Former Mayor Ed O’Brien called on West Haven’s legislative delegation Thursday to introduce an amendment to the Animal Cruelty Law that stiffens penalties for violent acts involving animals.
O’Brien called for an amendment that includes a two-year mandatory prison sentence during a press conference at Sandy Point Park where a one-year-old schnauzer was set on fire in a cage on July 4. It was one of three vicious and intentional attacks on dogs in the past two weeks where the animals were killed.
“This is not who we are in West Haven – we will not tolerate such violent acts,” said O’Brien, who was joined by several animal rights advocates including Heather Scutti, Executive Director of StaRelief & Pet Assistance “We need to make sure that we stop this now to protect helpless animals who have no protection. Vicious assaults like this can lead to other acts of aggression and violence beyond helpless animals, especially children.”
O’Brien noted that he was a member of the statewide Task Force for Humane Treatment of Animals. During his tenure, he saw many examples of animal cruelty and neglect that makes one question how a person could be so heartless.
“These are helpless trusting animals that deserve protection,” said O’Brien, a dog owner himself. “We need to aggressively respond to these outbreaks by making people pay for their actions and ban them from owning or living with animals for up to 15 years after conviction. It reflects so much about a person’s character and their reputation will be damaged long after they serve their time and pay the fine.”
O’Brien called on the city’s delegation in Hartford to take the lead in introducing legislation that would increase the penalty to two years in prison for the first offense and $2500 fine plus community service. Subsequent offenses should carry a mandatory five-year penalty, and $10,000 fine, he said. Currently, the first offense penalty is one-year imprisonment and a $1000 fine while subsequent violations call for five years and a $5000 fine.