American Humane Urges Alabama to Strengthen Pet Protection Act

American Humane Association
Friday, 8 August 2003

In response to the horrific abuse case in Mobile, Ala., of two Rottweilers, American Humane today called on authorities in Alabama to strengthen the Pet Protection Act.

American Humane, the only national organization dedicated to both child and animal protection, made this call in light of growing research indicating people who are violent to animals are often violent to humans -- a correlation commonly referred to as the Link®.

Research has shown premeditated torture or killing of animals is an indication of other types of violent behavior, such as child abuse, domestic violence, gang activity, and even satanic ritual. The evidence is so overwhelming that 41 states and the District of Columbia currently have felony-level convictions for serious acts of animal abuse. Alabama is one of those states, but according to American Humane the law needs improvement.

In 2000, the Alabama legislature passed the Pet Protection Act after the high-profile animal cruelty case of Gucci galvanized public support for the legislation. The Act provides for felony-level animal cruelty if a person intentionally tortures a dog or cat.

"The Pet Protection Act was certainly a step in the right direction for the prosecution of animal cruelty in Alabama, however it is extremely difficult for prosecutors to prove intent, and as a result most animal cruelty cases in Alabama are tried as misdemeanors," says Suzanne Barnard, American Humane's vice president of public policy.

Elizabeth Flott, humane officer for the Mobile Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said that only one case of animal cruelty has been successfully tried as a felony in Alabama since the Pet Protection Act was passed in 2000. That case was tried in Montgomery.

As reported by the Associated Press, Kevin Scott Beritiech, 40, of Irvington was charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals, menacing, and two counts of harassment after a Mobile SPCA officer and police found a dead Rottweiler with a slit throat and bashed skull at Beritiech's home. A second Rottweiler whose throat had also been slit was found alive behind a utility building.

Beritiech's misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Flott indicated the violence apparently stemmed from a domestic dispute between Beritiech and his girlfriend.

"This case is a textbook example of the Link between animal cruelty and other violent behaviors and the importance of strong animal cruelty laws," says Barnard.

American Humane encourages Alabama residents to contact key decision makers at the state, local and county levels and encourage them to amend the Pet Protection Act in the Alabama Legislature's next Regular Session in 2004.

As a nonprofit organization, American Humane relies on the generous contributions of concerned individuals to advance programs, like the Link, that protect children and animals. You can support this and many other American Humane programs at their website.

About American Humane

Founded in 1877, American Humane is the only national organization dedicated to both child and animal protection. Headquartered in Denver, with regional offices in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, American Humane provides national leadership in the development of programs and policies, empowering child and animal protection professionals with valuable information and support resources.

For more information, or to contact American Humane Association, see their website at: www.americanhumane.org

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