September 22, 2014
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Now a bite for the bark

People love their pets. Some people take it to the extreme and dress their pooches in tutus, but most just consider their companion animals a part of their extended families. It’s hard not to get attached to something that cohabitates with you, gives you unconditional love and eats your cooking no matter how bad it is.

Take the example of Maddie Eustis, the 16-year-old who burst into tears when she was unexpectedly reunited with the cat she thought had passed away two weeks prior while volunteering at an animal shelter. The cat, a 19-year-old tabby named Sydney, was like a sister to Eustis; she had never known life without her.

Then there’s the ongoing dog poisoning scandal plaguing the Governor Francis Farms neighborhood. Ten dogs have fallen ill and five have died as a result of potential malicious poisonings. Residents are itching for a suspect to be named and are also afraid that their dog could be next. Even those from outside of the neighborhood are outraged by the tale. How could someone do something so awful to a dog?

Animal lovers have strong feelings about their pets and about the welfare of four-legged friends in general. It’s those people that pushed for the new animal advocate law to be adopted in the state and succeeded.

Pearl Salotto, who is best known for her pet therapy work with Samoyeds (big, beautiful, white, fluffy dogs), was instrumental in getting the law off the ground. Her idea to have a court spokesperson for dogs involved in animal cruelty cases blossomed into a law that was signed by the governor in June. Now animals who had no voice before will have the representation of a member of RISPCA or the DEM to ensure they are “heard.” What the law ultimately does is protect the innocent (the animal) and ensure the guilty (the abuser) gets the sentence they deserve.

Although the new law has not been put to the test yet, advocates are hopeful it will also be effective at keeping animals out of confinement while they are awaiting their hearings.

To those who don’t have a soft spot for animals, it may seem like a step overboard – though be advised, the new law will not cost taxpayers “one red cent,” according to Dr. E.J. Finocchio of the RISPCA. But for animal fanatics, the new law has been a long time coming. It gives voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.


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