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Animal Neglect and Abandonment Are Too Common in South Florida

animal-cruelty-law-awarenessTwo starving horses languishing in a barn have been rescued by a good Samaritan and a newly formed equine rescue group.

“They’ve been eating hay ever since they got here,” Victor Cutino said of Dreamer and Haven, both Thoroughbreds and one-time racehorses.

With the economy still faltering, horse neglect cases remain far too common across South Florida, equine experts say.

Epona’s Path, a rescue ranch in central Palm Beach County founded in 2009, has been doing similar work, taking in dozens of unwanted horses left to fend for themselves.

“It’s gotten so much worse since the economy has tanked,” said Jeanette Jordan, president and executive director of the South Florida SPCA Horse Rescue. “People end up not being able to feed their horses. It’s really very tragic.”

Starving a horse can lead to criminal charges that carry a minimum fine of $3,500 and at least one year in jail, Jordan said. Police are investigating the horse neglect case in Davie, but have not filed criminal charges, Capt. Dale Engle said. Full story, source

Animal Abuse Statistics

According to the Human Society of the United States, there is no national reporting system for abuse to animals. However Pet-Abuse.com has collected statistics on animal cruelty since 2001. As of October 13, 2012 they have 19,517 cases listed on their web site. The following animal abuse stats for the U.S. are from their database:

Top 5 Types of Abuse
  • 32% neglect or abandonment
  • 12% hoarding
  • 11% shooting
  • 9% fighting
  • 7% beating

Most of the above forms of violence toward animals is self-explanatory. However, hoarding may need some more explanation. This involves people who are often well intentioned but what they do is collect animals and may have hundreds of animals living in their house, barn or yard. It’s pretty much impossible to take care of this number of animals well and the cost of food and veterinary care would be sky high. Hoarding is really another form of neglect, just on a much grander scale than traditional neglect or abandonment.

Most cases of abuse toward animals are directed toward dogs, cats, and horses. The statistics on dogs included non-pit bulls pit bulls. Of the cases listed on their website, 48% are alleged cases, 24% are convicted records, and 16% are open. Most abusers of animals are men between 31 and 50 years of age.

Florida Cruelty to Animals Statutes

828.12. Cruelty to animals

(1) A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

(2) A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

(3) A veterinarian licensed to practice in the state shall be held harmless from either criminal or civil liability for any decisions made or services rendered under the provisions of this section. Such a veterinarian is, therefore, under this subsection, immune from a lawsuit for his or her part in an investigation of cruelty to animals.

(4) A person who intentionally trips, fells, ropes, or lassos the legs of a horse by any means for the purpose of entertainment or sport shall be guilty of a third degree felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this subsection, “trip” means any act that consists of the use of any wire, pole, stick, rope, or other apparatus to cause a horse to fall or lose its balance, and “horse” means any animal of any registered breed of the genus Equus, or any recognized hybrid thereof. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply when tripping is used:

(a) To control a horse that is posing an immediate threat to other livestock or human beings;

(b) For the purpose of identifying ownership of the horse when its ownership is unknown; or

(c) For the purpose of administering veterinary care to the horse.

West Palm Beach Animal Cruelty Defense Attorney

Few law firms in Florida have as much experience-or as much success-defending people charged with animal cruelty or neglect, as the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A. in West Palm Beach. Andrew Stine has handled some of the biggest animal cases in Florida and has never lost a case.

Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Examples of animal cases include:

  • Animal cruelty involving dogs, cats, horses, and parakeets that were malnourished, poorly maintained, or abused
  • Dog-fighting cases involving pit bulls
  • Cock-fighting cases

In Florida, animal cruelty can be charged as anything from a civil infraction up to a felony. Those charges, as well as fines, add up when a person is charged with cruelty or neglect to a group of animals. Lawyer Andrew Stine won a test Florida case that established if a person is charged with animal neglect of a group of animals (such as 100 dogs or 25 horses), the person can only be charged with one crime.

Andrew Stine loves animals and owns several. However, he loves people and protecting their rights more. If any evidence is obtained through an illegal search of property, he will strive to have that evidence suppressed and the case dismissed, if possible.

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