In Georgia, a convicted shoplifter hypothetically could receive a tougher sentence than someone convicted of killing a dog.
When the value of the stolen merchandise exceeds $300, shoplifting is a felony punishable by one to 10 years in jail. Under the Georgia Animal Protection Act of 2000, violators can receive jail time of up to one year for general cruelty convictions and up to five years for an aggravated-cruelty conviction.
Steal a Gucci handbag, you may serve 10 years. Kill an innocent pet, the most you’ll get is five years.
Certainly the people who caused the recently discovered carnage at Loonie Farms Rescue Shelter in Long County deserve a just punishment. Hundreds of bones and animal carcasses were found there last week by local animal-welfare organization representatives who went to rescue homeless pets after receiving word the former shelter was closing.
Some of the bones collected appeared to have been punctured by bullets; other carcasses still had collars and leashes wrapped around their necks.
Sadly, the gruesome discovery really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Long County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Detective Tom Sollosi said he received several reports from concerned citizens in the past and, based on those reports, authorities obtained a search warrant and met with the shelter’s manager a few weeks
According to the detective, the sheriff’s office conducted a brief investigation and a joint inspection of the facility with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Secretary of State’s office. The shelter’s managers apparently were cautioned about the condition of the shelter by agriculture department representatives. The animal remains that were discovered Monday were more than a few weeks old. These atrocities likely weren’t all committed after the authorities’ brief investigation in April. Questions remain about how authorities missed earlier signs that abuse was occurring.
Abusing a defenseless pet is cruel and should not be tolerated. Why some people hurt or kill animals is a question that may never be answered, but as a society we should hold those responsible accountable.
Georgia has laws against animal abuse. Until animal abusers are held accountable for their actions and penalties for animal abuse are consistently enforced, innocent creatures will continue to suffer.