Friday, January 22, 2010

Hoarding, Mental Illness and Animal Cruelty

By Doris Lin

Animal rights activists frequently lament the leniency of penalties in animal cruelty cases. For example, in 2009, Luis Alvarez in New Bedford, RI was sentenced to only 90 days in prison for killing his wife's 3-month old kitten in a jealous rage. In 2007, Ned Proffitt in Decatur, TN received a suspended sentence (the defendant serves no jail time as long as he stays out of trouble for a certain amount of time) for killing puppies with a hammer and paid only $2,000 in restitution.

Hoarding, however, is now increasingly recognized as a sign of mental illness, and courts are starting to treat it as such. Under a plea deal struck last week, Kenneth Lang Jr. in Dearborn, MI with over 100 live chihuahuas "in cramped and squalid conditions" and over 100 dead chihuahuas in freezers in his home will serve no jail time. Instead, he will serve five years probation in a pilot mental health court program..." More