Animal activists are speaking out after a Syracuse pit bull was found so badly treated and malnourished she had to be euthanized.
Syracuse Dog Control described the pit bull, named Grace, as "extremely emaciated. You could see every bone in its body. She was dehydrated." She was taken to the DeWitt animal hospital, but could not be saved. The owner, Marquette Jamison told police she knew the dog was in bad shape but didnâ??t have the money to care for her.
A group called Cuse Pit Crew, founded by sisters Nicole Heath and Stefani Heath-Higgins, wants tougher laws for people found guilty of animal abuse. They say Grace is one of many pit bulls who had died from abuse and neglect.
"I was shocked and appalled like most of the community has been... However doing this type of work, weâ??ve seen this before. Grace is a very extreme case of neglect," says Heath-Higgins.
Within hours after Grace was euthanized, Cuse Pit Crew was circulating a petition urging state Senator David Valesky to lead them in helping change the law.
The petition on Cuse Pit Crewâ??s website asks the state legislature to pass a law to move animal cruelty statutes out of the hands of the Department of Agriculture and Markets and make them part of the state penal law, which could lead to more serious felony charges.
"We want to make sure that we send a real serious message that our community is not going to tolerate abuse and neglect of animals," says Heath. "I think what people need to remember with abuse toward animals is that a lot of people that abuse and neglect animals turn around and abuse and neglect people."
The current law makes neglect only a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine. The advocates want that law changed to make the crime a felony.
The petition is directed specifically to state Senator Valesky for two reasons; he sits on the senate agriculture committee, which oversees animal cruelty legislation, and Cuse Pit Crew has already been in touch with Valesky, who they feel was receptive to the idea of making animal abuse a felony offense. Valesky could not be reached for comment.
In two days, the petition had over 900 signatures and by Tuesday morning, they were just shy of their goal to reach 1500 signatures.
Jamison turned down our request for an interview. She faces two charges of animal cruelty under the state Department of Agriculture and Markets Law.