheltering and care of 74 Morgan-type horses recovered from the scene. The Team also played a vital role in nurturing the abused equines, who eventually regained confidence and trust.
"I can remember the first days after the rescue, when the horses would react to us with horror and fear. They were emaciated, dirty and their manes full of tangles and mats," says Eyre. "Today, these healthy animals can be gently walked with a halter lead and approach humans with interest and affection—that is a huge difference."
On April 30, the ASPCA's task came to a close, as the remaining horses were transported to new foster homes. "We achieved our goal to rehabilitate these horses, both physically and behaviorally," reports Eyre. "These are now happy horses, and I could not have asked for a better ending."
According to Eyre, the Team's next step is to prepare a report that documents the poor physical conditions the equines were found in, as well as their deplorable living conditions, and follows the improvements they have made since rescue.
While Hoskins' attorney maintains his client's innocence, the accused is scheduled for arraignment on May 26 in Aurora town court. To date, the total cost of the investigation, including animal care, has exceeded $110,000.
On March 16, under the authority and request of the SPCA Serving Erie County (NY) members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team were dispatched to assist in the sheltering management and care of 73 horses seized from what is believed to be the area's largest farm animal rescue ever. The animals were found living in deplorable and extremely unsanitary conditions on a farm in East Aurora, NY (about 20 miles southeast of Buffalo).
Jeff Eyre, the Northeast Director of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team, was sent to the scene with other ASPCA staff skilled in horse handling. Over the past eight weeks, the group has played a vital role in helping to feed, water and clean the animals. More importantly, the team has spent time nurturing the horses, helping them to rebuild their broken spirits. On April 30, the mission came to a close, as the remaining horses were transported to new foster homes.
"Our on-site response is complete," says Jeff. "We achieved our goal to rehabilitate these horses, both physically and behaviorally. These are now happy horses, and I could not have asked for a better ending."
The following is the final in a series of field reports from Jeff on the ground in Erie County.
Final Field Report
We just finished loading the last seven mares onto the trailer—they will be making the hour drive to their new foster home. A total of 69 horses have been relocated to new homes over the past few weeks, and this group was our last haul. It has been through the great efforts of our team—including members of the ASPCA, American Humane Association, Days End and the SPCA of Erie County—that the moves went smoothly and all of the horses were rehomed without incident or injury.
Overall, our response has dramatically improved the lives of these animal victims—physically, behaviorally and mentally. I can remember the first days after rescue, when the horses would react to us with horror and fear. They were emaciated, dirty and their manes full of tangles and mats. Today, these healthy animals can be gently walked with a halter lead and approach humans with interest and affection. I have spent more than a month working with these abused and broken animals and have watched them recover little by little each day. I can now only describe my final goodbye as moving.
It was during the morning feeding—when my favorite sound of the horses munching hay filled the air. As I approached each stall, a head would appear, and I would receive a gentle nuzzle from a nose. There were no flared eyes, no ears pulled back, no pinning against the stall walls—these horses were at peace. They were comfortable in their surroundings and with me. At the end of this journey, I know that these are happy horses with enriched lives—and I could not have asked for a better farewell.
On May 11, Manhattan resident Chris Grant pled guilty to animal cruelty for beating his girlfriend's 10-pound dog in the elevator of his Harlem housing project. He was sentenced to three months in jail.
In early January, while investigating the fatal stabbing of a nine-year-old boy, police officers uncovered video footage of a resident abusing a small dog in the building's elevator. The surveillance tapes depicted 21-year-old Grant violently kicking a black-and-white Chihuahua/Pomeranian mix, named Chuvi-Duvi.
Grant was arrested by NYPD officers two days later and charged with torturing and injuring an animal and resisting arrest. Chuvi-Duvi was transported to the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital for treatment.
The ASPCA would like to commend the NYPD on taking swift and appropriate action in this case. Animal cruelty is a serious crime, and we are glad the victim in this case received justice.
In addition to his recent three-month sentence, Grant is currently serving a one-year jail term for an unrelated trespassing charge.