FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lori Sitler
Phone: (302) 577-8314
Pager: (302) 247-1132
Date: May 2, 2002
A.G.'s TASK FORCE ON ANIMAL CRUELTY APPLAUDS NEW LAW
(Wilmington, DE): Members of the Attorney General's Task Force on Animal Cruelty and Interpersonal Violence realized one of their goals recently when Governor Minner signed into law House Bill 305. The bill, sponsored by Representative Maier and Senator Bunting, increases the penalties for a person convicted of intentional animal cruelty and animal fighting. It also permits the State or the SPCA to recover the costs of boarding and caring for animals seized from a person charged with cruelty to animals or facilitating animal fighting. Attorney General Brady stated, "This bill holds those who abuse animals accountable, strengthens dog fighting laws and compensates the SPCA for the specialized care these abused and neglected animals require."
Murrey Goldthwaite, Executive Director of the Kent County SPCA commented that, "This legislation affects us directly and we are delighted that HB 305 is now law. The bill makes owners responsible for the care of animals who are being held as evidence and allows non-profit animal shelters to re-coup these significant costs." John Caldwell, Executive Director of the Delaware SPCA, shares Goldthwaite's enthusiasm. "HB 305 is tremendous. It is long overdue." Caldwell, whose organization has animal shelters in Stanton and Georgetown, said the new law is, "a great assist to my organization. It takes a tremendous financial burden off of the Delaware SPCA."
HB 305 was the result of suggestions and research from the Attorney General's Task Force on Animal Cruelty and Interpersonal Violence. The 40 person Task Force, created by Attorney General Brady in 1999, includes members representing public and non-profit social service agencies, veterinary and animal care professionals, prosecutors and law enforcement. The Task Force issued a report at its first national conference on animal cruelty and interpersonal violence in March, 2001 following 16 months of study, which recommended steps to foster improved responses to incidents of animal cruelty and personal violence, particularly domestic violence and child abuse. The Task Force continues to study laws and policies in Delaware, and develop training materials and a public awareness campaign.
Jane Pierentozzi, Executive Director of the Delaware Humane Association says the new law, "recognizes the economic and psychological burden placed upon staff at animal shelters who are responsible for the care of the animals pending trial. In addition, it begins to take into account the welfare of the animals that are forced to linger indefinitely as live evidence. I expect that this bill will have a major impact on the number of animals available for adoption that can be saved who in the past had to be euthanized due to lack of shelter space."
Veterinarian Laurie Dohmen sees the new law as, "putting responsibility on the owners of animals for expenses while the animals are awaiting trial. Caring for these animals has been a huge financial burden on the SPCA."
Virginia Kiloren of the Sussex County Animal Association, says she is, "delighted with the new law " which she sees as helping the state in its efforts to pursue those who facilitate animal fighting. "One of the goals of our association is to see dog fighting stopped and this law will help us meet that goal."
The Task Force will be sponsoring its second annual conference on Wednesday, May 29th at Wesley College in Dover. The topic will be Children: As Victims and Offenders and will explore the link between animal cruelty by children and child abuse. National speakers including, Dr. Randall Lockwood of the Humane Society of the United States and Dr. Mary Lou Randour, director of Beyond Violence, a joint project of the Doris Day Animal Foundation and Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will present. The cost of the day-long conference is $50 and includes lunch. To register or for more information, contact, Dawn Thompson at (302) 577-8337.