On October 27, 2012, southern California resident Andre Delgado poured lighter fluid on Buddy, a 3-year-old basset hound adopted from Bassett Hound Rescue of Southern California, then set the dog on fire. The incident was reported by a neighbor.
Police arrived at the scene to find Buddy had suffered severe burns, and later died. After investigating the evidence, Delgado was arrested two weeks later. In March 2013, Delgado was sentenced 16 months in jail, being charged for arson to property – not for animal cruelty.
The FBI defines animal cruelty as: “Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment. Included are instances of duty to provide care, e.g., shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured; transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., uses objects to beat or injure an animal. This definition does not include proper maintenance of animals for show or sport; use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing or trapping.”
FBI Facilitates Massive Change
The FBI recently announced that animal cruelty will now be classified as a Group A felony with its own category (similar to homicide, drug trafficking, arson, and assault), carrying a prison sentence. Animal abuse was formerly labeled broadly as “all other offenses.”
Finally, the FBI has made animal cruelty a top-tier, “crime against society” felony! The four areas that law enforcement will be required to report are: simple or gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse (e.g. dogfighting), and animal sexual abuse.
Within a couple of years (est. January 2016), animal cruelty statistics will be available in the FBI’s regular crime statistics reports for analysis and reporting. These new comprehensive statistics have the potential to create awareness and prevention of animal abuse.
Studies show that many perpetrators who engage in violence against humans have a history of animal abuse as well. New data could lead to intervention and better resource allocation in an effort to prevent recidivism.