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Tougher animal cruelty laws in the future for South Carolina with bill S193

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A Laurens senator is providing a voice for abused animals by pushing for stronger penalties for misdemeanor animal cruelty laws, Fox Carolina reported January 20.

Laurens Senator Danny Verdin is pushing for a law that would eliminate the tiered animal penalty system, while at the same time giving more control to law enforcement officers. S193 was introduced to the senate and read for the first time on January 9,2013. On May 5, it moved on to the house and was also referred on that date to the House Judiciary Committee.

S193 will amend South Carolina Animal Law Section 47-1-140, allowing law enforcement to make an arrest with or without a warrant, should an abused animal be found in the custody of the person caring for the animal. The animal may be seized is accordance to Section 47-1-150, where it can be removed from the home.

Under S193, the person providing care to the animal can be ordered by a magistrate or municipal judge, member of law enforcement or agent of the county to pay for the care of the animal, including any medical bills incurred.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, South Carolina is near the bottom in protecting our precious pets. We rank 46th in terms of animal protection laws. There have been several cases in the news recently where the only reason a person was charged with animal cruelty appears to be public outrage that abusers were getting away with severe neglect and/or abuse.

Humane Society of Columbia representative Wayne Brennessel stated to Fox Carolina that crimes against animals are increasing, and he hopes Verdin's bill, which passed the Senate 42-0, can complete it's journey through the house and to the governor's desk. Brennessel says

"I think it sends the message that the state of South Carolina isn't going to tolerate people purposely, willfully, hurting animals."

It's currently before the House Judiciary Committee, but will become effective as soon as the governor can sign it into law.

It should not have to fall on private citizens to have to beg for justice for the animals who are injured or die every day, with little or no punishment to the owner. It was only through public demand after the owner of a dog named Andra Grace was dragged behind a pickup that charges were upgraded against Roger Owens from a ticketed offense to felony animal cruelty.

Area animal rights advocates demanded justice, especially after learning Owens had been convicted of malicious cruelty to animals in the past, along with a criminal record with major offenses dating back more than 20 years.

13th circuit solicitor Walt Wilkins was bombarded with calls and emails from the public, and thanks to his efforts, Owens now faces a slew of charges which, if convicted, will hopefully keep him behind bars for at least the next 20 years.

Upstate animal rights advocate Cynthia Saracino is pleased that animal abusers may soon have to pay a higher price for their actions. She stated to Fox Carolina

"It exposed animal cruelty in the state to an extreme that it hadn't been exposed before."

Hopefully S0193 will soon put pressure on every person involved in the abuse of a helpless animal, from the owner's who know from past experience that nothing more than a small fine will be dished out, to police and animal control officers who follow up on abuse cases, where many times they walk away and do nothing.

Animal advocates in South Carolina are now following through on their promise to be the voice for those who can't speak, who can't tell officials of the abuse and neglect they've suffered by those who once vowed to love them.

What it's come down to, finally, is a clear message is being sent to animal abusers, those who investigate the cases and those who make the laws. WE'RE WATCHING YOU! Community leaders who refuse to protect companion animals will find themselves before a social media firing squad if maximum charges aren't filed against those responsible.

This includes judges who allow small fines that are an insult to animal lovers everywhere. The good old boy look the other way buddy system day's are over.

Your comments are welcome.

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