Animal Cruelty Case Back In Court In the Fall for Sentencing

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Thursday, June 27, 2013 – 2:17 PM
By Sara Buchan
Grande Prairie

The animal cruelty case against a Fort St. John woman returns to court in Grande Prairie in November.

54-year old Debra Holden will be sentenced on a guilty plea to allowing an animal to be in distress.

Back in July of last year Grande Prairie RCMP arrested a woman at a campsite after discovering a dead dog and a burning kennel in a fire pit.

Witnesses told police of another injured dog, and Mounties searched the bush but couldn’t find it.

Holden was originally charged with injuring or endangering animals, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.

The Alberta Animal Protection Act allows for fines of as much as $20,000 and bans on owning pets.

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Push for strong anti-cruelty laws in US state

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(North Dakota, United States) North Dakota has one of the weakest animal cruelty laws in the nation, and a group is fighting to change that.

The North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty group got together at West Acres Mall today — getting signatures to help change the laws surrounding animal cruelty.

As shoppers strolled the mall, some stopped for food, others for clothes… And hundreds stopped to sign a petition that would make animal cruelty a class C felony rather than just a misdemeanor.

Ed Ahonen said “I have always felt that cruelty to animals has never been followed through, for the prevention, of that sort of thing.” He supports legislation that would ensure animal abusers would walk away with more than a slap on the wrist.

“I feel bad mostly when I read or see some abuse.” North Dakota is only one of two states that does not have this type of legislation. South Dakota is the other. “That tells me they are not taking care of the pets.”

Volunteer Kristie Skunberg says it’s time North Dakota joins the rest of the nation, and make animal cruelty charges more strict for anyone hurting helpless animals.

Kristie Skunberg said “the legislature has failed time and time again to pass a law like this, and actually in the last session they voted down to even research the issue, so we feel that animals dogs, cats, and horses shouldn’t have to wait any longer, that’s why we’ve gone to this process.”

Over 13 thousand signatures are needed to put a animal cruelty measure on the November ballot. “Our goal is about 17 thousand, so we have a little buffer” she said.

If enough signatures are collected the new legislation will allow the people of North Dakota to vote and so far, many people are standing behind the animals. All signatures need to be collected by the first week of August.

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Dolphin ban has zoos worried

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Parliament’s decision to ban the import of dolphins and whales has been welcomed by supporters of animal rights, but zoos are concerned that the change to Switzerland’s animal protection law could lead to arbitrary legislation.

When the issue was previously voted on in March, the House of Representatives opted for a ban on the keeping of dolphins in addition to the import ban. The chamber has now aligned itself with the more moderate Senateposition.

Artificial dolphins will soon be the only ones left in Switzerland. (Keystone)

Veteran animal rights lawyer Antoine Goetschel welcomed the decision. “It’s a good starting point. In this case an import ban has about the same consequences as a ban on keeping dolphins,” he told

“It’s a good measure as well because it complies with the Swiss constitution, which is unique in protecting animals’ dignity,” he added.

Double death

The debate about the dolphins’ destiny was sparked by publicity surrounding the deaths of two of the animals in the space of a week at the Connyland theme park in northeastern canton Thurgau last November.

The cause of the mammals’ deaths has not been clearly established, although antibiotics were thought to have played a role. In total eight dolphins died at Switzerland’s only dolphinarium within three years.

The news of the dolphins’ deaths last year came as a revision of the animal protection law was before parliament.

Amongst other amendments to the law, parliament had already voted on changes to include a ban on the trade in dog and cat fur.

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Roseland Couple Found Guilty on Animal Cruelty Charges

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An elderly couple from Roseland has been found guilty of a number of animal cruelty charges.

David Tracy Davis, 71, has been found guilty of 14 counts of animal cruelty.  His wife, Joyce, 61, was convicted of 15 counts.

Both were originally charged with 28 counts of animal cruelty.  In November Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents, along with dozens of other agencies, raided their Rooster Ridge Road home. Agents seized an illegal distillery, firearms, and many malnourished hunting dogs, two horses and chickens.

The Nelson County commonwealth’s attorney says one of the mistreated dogs had missing teeth and suffered from an infection which could be seen and smelled by those who rescued the animals.

During the trial, a state veterinarian testified that none of the dogs had clean water and several had tumors, one of which was the size of a softball.

Both defendants were sentenced to 60 days in jail on each charge with the time suspended.  They are not allowed to own any animals for two years.“They should be banned for life”

Later Tuesday, David Tracy Davis pleaded guilty to four felonies of possessing a firearm while manufacturing or selling illegal alcohol.

He was sentenced to five years in prison on each charge – all of that was suspended except for 90 days in jail. He will be on probation for 10 years and all the firearms will be forfeited to the commonwealth.
Agents say they found a distillery and firearms during the fall raid.

Effort to put animal cruelty initiative on Idaho ballot falls short

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BOISE — Organizers of a group seeking to put an animal cruelty initiative on the Idaho ballot this November have failed to get enough signatures to qualify the measure for a public vote.

Idaho 1 of 3 President Virginia Hemingway expressed disappointment, but said her group did remarkably well in educating the public about this issue.  She public called the “response overwhelmingly positive.”

The group wants a first offense for animal cruelty to be a felony in Idaho.

Today was the deadline to submit signatures to county clerks for verification to qualify the measure for the November ballot.  They would then have 60 days to count all the signatures. Hemingway estimates her group gathered only around 33,000 of the 47,500 they needed.

Although Idaho lawmakers approved the state’s first felony animal cruelty law earlier this year, Hemingway says she doesn’t believe the law goes far enough, and that no one will ever be convicted under it.

Hemingway says the group will continue to work with legislators to toughen up animal cruelty laws in Idaho, and may take another try at a ballot initiative for 2014.  She says the wording will likely be changed before taking it to the public.  And next time around the group will seek financial backing. This latest effort was done with volunteers.

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Judge calls out T-shirt wearers during animal abuse hearing

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Evil Animal Abuser

In the midst of setting a trial date for a Jonesborough man accused of torturing and killing the family pet, a Yorkie named Honey, a judge took time to call out animal rights activists in court to tell him they offended him.

Dustin Ricky Harrell, 22, 1178 Old Stage Road, Jonesborough, is charged with aggravated animal cruelty for Honey’s death in November.

Court records indicate Harrell tortured the 4-pound miniature dog for four hours at the family’s residence before she died.

He’s accused of throwing the dog down a flight of stairs, attempting to drown her and putting her in a clothes dryer for four minutes.

An investigator in the case said in the affidavit that each time Harrell injured the dog, he would comfort it. Honey eventually died in Harrell’s arms.

At one point during the ordeal, Harrell apparently put painter’s tape around Honey’s mouth because she was crying after he broke her leg.

He also told the investigator that he used an Icy Hot sleeve on Honey’s broken leg.

When Honey stopped crying, Harrell took the tape off her mouth. After that, she started bleeding from the mouth and died.

During each of Harrell’s court hearings, animal cruelty activists have attended and worn T-shirts that say “Stop Animal Abuse” and “Justice for Honey.”

Harrell’s attorney, Jim Bowman, asked Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp for a bench trial in the case. It’s set for May 30.

During the hearing, Cupp asked three women wearing the “Justice for Honey” shirts to stand.

“That offends me,” Cupp said. “You don’t need to tell me” to get justice.

“That’s what this courtroom is for,” he said.

Cupp told the women they cannot wear the T-shirts to any more court hearings.

Also during the hearing, Bowman told Cupp his client has been “engaged in some intensive rehabilitative programs,” for drug and alcohol abuse.

A county investigator was assigned to the case after Harrell’s stepfather, Ricky Harrell, called to report the possible intentional killing of an animal.

When Investigator Jeff Miller interviewed Dustin Harrell, the officer wrote in an affidavit that Harrell admitted to torturing Honey.

Harrell has been free on a $10,000 bond since shortly after his arrest in November.

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Neglected horse’s hooves were half a metre long, says vet

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A horse owner in Sweden has been reported to the police after a vet found a horse with overgrown hooves measuring half a metre in a stable on his farm.

The 27-year-old gelding could no longer walk or lie down, head vet for Vasternoorrland County, Helena Ahlqvist, told a local newspaper.

His hooves had not received attention for many years, she added.

A government vet visited the farm, near Solleftea in northern Sweden, in late November and found “Charlie” in a very depressed state.

He was put down, along with four other horses that were also suffering from neglect.

Ms Ahlqvist said the horse owner had been reported to the police and may face charges of animal cruelty


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