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Toughening Up On Animal Cruelty

Arkansas Law enforcement steps up arrests, convictions

The Humane Society of the United States

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    Sheriff John Montgomery, left, Arkansas State Director Desiree Bender, Prosecuting Attorney Ron Kincade

by Julie Hauserman

The state of Arkansas is finally getting tough on people who perpetrate animal cruelty, says The Humane Society of the United States Arkansas State Director Desiree Bender.

"We've had several recent arrests and convictions that show authorities are taking animal cruelty seriously," Bender said.  "And in a special category, we have our own Sheriff John Montgomery of Baxter County who is one of eight finalists for ABC's America's Most Wanted national "All-Star" award for extraordinary law enforcement work, and in his case, that includes prosecuting animal cruelty cases."

He is the only sheriff in Arkansas with an official policy on animal cruelty, Bender noted.

In 2005, Montgomery was involved in the case of Tammy Hanson who ran "Every Dog Needs a Home," a so-called "rescue" that was one of the worst cases of animal hoarding investigators had ever seen. The case drew national attention because 112 of the 500 badly neglected dogs found on her property were displaced refugees of Hurricane Katrina.

"Sheriff Montgomery has drawn the line on animal cruelty in his county solidly in the sand, leaving no question that people who hurt animals will be punished," Bender said. "He's truly a hero for animals." Vote for him for the All-Star award now! The voting ends midnight Monday, May 3.

Other recent law enforcement highlights in Arkansas

On April 27, in what is believed to be the very first felony animal cruelty conviction under a new state law, 38-year-old Eddie Lee Jordan was sentenced to 2½  years in prison for severely beating -- and nearly killing -- a border collie mix named Nini. Fortunately, Nini has recovered from her extensive injuries.

In addition to prison time, Jordan was ordered to pay over $1,000 in fines, including restitution for all of Nini's medical care. Read more

"20th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Marcus Vaden did an outstanding job on this case," Bender said. "The enormous work done by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and Arkansas legislators this past session to pass the animal cruelty law is now showing its teeth and biting down to put animal abusers behind bars," Bender said. In May, a statewide training program for law enforcement officers on animal cruelty investigations and prosecutions begins.

Authorities in Little Rock made their first-ever felony animal cruelty arrest April 26. They tracked down a woman who abandoned two Great Danes in the back yard when she moved out of a rental house. One of the dogs was so emaciated she couldn't walk and as a result she died.

"The Little Rock Police Department has set the standard and taken a professional interest in the investigation and prosecution of severe crimes against animals," Bender said.  "It sends a signal to the community that individuals who perpetrate extreme acts of animal abuse will be dealt with in a stern and swift manner."

On May 27, a major case involving eight counts of felony animal cruelty at a puppy mill operation goes on trial. Approximately 100 dogs, five cats and two guinea pigs were rescued in 2009 in Lamar, when the Johnson County Sheriff's Department and The HSUS joined together to remove the animals. A nearby citizen reported the cruelty. 

Many of the animals were emaciated and suffering from skin and eye infections as well as other medical ailments.  

"I am so grateful that the law enforcement community in Arkansas is taking animal cruelty cases seriously," Bender said. "It is just amazing to see prosecutors and law enforcement officials working so closely with animal welfare professionals. We're building an effective team here to fight animal cruelty."

 

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