People who abuse animals are some of the lowest criminals out there. Animals almost always just want to offer love and support. They won't fight back and most are powerless to stop the mistreatment some people direct towards them.
Animal shelters and rescues are filled with dogs and cats that have been cruelly mistreated by people who shouldn't be walking our streets. Despite the fact that most Americans support tough crime penalties, animal abuse has relatively mild repercussions.
A few years ago some counties began registering animal abusers. This helped keep defenseless animals out of the clutches of those who would abuse them. It became a tool for shelters and ordinary citizens to screen those who would be taking care of pets.
Now, the entire state of Michigan is setting out to change the way we look at animal abuse. There'll be no more free ride for those who think they can hurt animals without penalty.
Two new laws are about to take effect this month. One will more than double the penalty for killing or torturing an animal. Now the maximum sentence allowed will be 10 years in prison. Similarly, the penalty for killing an animal to inflict emotional distress on another human being will also be 10 years in prison.
That's a stern message for abusers out there.
The previous penalty for torture or killing an animal was four years, although that sentence was rarely handed out. The changes signal that society is fed up with people who abuse animals.
It's known that animal abuse is a red flag and precursor to violent action taken towards humans. I'm glad we're no longer tolerating those who would hurt the four-legged friends that many of us have come to depend on.