Update June 24, 2010: With Susie looking on, North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue signed Susie’s Law yesterday, making penalties for animal abuse stronger.
S.B. 254, also H.B. 1690, known as Susie’s Law, passed the North Carolina state senate and the House of Representatives easily in this short 2010 session.
The only real opposition came from House Judiciary III Committee member state Rep. Nick Mackey who wanted to amend the bill to make animal torture and cruelty only misdemeanors and Henri McClee of the N.C. Sporting Dog Association, to defeat the bill. (Mackey just lost a primary battle for his seat and has also been suspended for 3 years by the North Carolina state bar for acts said to include dishonesty.)
The law, S.B. 254, Susie’s Law, raises the penalty for anyone who "maliciously" kills or causes to be killed an animal by "intentional deprivation of necessary sustenance".
The new law also makes this crime a Class H felony. It is currently a Class A misdemeanor. G.S. 14-360(a1)
Also, under GS 14-360(b) any person who would "maliciously torture, mutilate, maim, cruelly beat, disfigure, poison, or kill, or cause or procure to be tortured, mutilated, maimed, cruelly beaten, disfigured, poisoned, or killed, any animal" is now guilty of a Class H felony instead of the current Class I felony.
S.B. 254 is named for Susie, a puppy that was beaten and burned; the little animal was left for dead. LaShawn Whitehead, Susie’s abuser, received a sentence of 4-6 months in jail for burning personal property and a 4-5 month suspended sentence for animal cruelty. That’s it.
North Carolina state Representatives Maggie Jeffus, Pricey Harrison, Alma Adams, and Laura I. Wiley are the primary sponsors of this bill.
There is a well-established link between animal abuse and domestic violence and other violent crimes. A June 13, 2010 New York Times article illustrates this with a look at a number of studies showing animal abuse is often an indicator of future violence to humans.
In one study 71% of women in a battered women’s shelter reported their abuser either abused a household pet or threatened to abuse a pet. (Ascione, 1998)
In another study 88% of child abusers also abused the animals in the home. (Ascione)
In a study by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, Public Health Department, the Johns Hopkins University from 1994 to 2000 in eleven USA metropolitan cities, pet abuse was one of the four significant predictors for determining who was at highest risk for becoming a batterer. Many abused spouses delay leaving out of fear for their pets’ safety and because they have nowhere to take them.
70% of animal abusers were found in one 20 year study to have then committed other crimes, and 44% went on to harm people. (Arluke, A. & Luke, C. 1997).
In another study 99% of animal abusers had convictions for other crimes. (Clarke, J. P. 2002). In that same study it was found 100% of people who committed sexual homicide had abused animals. (Clarke, J. P. 2002). That study also revealed 61.5% of animal abusers had assaulted a human as well. (Clarke, J. P. 2002).
63.3% of inmates in a prison study who were in for violent crimes admitted to abusing animals. This doesn’t include the ones who didn’t admit it. (Schiff Louw Ascione, 1999)
Police have found animal abuse is a better predictor of whether someone will commit sexual assault than previous convictions for murder or arson. (Clarke, J. P. 2002).