Animal cruelty should make you angry. The good news is there are so many advocates for animals including the Maine Friends of Animals organization that submitted a bill they call "Franky's Law," (L.D. 1442) for a beloved Pug mix from Winter Harbor who was kidnapped from his home in August 2018, tortured, killed and dumped, wrapped in garbage bags, into the bay.
Yes, you read that correctly. The dog was tortured and wrapped in garbage bags. It's almost too much to wrap your mind around. Can you imagine this happening to your beloved hound? If I was a law student I would clearly be volunteering.
Under Franky's Law, court-appointed special advocates (volunteer lawyers or supervised law students) will work free of charge on behalf of the animal victim to monitor the case and assist the court in gathering information from animal control officers, humane agents, veterinarians, and police officers. Judges will have the ability to decide whether an advocate is appointed, but defense attorneys and prosecutors may request them.
A public hearing on the bill took place at the State House, and from there it will move to a committee work session.
The Bangor Daily News tells us,
"Portland attorney Bonnie Martinolich, testifying for Maine Friends of Animals, told the panel that the state has strong animal cruelty statutes but limited resources to enforce them. She and others cited data linking animal abuse to domestic violence.
"What if we could break that link and stop animal abusers from becoming human abusers?" she said."
The goal is to provide a resource at no cost so more of these cases will be fully prosecuted and not dismissed or settled.
Staff note: Did you know that less than a quarter of all animal cruelty cases end up with a conviction not because the laws are not there, but because the resources to prosecute are limited? Most are dismissed or not prosecuted. Additional resources to the court, as in this cruelty case assistance program, are needed.
Yes, MOST are dismissed!
The Bangor Daily News reports that not everyone supports this bill,
"But support was not universal. The American Kennel Club and the Federation of Maine Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners opposed the bill.
Liam Hughes, director of the state's Animal Welfare Program in the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry said the volunteer advocate program would be unnecessary. His office investigates animal cruelty cases and trains animal control officers and police to gather evidence that can be presented in court."
This bill is modeled after Desmond's Law, a similar bill passed in Connecticut in 2016. Desmond's Law is named for a shelter dog that was starved, beaten and strangled to death in Branford, CT in 2012. Despite a recommendation by the prosecutor for prison time, the man charged in the crime received accelerated rehabilitation, which meant that his charges were dismissed and his record was wiped clean.
Would an advocate have made a difference? This new bill will help animal abuse cases end with someone in jail, we hope!
What do you think of Franky's Law? We'd love to hear your comments below!