Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Getting Away With Torture

At left is a two-year old dog named China. Take a look at her neck. That isn't a collar. It's the wound left behind after a chain was surgically removed.

At right is Otis Clark of Somerville, Ohio. He kept China chained--which was perfectly legal since Ohio has no law forbidding or even restricting the practice. He did it for so long and paid so little attention that the chain actually became embedded in her neck. More than an inch deep.

Eventually someone rescued China and took her to Butler County's Animal Friends Humane Society. Clark claimed to have become aware of China's condition but lacked the money to take her to a veterinarian. China had emergency surgery. When the chain was removed, the stench was so powerful that several volunteers had to leave the room.

Clark, of course, was cited for animal cruelty. WLWT-TV of Cincinnati took it for granted that China would need a new home and gave out the humane society's phone number.

Wrong answer. Clark pleaded no contest, was convicted of animal cruelty, and was placed on probation. He nonetheless petitioned to get China back. Amazingly, Judge Robert H. Lyons granted Clark's request. Maybe he bought the contention of Clark's attorney: "I understand that they’re upset about it, but I think my guy loves his dog. That’s what he told me, ‘I love that dog.’”

Clark has a weird idea of what it means to love.

Judge Lyons did impose a list of conditions. And boy, are they ever strict! See for yourself:
1. The dog is licensed.

2. The dog is not to be tied.

3. The dog is to be vet checked every 90 days and results given to Mr Clark's probation officer. If the dog is not being properly cared for, it would constitute a probation violation. The first vet check is to be done on or about November 2, 2007. Failure to do the required vet checks would be a probation violation.

4. Mr Clark will be subject to random home visits be the probation department. If the probation officer finds that the dog is not being properly cared for it would constitute a probation violation.

5. Mr Clark is to make full restitution to the Humane Society, the payments are to be made in accordance with the payment agreement established through the probation department. Failure to make the agreed payments will constitute a probation violation.

6. Mr Clark is to read the book on dog care given to him by the court.

The dog is to be returned to defendant Otis Clark once the dog is licensed. If Mr Clark does not comply with the orders of the court or the terms of community control the dog will be forfeited and Mr Clark will face the possibility of 180 days of incarceration.
Apparently in Judge Lyons' book, just because you torture a dog doesn't mean you can't be a responsible pet owner.

Needless to say, Judge Lyons has refused to comment on his decision.

The Butler County prosecutor said that he would refer the case to the appellate division in hopes of having the decision overturned. Animal activists are, of course, outraged, and plan a rally outside the Butler County court house. It's scheduled for August 16 from noon to 2 p.m.

PETA has requested a letter writing campaign in which people "politely" ask Judge Lyons to reverse his decision. Don't hold your breath.

But you don't have to be an animal activist to be outraged. Being an ordinary human being should suffice.



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