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Animal Cruelty Cases: What's the Right Punishment?

Recent reports about kittens in a freezer and a dog who took an ax to the face have the Tampa Bay area buzzing about animal cruelty laws. What's your take?

Two high profile incidents of animal abuse have sparked a strong reaction from Patch readers and community members about what should happen to those found guilty of animal cruelty.

In St. Petersburg, a man was accused of wrapping four kittens in sandwich bags and sticking them in his freezer. Three of the kittens are recovering in Largo, while the fourth didn't survive.

And in Bradenton, a dog was found last month walking through a neighborhood after taking an ax or machete to the head and face. Local animal services officials called it the worst case of animal cruelty they had seen out of "hundreds of cases a year."

The pit bull mix, , and several rewards have been offered to help find his attacker, including

Comments on these stories ranged from some readers "rethinking their stance on the death penalty" to calls for the perpetrators to "have the book thrown at them" or to suffer the same fate as the animals.

We want to hear from you, Tampa Bay. What's the appropriate punishment for those found guilty of animal cruelty? Do you think animal cruelty laws should be tougher? Should they be as tough as those that deal with people who harm people, or is that going too far? Post your comments below.

pat December 07, 2012 at 09:54 PM
let the punishment fit the crime if they would do this to animals just imagine what they have done to children or people. i think we should have a island far away were these people who can't live in society should be dropped on this island with a gaLLON of water and a bag of seeds and let all these discussting people live together then when they want to hurt someone they cankill each other thats all they deserve our laws with everything are not working . we need updatated laws much tuffer then ever to stop all this terrible behavior from going on.. killers are no good to society. i am tired of watching the news and every night there is another killing rape abuse of animals and our children what are they doing to them. i have no pity for these people. we need our lazy politicians to get off there butts and fight for justice in this country . we are no better then any other country anymore we only do it on a smaller scale.
diane December 07, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Absolutely the laws need to be tougher. Animal abuse should be a felony with jail time - not a misdemeanor and a slap on the wrist.
Kathryn Baker December 08, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Definitely make the laws tougher. Animal abuse,neglect and cruelty should be a felony, punishable with mandatory jailtime. Anyone found guilty of any of them should be banned from ever owning an animal again.
JANA REICHERTER December 08, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Clint Eastwood: Hang'm High!
Babs Ann December 08, 2012 at 02:45 AM
This is so heartbreaking. Animals are defenseless against monsters. Stricter laws are needed.
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LORI RUBY December 08, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Put them in jail for a least a year and also be made to go thru training to teach them how to treat an animal !!! These people are what I call "animal bullies" They pick on the animals because they cant defend themselves just like people do !!!
debbie L December 08, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Anyone caught hurting an animal should never see the light of day and should be in prison with graphic pictures of what the sick people did. They should never be allowed contact with human people because these sick people are not human they are a waste of space in the world. Let them eat water and dry cereal without anything else and make sure they are neutered and spayed.
Melody Urso December 08, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Animals are living and breathing (and innocent) creatures, same as we are (although we do not qualify as innocent), and cause no harm to others (unlike humans do). Animal cruelty should be treated as a crime, same as people cruelty, along with the psychological help needed to aid these people who will, most likely do more, and even worse, in the future.
Suzanne S December 08, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Any of you ever been to a factory farm? If you are not a vegetarian (which I am) then you are - sorry to have to burst your bubble - just as guilty as the perpetrators of the heinous crimes described here. Wake up - you can't call yourself an animal lover with a big slab of tortured cow in your gut.
D'Ann White December 08, 2012 at 02:38 PM
When I hear these stories, all my impartiality goes out the window. Personally, I believe in the eye-an-eye punishment. Whatever these sick, cowardly Neanderthals did to the animal should be done to them. I'd gladly volunteer to help bury the Clair-Mel dog abuser up to his neck.
Sheila Burns December 08, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I agree with most comments about the animals ( especially Suzanne...walk your talk for all animals, become vegetarian) however those that harm animals have serious harm to themselves already...just continuing to torture them does nothing to redeem them or "us" or their victims. Don't behave like them,remove them from harming again until they can be healed from their wounds, if possible.They too have a soul inside that is calling out to be freed from the violence. Bigger picture.
Elly McCarthy December 08, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Much harsher laws are needed. These are monsters who perpetrate these abuses on animals. The stories make me literally sick to my stomach and I cry over them all! Yes, if someone could do these things to animals, they could do them to humans as well. I hate these abusers!
Sheila Burns December 08, 2012 at 03:44 PM
These abusers have already been "hated", no use adding to that. No one brought their tormentors to "Justice" or cried for the damage done to them, that's what they have learned. I am sick to death of the purely punitive reactions that created these problems & behaviors to begin with being lauded as the just "solution". Vengence, violence,cruelty cannot be justified, even against the second generation perpetrators. Enough! . Protect them & their victims from further acting out , yes, but stop perpetuating the cycle of hatred & harm & start caring enough to heal, beginning with our own triggered hatred.
Annette Renny December 08, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Let the punishment fit the crime, what is wrong with people, animals are innocent what kind of person hurts an innocent animal, if they get pleasure from this, jail time isn't enough, animals are innocent creatures, humans are not. Also we need a no kill animal service, I rescued a dog a couple weeks ago, I was not happy with the treatment of the animals, not all the workers but many were not kind. I believe our Humane society is wonderful and the people really care, but animal services has a lot to learn.
carole a core December 08, 2012 at 07:56 PM
hang them upside down from a tree with fingertips touching fire ants there is no punishment to harsh for anyone abuseing helpless animals carole core
Annette Renny December 08, 2012 at 08:01 PM
I so agree and add some poison spiders and snakes to that
Mimi December 08, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Fry the heartless bastxxrds that hurt any animal! Way stricter laws need to be in place. I so wish I could take axle, but with 2 yorkies , a dobie and a gsd house seems to be full. I rescued a dobie once and neighbors were heartless and reported to community i live in I had to many dogs. What are people thinking when you rescue and save a life!
J. W. Roberts December 08, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Violence against animals should be a felony, not a misdemeanor. Stronger penalties should include jail terms. These people are sick, but just because they might have been abused as youngsters does not mean they have the right to inflict abuse on defenseless animals. They need to understand that hurting others, whether it be humans or animals is not tolerated in our society.
Sharon Avila December 08, 2012 at 10:57 PM
One needs to remember that, statistically, those who engage in the mistreatment of animals, generally go on to hurt human beings. Almost every serial killer known to law enforcement has a history of animal abuse. These SICK individuals start with animals and then "progress" to crimes against people (generally women). If our judicial system were to hand out harsher sentences for instances of animal cruelty, it would proactively diminish crimes against people. As a lover of all animals, I cannot imagine how anyone could hurt one of God's beautiful creatures. Write your congressman and ask for a change.
Heidiho December 09, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Yes, the punishment needs to be tougher, animal abuse must be taken more seriously. Along, with spaying and neutering to help with the homeless population. We probably have now idea how many homeless animals are abused. Adoption, and purchasing of animals needs to be regulated to protect the animal from being put in a abusive situation to start with. Along with jail time, the fines need to be higher. Then the abuser must be put on a public list of not being able to own any animal ever again, if they are caught they go through the whole process of fines/and or jail time again. I am personally all for "an eye for an eye" with anyone whom harms another!
Victoria December 09, 2012 at 10:14 AM
Much Much Tougher!!!! Animals can not fight back They are helpless which makes the crime worse Shameful what goes on in the Puppy Mills God is Watching We adopted a Dog with her teeth down to the nub from trying to chew the cage to get out So bred she was incontinent All her poor life spent in a cage. Shame on them all
David Conkle December 09, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Being cruel to any animal that has the capacity to love unconditionally is a betrayal of the highest magnitude and should be punished to the full extent of the law. However, many judges just don't take animal cruelty charges seriously and let the perpetators of this sick type of behavior off way too lightly. I personally feel that anyone who would mistreat or cruely inflict pain on an animal should lose their freedom to walk among other humans beings. The psychology involved with people who abuse animals is very similar to behaviors that are used by child abusers, elderly abusers and those who prey on the most vunerable in our society. Until our judicial system and those working within realize this and take these acts of animal cruelty more seriously, then we will continue to witness violent acts against animals. So remember "Adopt don't Shop" and if you witness someone being cruel to an animal speak-up or call the authorities, contact your representatives to advocate for better laws and continue to give back the love that your pet gives you so willingly and free.
Sheri December 09, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Raven, this is so TRUE. Jeffrey Dahmer started out abusing animals. I have followed Axel's story very closely, in fact, I am one of the administrators of his Facebook page. Who ever did this to him needs to spend time in prison.
Sharon Avila December 09, 2012 at 09:51 PM
David, Excellent points and beautifully stated! Thank you.
Frank December 10, 2012 at 10:38 PM
From 1 old tired Marine. I would be happy to be on firing squad for these animal abusers. Frank, Palmetto,Fl
Sandi December 13, 2012 at 03:21 PM
ABSOLUTELY! Statistics show that mass murderers usually start with animal abuse and then graduate to fantasies about killing people. Then they act on their fantasies. So, yes to making it a felonie and getting these people on the police radar!
CM December 13, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Quote from Mahatma Ghandi: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." We have to be a "voice" for the "voiceless". For those of us who have loved our furry companions, we view them as family members. Would you tolerate any of these animal abuses if they were done to your family members? Yes, Jeffrey Dahmer started out as an animal abuser when he was a child. Plenty of women in domestic abuse shelters can attest to their family pets being abused right along with them. Why any judge or lawmaker would turn their backs on animal abuse is beyond me. It needs to be treated as if this happened to a human - no slaps on the wrist, no paying of a minimal fine. The death penalty is brought into play for humans why not for animals? Many have spoken very eloquently about what should be done, but will anyone truly take these comments and do something with them? And yes, the vegetarian brings up a good point about factory farming - abuse on another level! If you saw what happened on these farms to all animals, not just dogs and cats, you would be sickened.
Sara Davey December 20, 2012 at 04:07 PM
This is awful. Those poor kittens, and poor Axel. I cannot even imagine what would lead someone to commit these atrocities. It is truly shocking what some people will do to defenceless animals. I believe <a rel="follow" href="http://spana.org/animal-cruelty">animal cruelty</a> laws need to be stricter. No one has a right to do this to any living thing, human or non-human. The worry here is that those who abuse animals often end up abusing humans too – the domino effect.
Danielle Fernandez January 10, 2013 at 11:58 PM
This is just beyond heart breaking,people get a slap on the hand for what they do to the animals it crazy,if you dont like animals, fine dont have them, dont hurt them. They should most definitely do jail time and have a huge fine and donate it to the a.s.p.c.a. They should be charged as if it were a human that they were convicting the crime against. I hope the law changes very soon it breaks my heart.

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