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article imageFBI toughens stance on animal cruelty cases

By Megan Hamilton     Oct 8, 2014 in Crime
Quincy - She was beaten so severely that her skull was fractured and several other bones were broken as well. She'd been stabbed in the eye and her tongue had been split. Her nose had been burned, and at two years old she was less than half her normal weight.
Kiya's owner sold her through Craigslist to new owners, but they abandoned her and the young pit bull puppy wound up in the hands of a monster.
Her tragic story took place in Quincy, Massachusetts. She suffered injuries that were so severe that she had to be euthanized, and this caused a huge public outcry. Her story was made public and she became known to the nation as "Puppy Doe."
This is Kiya  the puppy who was allegedly tortured by Radoslaw Czerkawski.
This is Kiya, the puppy who was allegedly tortured by Radoslaw Czerkawski.
Youtube screenshot
The cruelty she suffered before she died inspired lawmakers to impose stricter legislation that increased penalties for those convicted of animal cruelty, The Patriot Ledger reports. It was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in the summer of 2014.
This new law lengthens the maximum prison sentence for a charge of animal cruelty from five to seven years in prison. It raises the maximum fine from $2,500 to $5,000, the Ledger reports. The bill also ups the maximum prison sentence to 10 years for repeat offenders.
Now the FBI is following suit.
The organization has traditionally grouped animal abuse under the label "other" along with several "lesser" crimes. This made cruelty cases challenging to find, difficult to count and even more difficult to track. Now, the FBI has announced earlier this month that it classify animal cruelty as a Group A felony, replete with its own category — the same way in which crimes like homicide, arson, and assault are listed, The Associated Press reports, per The Huffington Post.
It's long been established that young people who commit violence against animals may grow up to commit violence against people. This new federal category for animal cruelty crimes will hopefully bring those who abuse pets into the limelight before they begin harming their fellow humans. It should also aid in prosecutions, notes the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles.
"It will help get better sentences, sway juries and make for better plea bargains," Madeline Bernstein, president and CEO of the ASPCA told the AP. Bernstein is also a former New York prosecutor.
Re-classifying animal cruelty as a Group A felony will help identify young offenders, and, Bernstein said, a defendant may realize "if he gets help now, he won't turn into Jeffrey Dahmer."
Law enforcement agencies will be required to report incidents and arrests in these four categories: simple or gross neglect; intentional abuse and torture; organized abuse--this includes dogfighting and cockfighting; and animal sexual abuse, the FBI said in a statement, per the AP.
"The immediate benefit is it will be in front of law enforcement every month when they have to do their crime reports," John Thompson, who worked to institute the new category, and who is interim executive director of the National Sheriffs' Association, told the AP. "That's something we have never seen."
Thompson, a retired assistant sheriff from Prince George's County, Maryland, added that officers will begin to see the data are facts and "not just somebody saying the 'Son of Sam killed animals before he went to human victims and 70-some percent of the school shooters abused animals prior to doing their acts before people.'"
Dahmer got his start by impaling the heads of dogs, frogs, and cats on sticks, and David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam" killer, poisoned his mother's parakeet. Albert DeSalvo, known as the "Boston Strangler," imprisoned cats and dogs in wooden crates and killed the poor creatures by shooting arrows through the crates, and FBI studies have highlighted this, the AP reports.
Implementing this is going to take time and money in order to update FBI and law enforcement databases nationwide, revise manuals and send out guidelines, Thompson said. This means that there won't be any data collected until January 2016. In addition, it will take several months before there are numbers to analyze.
These new animal cruelty statistics will make it easier for police and counselors to work with kids who show the budding signs of trouble, so a preschooler hurting animals today won't be hurting a person two years from now, Bernstein said, per the AP.
Sadly, Puppy Doe's alleged torturer, Radoslaw Czerkawski, 33, won't face the stiffer penalties imposed by lawmakers because he was charged before the new law was approved, according to Publicus.com. Instead, he will be subject to the penalties that existed prior to the enacting of the new law.
However, Czerkawski, will also go on trial in February on charges that he allegedly stole $130,000 from an elderly woman who lived in Quincy and suffered from dementia. He was her caretaker and she died on the very same day that Puppy Doe was discovered outside near the woman's home, police said, per the article.
Czerkawski has been charged with two counts of larceny of property valued at over $250, one count of larceny from a person over the age of 60, and one count of attempted larceny. While a trial date has yet to be set for the Puppy Doe case, he will go on trial in the larceny case on Feb. 9.
While it is heartbreaking that this sweet dog suffered so horribly, it's encouraging to know that future animal abusers in Massachusetts will face harsher penalties, and hopefully, now that the FBI has beefed up its classification of animal cruelty nationwide, abusers will find it more difficult to slip under the radar.
More about FBI animal cruelty, puppy doe, the associated press, the boston globe, Craigslist
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