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Susie's Law toughens penalties for animal cruelty

Posted June 23, 2010

— The plight of a dog set on fire and left to die spurred an effort to make sure that people convicted of animal cruelty in North Carolina can spend time in jail.

Susie's Law, or House Bill 1609, reclassifies the "malicious abuse, torture or killing" of an animal as a Class H felony. That increases the penalties for animal cruelty to a maximum 10-month jail sentence.

The law is a named after Susie, now a 1-year-old pit bull-shepherd mix. As a puppy, Susie was beaten, set on fire and left to die. Susie survived, was rescued and has been adopted. She lost her ears, though, and still bears scars.

Lashawn Whitehead, 21, of Greensboro, was convicted of felony cruelty to animals and sentenced to probation.

Advocates of Susie's Law said they were outraged that state law allowed White to be sentenced only to probation.

"This is a serious offense," said Mondy Lamb, spokeswoman for the SPCA of Wake County. "Beating animals, kicking animals, starving animals to the point of death or beyond should be punished by more than just a slap on the wrist."

Perdue to sign bill giving jail time for animal cruelty Perdue to sign bill giving jail time for animal cruelty

Lamb said she has seen equally horrible cases of animal abuse in Wake County. She described the case of Finn, now a 10-month-old pointer mix.

"He was left in a closet to starve to death," Lamb said. "The closet was full of feces. He didn't have food or water, we suspect, for as many as seven to 10 days."

The person convicted of abusing Finn was also sentenced to probation.

Whitehead did receive a two-year prison sentence after being convicted of indecent liberties with a minor and burning personal property, according to state Department of Correction records.

Gov. Bev Perdue is expected to sign Susie's Law Wednesday afternoon. It will take effect Dec. 1.


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  • wildcat Jun 24, 2010

    "The stupid law makes shooting a stray dog or cat a felony..."

    Good. Hopefully you won't be posting from jail.

    Love your comment. Love the new law! Now all animals are protected.

  • wildcat Jun 24, 2010

    Love the animal and the animal will surely love you back.

  • wildcat Jun 24, 2010

    If you don't know how, or dislike any kind of animal, then you don't need one in your care or around you. PERIOD!

  • itsmyownopinion Jun 24, 2010

    "The stupid law makes shooting a stray dog or cat a felony..."

    Good. Hopefully you won't be posting from jail.

  • HereswhatIthink Jun 24, 2010

    Isn't it interesting that some people who claim they don't care about animals always end up reading the animal related stories and posting? If you dislike animals so much, then why do you bother to read the stories? I don't care for sports so I don't bother to read the sports stories - make sense? And to the people that always say we should not put animals above humans - again this story is about a dog. A dog that was abused terribly by a human and about a group of people that saw this a wrong and wanted to do something about it. They are my hero!

  • ConcernedNCC Jun 24, 2010

    People who torture animals are practicing for when they eventually do it to people. History of serial killers has shown this to be true. These people need put away for a mandatory ten months.

  • bbooe1 Jun 23, 2010

    Go bev thank you for careing for animals. And us that love them so much. beverly

  • enigma1469 Jun 23, 2010

    bigmelons2004: An animal is an animal. A cow a cow and a chicken a chicken. By default a dog is a dog.

  • bigmelons2004 Jun 23, 2010

    A life is a life, whether it has a little hair or a lot of hair. It is still a life.

  • Shadow213 Jun 23, 2010

    it really makes me angry when people pull the: "animal's life shouldn't/isn't worth as much as a human life" card. who are YOU to judge how much a life is worth? the bottom line is that a person who does not see the value in an animal's life enough to go out of their way to abuse them, probably doesn't see the value in a human's life either.