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Rough justice for puppy farmers


“There are those who would argue that you should be confined in a house trailer with no ventilation or in a cell three-by-seven with eight or ten other inmates with no plumbing, no exercise and no opportunity to feel the sun or smell fresh air. However, the courts of this land have held that such treatment is cruel and inhuman, and it is. You will not be treated in the same way that you treated these helpless animals that you abused to make a dollar.”

As Animal Welfare Minister Elliot Morley ponders overhauling the UK’s animal welfare laws and considers introducing harsher penalties for people convicted of cruelty to animals, he could do worse than consider the harsh sentences handed down to two puppy farmers found guilty of neglect by a judge in Memphis, Tennessee, USA last week.

Local media reported that the ruling by Judge Alan Glen was “worthy of a standing ovation.”

Filthy

Judge Glen rejected an appeal of a couple from Humboldt, Tennessee, who had bred and kept as many as 350 dogs sick and starving in filthy kennels. Not only did Judge Glen deal very sternly with the offenders, he delivered an excellent oratory that one local newspaper said ought to be framed above the door of every court that handles animal abuse cases.

Judge Glen said: “The Court finds that Judy Fay Johnson and Stanley Paul Johnson have been found guilty of 11 counts of cruelty to animals. Bonds are set at $1,000 in each of the 11 counts, which was done by a jury of good and lawful citizens of Gibson County.

“Over 350 puppies and dogs were victims of this gross violation of the law. The victims of this crime were animals that could not speak up to the unbelievable conduct of Judy Fay Johnson and Stanley Paul Johnson that they suffered. Several of the dogs have died and most had physical problems such as intestinal worms, mange, eye problems, dental problems and emotional problems and socialisation problems.

“Since dogs have entered domestic service of human beings, they have given solace and companionship when needed. They have helped hunt, guard flocks, and in ice and snow have pulled sleds. “They have rescued people when lost in snowdrifts. They act as police in sniffing out crimes, and they become eyes for those who cannot see. They guard homes and possessions. All this, these creatures do for kind, humane treatment.

“Watching this video of the conditions that these dogs were subjected to was one of the most deplorable things this Court has observed in the 22 years in the course of being on the bench. “And though, Judy Fay Johnson, you urge this Court to take into consideration the mitigating factors that you’ve been sick up to two years prior to them being rescued from your care. You say you’ve been sick. You talked about reducing the population, but the only thing you did was sell puppies.

“The Court finds that you have a previous history of criminal convictions or criminal behaviour, that the offence involved more than one victim, that the victims were particularly vulnerable, that you have a previous history of unwillingness to comply with conditions of a sentence involving release into the community, and that you abused the position of public or private trust. “The Court further finds that you were charged with this exact same charge in 1993, and after a period of probation, the matter was dismissed.

“Judy Fay Johnson, you’re sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in each of the 11 counts of cruelty to animals. These will be run concurrent. Further, this Court finds that probation would not serve the ends of justice, nor be in the best interest of the public, nor would this have a deterrent effect for such gross behaviour.

“Therefore, you, Judy Fay Johnson, shall serve six months of your sentence on condition that you make restitution to the Dyersburg Humane Society for $3,242 for the expenses involved in freeing those dogs from their purgatory and your payment of the fine and costs in full. You are further prohibited from ever running or owning any animal kennel or owning any animal as a pet.

Abused

“Stanley Johnson, the Court finds that your offences involve more than one victim. The victims were particularly vulnerable. You treated the victims with exceptional cruelty. You abused the position of public or private trust. You were charged with the exact same charge in 1993 that after a period of probation was dismissed.

“You are sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in each of the 11 counts. . . . You shall serve 90 days of your sentence on condition that $3,242 be paid to the Dyersburg Humane Society for the expenses involved in removing the helpless dogs from your custody. You are further prohibited from ever running or owning any animal kennel or owning any animal as a pet.

“There are those who would argue that you should be confined in a house trailer with no ventilation or in a cell three-by- seven with eight or ten other inmates with no plumbing, no exercise and no opportunity to feel the sun or smell fresh air. However, the courts of this land have held that such treatment is cruel and inhuman, and it is. You will not be treated in the same way that you treated these helpless animals that you abused to make a dollar.”