Steven Gross, cochairman of Humane Pac, an animal-protection political action committee, is the catalyst behind Johnson's bill.
Gross has been working closely with Bromwell, who apparently has the power to make or break animal legislation in this state; at his suggestion the bill includes the Class A misdemeanor language and proposes making all other violations--consisting of various forms of neglect, which are now only petty offenses--Class C misdemeanors. I'll testify for it, but I want it to be effective." Gross is confident the bill, which now has 20 cosponsors, will pass.
Last January, the coldest in more than three decades, in Lanark, a small rural community 25 miles southwest of Freeport, a 12-week-old puppy named Baby was left outside day and night for more than a month, shivering inside a doghouse that was open to the northeast.
He didn't lie on his blanket because it was frozen solid.
"Law enforcement doesn't want to enforce anything that isn't worth their effort.
It takes a lot of effort to go out, catch these people, and bring them in."As soon as you start talking at all about cruel and unusual punishment to animals you just get all these people coming down on you," Fawell says."I had tried to come up with something that made sense and was going to accomplish basically what I wanted to accomplish.People in Saint Charles, where Rinn lived, were outraged by the light sentence.Someone pointed out that if Rinn had been charged with littering he could have gotten six months.And they want to make sure it will result in something." Gross insists a Class A misdemeanor will get results when the abuse can be proved."I mean, the judge in the Rinn case wanted to kill the guy. The fact of the matter is that husbands could beat their wives until the 1970s.There are long paragraphs describing how animals can be used in entertainment, how they must be transported, why they can be impounded. But the tiny section that deals with companion animals says only that owners must provide their pets with sufficient food and water, adequate shelter, veterinary care when needed, and humane treatment.No guidelines are given as to what "sufficient," "adequate," or "humane" are--which makes every neglect case a judgment call.This case and others have focused attention on the limitations of the state law, and as a result Representative Tom Johnson recently introduced a bill to stiffen the penalties of the 1973 Humane Care for Animals Act.Among other things, the bill would make "aggravated cruelty" to animals--an act resulting in "serious, malicious harm or death"--a Class A misdemeanor.