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December 27, 2005 > Voices For Pets... speaking out for justice for animals

Voices For Pets... speaking out for justice for animals

by Nancy Lyon

In 1994, Ohlone Humane Society received a phone call from Leroy Moyer; Leroy was looking for support from local animal welfare organizations in gathering a reward to help bring to justice a cruel and sick animal abuser. A cowardly individual had broken into the Hayward Animal Shelter and mutilated and killed a defenseless cat that was to be adopted the following day. From this terrible incident would come a long-working association and friendship with Leroy based on respect for this courageous person.

Seeking justice is a noble undertaking... actually having it come to pass for animals would prove to be far more difficult. Our legal system has a long and sad history of disregarding the seriousness of animal cruelty cases. And while there are laws making it illegal to intentionally and cruelly injure or kill an animal, they are often not enforced or do not have serious repercussions for the perpetrators.

Taking up the fight against the tradition of disregard for crimes against animals is a long and arduous task- a road less traveled by only the committed. Yet, in 1993 an animal cruelty case in Danville, Calif. would lead quiet-spoken and compassionate Leroy Moyer down that road.

A Danville man, Ryan Robbins, had just returned from a year of military training and was showing off his military skills in front of 15 young people. Jingles, the family cat, became his victim. He first tried to wring Jingles' neck. When Jingles didn't die, Robbins struck her against a kitchen cabinet several times. Still alive, Jingles was beheaded with a meat cleaver.

When questioned by police, Robbins responded that it was no big deal at the Virginia Military Institute and that he had a hard time believing his actions should be treated as a criminal matter. Even though such cruelty to an animal is a crime that is punishable under existing law by a fine of up to $20,000 and a three year prison term for felonies, Ryan Robbins was charged with a misdemeanor and fined only $200.

From that act of senseless inhumanity, and the failure of the legal system to seriously view the act, would come the beginnings of Voices For Pets, a nonprofit organization seeking to respond to acts of animal cruelty and pursuing justice for those who cannot seek justice for themselves.

And they would be heard.

Voices has come a long way since 1993. Today, because of its efforts, animal abusers increasingly receive more felony convictions with jail time, but only in those cases where they respond with a tremendous effort. There is still a lack of serious prosecution in animal cruelty cases. Law enforcement's response to animal cruelty is where domestic violence was 20 years ago. Police generally do not want to get involved and no one does time in jail.

That is changing.

In its response to violence against animals, Voices is actively seeking to strengthen and enforce laws against animal crimes advocating successful prosecution of those who perpetuate these types of crimes. Their mission is to educate the public about these crimes and encourage responsible animal guardianship, housing and care.

People who kill and maim pets are cowards, lusting for power and dominance over defenseless victims. This is the same twisted mindset of people who victimize children, women and the elderly. According to FBI research, 85 percent of serial killers start off by killing neighborhood pets. Having a person who purposely harms animals in your neighborhood is not only a threat to pets, but also to you and your entire family.

I am honored to call Leroy Moyer, founder and director of Voices For Pets, a friend and colleague. While he would be the first to downplay his role, he is an individual of courage and vision; qualities to be highly valued and so very necessary in this increasingly violent world.

OHS asks that you lend your support and time because without you they would not be able to report Voices' many hard-won successes on behalf of animals. We invite you to visit and learn more of the important work of Voices For Pets at www.voicesforpets.org or call (925) 685-5388.

Mohandas Gandhi, a greatly wise and compassionate voice said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Are we up to the challenge?

 
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