Dog owner seeks justice for animal cruelty

Lake View, SC - By Alisha Laventure - bio | email

LAKE VIEW, SC (WMBF) – A golden lab awaits life-saving surgery after he was shot by a neighbor. His owner wants justice.

"How could some someone do this to a living, breathing creature and just shoot it point blank with a hand gun?" Robyn Rogers asked.

Rogers says her dog, Von Dutch, did not deserve to be shot for wandering into her neighbor's yard after a lighting storm powered off her electric fence.

"It's just unbelievable to me that people can be this cruel," she commented.

Rogers was able to get an arrest warrant, but it was served five days after a judge had signed off on it.

"I don't understand why it took so long to issue the warrant," Rogers said. "It just seems that it could have been handled a lot more efficiently."

Not all people suspected of animal cruelty are arrested. A courtesy summons is the lesser penalty imposed and does not require the signature of a law enforcement officer. Someone who is issued this summons does not go to jail unless found guilty of a crime at a later date.

Scotty Davis, who manages the animal control officers for the City of Florence, says seeking tougher punishment for animal abuse is something his agency deals with on a regular basis.

"We certainly have a contingent of the population that feels that whenever there's abuse and cruelty to animals that an arrest should be issued immediately," she said, adding that many people are unsatisfied when a courtesy summons is issued instead.

Davis says an arrest warrant is issued at the discretion of animal control officers and police. However, a judge has to sign off on the arrest warrant in order for it to be executed.

Some animal activists say getting an arrest warrant depends on the judge handling the case - if the judge does not care for animals, an arrest warrant will not be issued.

Jayne Boswell, director of the Florence Area Human Society, says many people go to them when seeking justice for animal cruelty.

"They come to us in the hopes that we can make justice move a lot more quickly," she said.

But Boswell says their hands are tied because getting arrest warrants depends heavily on the police investigating the matter.

"It's imperative that law enforcement and that animal control agencies move quickly and take this law as seriously as the other laws," Boswell said.

Because she feels the state laws against animal cruelty are weak, Boswell says the courts and the police play vitals roles in ensuring that animal cruelty is condemned.

Rogers said Von Dutch will need $3,500 to $5,000 in surgery to repair his injuries and keep him from dying. The Florence Area Humane Society is helping Von Dutch's family raise the money necessary for his life-saving surgery.

"This is not just a dog to me, he's part of our family," Rogers said. "If this had happened to another person, justice would be served. I just want to see justice."

The man accused of shooting Von Dutch was presented a $5,000 bond and will have to appear at the Dillon County Courthouse in September.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.