November 4, 2003
PETA urges jail time for dog neglect
Deputy D.A. says she doesn’t need PETA to tell her to vigorously
prosecute the case of a Sams Valley coupleBy DAMIAN
An animal rights group is urging the Jackson County District
Attorney’s Office to seek jail time for a Sams Valley couple charged
with neglect of 41 dogs.
"Incarceration would be appreciated and encouraged," said Dan
Paden, cruelty caseworker for People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals in Norfolk, Va.
Paden’s organization also is asking for psychological evaluations
and mandatory counseling of Anita and Brian McKenna, who pleaded not
guilty last week to 41 counts of second-degree animal neglect, a
PETA sent a letter to the district attorney’s office Monday,
pointing out that these types of neglect cases often are part of a
pattern of abuse.
who demonstrate such blatant disregard for life and desensitization
to suffering can pose a definitive risk to the people and animals
with whom they come in contact," the letter said.
The maximum penalty for neglect is six months’ jail time, but
Rachel Bridges, deputy district attorney, said she isn’t sure yet
whether her office will push for that.
"They (PETA) don’t need to urge me to vigorously prosecute," she
After animal control officials seized the dogs in September, at
least 19 were euthanized because they had severe heartworm or
Paden said he wasn’t critical of the district attorney’s office
for not charging the couple with a more severe crime, but he wants
to make sure it vigorously prosecutes the case.
"We’ve run into plenty of jurisdictions that don’t prosecute and
are apathetic," he said.
Bridges, who hadn’t yet seen a copy of the PETA letter Monday,
said the evidence supported the charge of neglect.
"If I had evidence of another crime they would be charged with
it," she said. "There was no evidence they beat the dogs."
If the couple are convicted, they will be prohibited from
possessing a domestic animal for five years, she said.
Steven Johnson, a Medford attorney hired by the McKennas, said
his clients aren’t sure if they can raise the $20,000 for a security
bond that would preserve the animals so they aren’t euthanized or
placed in homes.
If they pay the bond and are cleared of the neglect charges, they
could take possession of the animals when the case is settled.
The letter from PETA urged the district attorney’s office to take
every measure necessary to ensure the McKennas are prohibited from
possessing animals in the future, including the nine dogs remaining
in the animal shelter.
The case is scheduled to go to trial April 6.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=PETA
urges jail time for dog neglect