South Carolina needs a statutory penalty preventing animal abusers from possessing an animal

In South Carolina if a person is convicted of animal abuse under state animal welfare laws, they do not receive a statutory, automatic punishment which bans them possessing or owning an animal for a set period of time. Most American states have such a law.

South Carolina needs a law where a judge must, under a statutory obligation, impose a ban on the possession and ownership of animals when a person is convicted of animal abuse. It should be entirely automatic. The judge should have no say in the matter. There should be no discretion.

One of 40 dogs saved from an alleged puppy mill

One of 40 dogs saved from an alleged puppy mill. Photo: All 4 Paws rescue.

The reason? Animal abusers are often repeat offenders. And so, when they’ve been fined, and normally leniently punished because animal abusers in the eyes of many are too leniently punished, they go on to repeat their animal abuse as soon as they can at the end of their sentence. It might include imprisonment and so after they are released from prison they often very quickly get back to their old ways.

Without a law which bans them from possessing an animal there is inevitably more animal abuse and animal cruelty. On the basis that that is true, South Carolina’s state legislature is failing its animals year-on-year.

The author of an article in The Post and Courier, Kristy Carruthers, refers to a typical example of where South Carolina’s animal welfare laws have failed. In that state it is a felony to be in violation of the state’s Animal Fighting and Baiting Act. Felonies lead to imprisonment but when they are released from custody these felons acquire animals within a year and resume their nasty activities.

Carruthers makes the point that a convicted felon is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition when their crime is of a violent nature. You can’t reconcile that aspect of the law with the failure to ban felons from having an animal who have tortured and abused animals. It doesn’t make sense she says and she is correct.

Carruthers states that in South Carolina animals are not a priority in matters of legislation, education and funding. And I totally agree with her. Over and over again I’ve seen weak punishments handed out to criminals who have abused animals. I am not referring solely to America. It happens in the UK. It is about governments failing to be sufficiently concerned about animal welfare. Historically politicians are perhaps not the kind of person to be overly concerned about animal welfare. They tend to be human-centric in their attitudes. It certainly shows itself in a failure to legislate adequately on animal welfare issues.

In the UK we are going through a little bit of a mini-revolution on that topic because the wife of the current Prime Minister, Carrie Johnson, is an animal advocate. She has all the time in the world in the evening over their chicken curry (Boris Johnson loves curries and Indian food, apparently) to convince her husband to initiate changes to animal welfare laws which are long overdue.

When you think about it is not asking a lot to ban a person who has been cruel to dogs from keeping dogs. In fact, you could argue very cogently that it is common sense that that should happen. South Carolina should get on with it. I fully agree with Kristy Carruthers.

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