Otsego County has assembled an Animal Abuse Task Force to handle animal abuse cases, but one of the most difficult obstacles in dealing with animal abuse is how weak the AG & Markets laws are. Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin explains.
"I can tell you from our experience that it’s been disheartening sometimes with the outcome of some of these cases compared to what the animals have gone through, and it’s no fault of the District Attorney. It’s as you said, it’s what the AG & Markets Law dictate, and that’s what you have to go by."
Not only are the laws weak, but Susquehanna SPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes tells us Judges are sometimes not aware of how organizations like the SPCA is involved.
"When animals are seized, we as the shelter have the right to file a security petition to get bond for the care of the animals, but like no one knows this, and so when we go to court, you know Town Judges look at us like who are you, where did you come from, like what gives you this authority?"
The Animal Abuse Task Force is working on streamlining the process of how animal abuse cases are processed. One of their first tasks is to get all parties trained in the laws and set a uniform procedure. The first step to report animal abuse or neglect, is to call the Susquehanna SPCA at 607 547-8111 extension 4. They have local veterinarians ready to assess animal conditions, and will notify law enforcement if needed. Then it’s up to District Attorney John Muehl to prosecute appropriate cases. Many of which are linked to domestic abuse.
"There are some people that just are mean to animals. I mean there are people who are… those people I don’t have any problem putting in jail, but in any situation whether it’s a person’s mental health issue, or whether it’s a poverty issue, or whether it’s just somebody who’s a little bit cruel, I think that to keep an eye on them is a good idea."
Having local farmers on call is another priority. The idea is to provide immediate shelter to larger animals that have been abused.