Yesterday, in a Kay County, OK courtroom, Jerry Lee Southern plead guilty to 5 counts of cruelty to animals.
In December, 2008, more than 100 dogs were found on his property, chained up in an open field with only water bowls and a barrel for shelter (pics are available here). Several were found dead on the property. Southern told officials he was giving the dogs "a handful" of food a day.
Southern was originally charged with 70 counts of animal cruelty (after being arrested on 96 counts) - but plead guilty to only 5. For his plea, Southern was sentenced to 90 days in jail, and has to now pay $10,000 to three rescue organizations that took in many of the dogs from his hoarding operation.
What makes the light sentencing even worse is that Southern isn't a first-time offender. Five years ago the state of Kansas forbid him from ever owning dogs in the state again as part of his conviction for a similar incident.
While it is very common for many of the national animal welfare organizations to push for more state laws regarding animal cruelty, I don't think more laws are the answer. Under Oklahoma state law, Southern could have received up to 5 years in prison FOR EACH ANIMAL -- but instead, after awaiting a sentencing for 20 months following his arrest, he receive only 3 months total. Laws aren't the problem....but getting judges to prosecute cruelty cases -- particularly for repeat offenders -- is essential if we are to make a dent in animal cruelty and the many problems that come with it.
The good news is that many of the dogs were fortunate enough to be rescued and are living happily in homes. Our (former) foster dog Boomer (pictured) continues to do great with his forever family, and many others are doing great as well.
For more back story on Boomer and the other Kay County Dogs:
Slideshow of the Kay County Dogs - Bad Rap
The Anatomy of a rescue - Bad Rap
Dogs Rescued from Newkirk, OK - KC Dog Blog
Nameless! - KC Dog Blog
Let me officially introduce Boomer - KC Dog Blog
Boomer Update - KC Dog Blog
Boomer's Former Owner Goes to Court - KC Dog Blog
Boom-Dog finds forever home - KC Dog Blog
For more -- check out the commentary over at Bad Rap.