Stiffen the penalty for animal cruelty

Like many other Western New Yorkers, I was shocked and disgusted to learn that a few weeks ago someone had lit a 16-week-old Jack Russell Terrier puppy, now named Phoenix, on fire. I have two puppies at home that my boyfriend and I treat like our children and I cannot even begin to fathom what type of hateful monster would do this to an innocent animal.

On Nov. 14, the community learned that 17-year-old Diondre Brown and 19-year-old Adell Zeigler, both of whom were described as violent and having criminal pasts, are facing felony charges for aggravated animal cruelty and if convicted could face up to one-and-one-third to four years in prison.

Under current New York State animal cruelty laws, it is clear that Phoenix will not get the justice he deserves and that many community members feel is appropriate. How can this deplorable act carry such a small jail sentence? There have been numerous studies and professional articles written about how killing and being cruel to animals is a stepping-stone for sociopathic individuals, which increases the likelihood they will kill again in the future and even graduate to killing people.

The justice system has a duty to protect animals and society from such dangerous individuals and New York State needs to stiffen the penalty for animal cruelty, especially when it is this sick and violent in nature.

Zabrina V. Reich