Local groups hope for stricter punishments in animal abuse cases

With all the human-on-human crime we have to report, most days, what people do to animals can get lost.

But Lauren Riehle of Red Dog Farm Animal Rescue Network says there is plenty of animal abuse going on.

“I think it's still a pretty big deal, yes,” Riehle said. “There are lots of days where I go home and kind of cry at the end of the day because I feel sad for that animal.”

But Red Dog and other groups work to rehabilitate those animals and then find new homes for them, when possible. It’s Chris Parrish’s job to then work on what punishment abusers get.

“Emotion gets involved in these cases - as it should - but when we're looking at the law, I have to have the elements,” said Parrish, who has prosecuted nearly 50 animal abuse cases for the Guilford County District Attorney’s office.

And that might require a change in the law – one Sue Rogers of Ruff Love Rescue says is long overdue.

“Animals in North Carolina are considered personal property. To me, that's a big problem,” Rogers said. “So, if they were sentient beings, there might be a way for the counties to press charges or come up with new ordinances.”

Because, as Parrish sees it, you don’t have to beat an animal for it to be abuse.

“Animal cruelty is not just an overt act, it can be an act of omission, just not giving water, shelter,” he says.

Candi Lewis is a rescue volunteer and works at the Davidson County Animal Shelter as well and she knows exactly what Parrish is talking bout.

“People can do the bare minimum and get by with it, and that's a big issue,” Lewis said. “Three walls and a floor is not an adequate shelter for an animal.”

See what these animal lovers are up against, in this edition of the Buckley Report.