Prelude: If something is not recognized as a crime--there is no crime. That's the way the human mind assesses. The speed limit may be 55 but if everyone goes 65 and doesn't get pulled over--65 is okay. On many levels, in the animal abuse arena, it really is that simple.
Animal Abuse Laws in NY State:
There has got to be more done to protect animals in a manner that is legal. As a society, we need to demand that laws protecting animals be enforced--and actually, that they be re-written to be appropriate to the actual issue of animal abuse--which wears so many guises. As the felony law now stands, the word Intent continually, and with intention itself, lets animal criminals off the hook. Enforcement of what laws we have, with a demand for more in the way of justice, won't stop abuse, but it does send a strong message. Tolerance is everything. Tolerance is what truly defines what is a crime, and what is not, so much of the time in our society, no matter what the law. As things now stand, terrible animal abuse is tolerated, in plain sight. We have to stand up for each and every life as if that life was our own life. Because there but for fortune, do we ourselves go. If you've no sense of empathy, and compassion, there is still that one very real premise to consider.
The goal: zero tolerance of cruelty. As things stand, despite the documented horrors allegedly inflicted on these two horses through starvation and the intentional tolerance of a health situation that was, in fact, visibly, and in a way that was undeniably olfactory, degrading toward fatality--Keum H. Lee might yet get these two horses returned to her.
These are our laws in New York State. We, as the people, need to pick up the phone and sit down to the keyboard--and demand that these laws be refined, and changed. Lives hang in the balance, and those lives are suffering every single day of their existence--because we are tolerating that suffering. Please do understand: Not demanding change is tolerance. Not demanding change is, in fact, supporting animal cruelty in New York State.
Justice wears many faces, sadly. Things will never get better until people, en masse, stand up for what is right. It's a hard road.
The law that, in New York State, is supposed to protect animals from human cruelty, is presented below. Note that hunters and trappers are essentially immune. Getting up in the morning with the intent of shooting a wild animal--taking perhaps several shots to bring him or her down, if he or she is brought down at all--is not considered a punishable cruelty. Malicious intent is not recognized. Nor is catching the extremity of an animal in a trap, and having it wait in pain and terror, heart pounding, unable to defend his or herself, and in all weather conditions--wait until the trapper comes to kill it. Exempt also are horrors inflicted in laboratory testing. These endeavors are not considered to be causing an animal extreme pain, nor are they considered malicious, cruel, or sadistic. You be the judge.
Notice that this law is written only to protect "companion animals"--although even companion animals are not protected in laboratory testing. The thought being, all other animals are, in the human view, completely expendable.
§ 353-a. Aggravated cruelty to animals. 1. A person is guilty of
aggravated cruelty to animals when, with no justifiable purpose, he or
she intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury
to a companion animal with aggravated cruelty. For purposes of this
section, "aggravated cruelty" shall mean conduct which: (i) is intended
to cause extreme physical pain; or (ii) is done or carried out in an
especially depraved or sadistic manner.
2. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit or
interfere in any way with anyone lawfully engaged in hunting, trapping,
or fishing, as provided in article eleven of the environmental
conservation law, the dispatch of rabid or diseased animals, as provided
in article twenty-one of the public health law, or the dispatch of
animals posing a threat to human safety or other animals, where such
action is otherwise legally authorized, or any properly conducted
scientific tests, experiments, or investigations involving the use of
living animals, performed or conducted in laboratories or institutions
approved for such purposes by the commissioner of health pursuant to
section three hundred fifty-three of this article.
3. Aggravated cruelty to animals is a felony. A defendant convicted of
this offense shall be sentenced pursuant to paragraph (b) of subdivision
one of section 55.10 of the penal law provided, however, that any term
of imprisonment imposed for violation of this section shall be a
definite sentence, which may not exceed two years.