Utica (WSYR-TV) -- A hearing held Wednesday in Utica hopes to bring about tougher penalties for animal abuse.
Local law enforcement officials explained to state lawmakers how current laws have loopholes that have let animal abusers off the hook.
The ASPCA especially wants to see the abandonment and neglect laws changed. They say there are a lot of loopholes in the law and it’s the most common form of animal abuse, landing many pets in shelters.
“I look at this and anyone who treats a living thing with this callous disregard and downright cruelty really disgusts me,” Senator Joe Griffo said at Wednesday’s hearing.
The ASPCA highlights a case where eight dogs were recently found abandoned and near death in a house in Utica, but the owner received only eight counts of misdemeanor cruelty.
Senator Patty Ritchie said, “The end goal here is to make sure that there are appropriate laws on the books…and there's a penalty in place.”
Officials say often times the laws are the animals’ only line of defense and it’s important to remember that they can’t point out their abusers like people can.
“There's always going to be challenges enforcing the laws because one of the things you need to prove is intent…and one of the problems you deal with is dealing with a victim that can't speak for itself, so there are certainly challenges,” explained Utica Police Chief Mark Williams.
Two more changes the ASPCA wants to see include:
• Someone convicted of animal abuse should not be able to own a companion animal until after a psychological evaluation
• Make a second offense of a cruelty misdemeanor -- within five years -- a felony