Henrico Man to Serve 30 Days in Animal Cruelty Case
A Varina man who shot a neighbor's puppy has been sentenced to jail, but most of the time was suspended.
79-year-old Mack Hudson claims the Australian Shepherd puppy that he saw running across his lawn scared him to death. Hudson went into his house, loaded his shotgun, got in his truck, found the dog and shot it. Hudson was sentenced to twelve months, with eleven suspended and an order to pay the veterinary bills that brought the dog, named Grace, back to health. Prosecutor Heidi Barschinger said that while Hudson is elderly and has no prior record, there were eqregious facts and significant injuries to the animal. His lawyer said Hudson will appeal the sentence. The Richmond SPCA was appalled by that sentence.
Starr: This man got his gun, went purposefully, got his gun, took it and shot the puppy and then, it is our understanding from the puppy's owners, that after he had shot the puppy, he took a garden hoe and beat the puppy with a garden hoe as the puppy lay suffering from the gunshot wound.
SPCA President and CEO Robin Starr says the incident, once again, reveals how inadequate Virginia law is when it comes to protecting animals.
Starr: The man was charged with a Class One misdemeanor and that, in the first place, is a dreadfully inadequate crime for him to have been charged with. But, that is all that Virginia law will permit, because in order to be charged with felony animal abuse a person must have actually killed the animal by virtue of the intentional abuse and it must be the second time that that person has killed an animal through intentional abuse.
Starr said it would be unfair to criticize the Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney's office in this case.
Starr: They charged him with all Virginia law permits them to charge him with. What is deeply disturbing to us is that even though that charge is much less than we would wish, the judge did not even sentence him to the maximum sentence that he could have. He sentenced him to a fine of five hundred dollars, restitution of the veterinary costs and twelve months in jail, but eleven months of that time was suspended. So, in effect, he only has to serve one month in jail. We at the Richmond SPCA regard as completely inadequate for the brutality of the crime committed.
With considerable support from the public, the SPCA and other animal rights groups have been trying for years to get the General Assembly to change the law to make intentional animal cruelty a felony offense.
Starr: The General Assemby has been very resistant to any steps that would increase the level of crime to be charged and the penalty associated with animal abuse. And, just as troubling, our courts continue to give nothing but slaps on the wrist to these brutal crimes and they don't even sentence these people to what the law would permit.
And Starr added there's another strong argument for changing the law.
Starr: There is a well-documented consistency between human abuse and animal abuse and also between all kinds of other very serious crimes against society and animal abuse.
In the case of Mack Hudson at sentencing, Judge Jaime Yaffee said what he's guilty of is poor judgement.