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EDITORIAL: A giant victory for animals

December 2, 2019 06:02 pm

We see it again and again in the Twin Counties. Dogs, cats and horses are abused, neglected or brutally mistreated.

Now, people who commit acts of animal cruelty could face federal felony charges. President Donald Trump, of all people, signed into law a bipartisan bill that makes intentional acts of cruelty — crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise torturing animals — a federal crime punishable by up to seven years in prison.

In fairness, we don’t know what motivated Trump to sign the bill. He has moments of self-aggrandizement and inserting himself into the role of hero. Of course, maybe he is an animal lover, a character trait he has yet to reveal. The important thing is that a federal felony charge for animal cruelty is the law of the land.

Lawmakers across the board and animal rights groups alike applauded the bill and its bipartisan support.

“I think it’s wonderful new legislation,” Columbia-Greene Humane Society President Ron Perez said last week. “The fact it goes out to seven years I think is spectacular. With the fed stepping into this, especially at this level, I think this is a giant win for animals.”

Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione and Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka are to be applauded for their commitment to combat animal cruelty.

Columbia and Greene counties combine to see four or five cases of some type of animal cruelty each year. Perez is unsure whether the new federal felony classification will deter more people from torturing animals, but he added, “There is a punishment in line now that I think is more in line for where a crime against an animal should be, as opposed to where it used to be.”

As a rural area where animals are placed at a high premium as pets and livestock, Columbia and Greene counties ought to serve as an example of humane treatment of all animals. President Trump’s signature gives us the opportunity to lead the way.