I’ve been keeping an ongoing report on the Iowa Cold Cases website documenting the needless destruction and deaths — all across the nation and abroad — brought about by copper thieves. I had cases from all 50 states. From Asia and Australia, Canada and China, Scotland and South Africa. And more.

I thought I’d seen it all. I was wrong.

My list of deaths is likely far from complete, but one thing has always remained constant: of the 50+ deaths already listed, only one name — Earl Thelander — falls under the category “Innocent Victims.”  Earl was my stepfather, married to my mother just shy of 25 years before dying of burns suffered in an explosion caused by copper thieves.

Courtesy photo Daily Mail
Burnt to death: Callous copper cable thieves cut down a pylon leaving live wires exposed before using a six month old foal as a ‘tester’ to check if electricity was still moving through the line.

There’s a new victim to add to the list, though I’m not quite sure how to list it. The atrocity of this particular crime falls outside the boundaries of heinous acts and anything even I could have imagined.

It happened in the UK, in Sittingbourne, Kent, where heartless copper thieves used a six-month-old foal as a “tester” to see if electricity still moved through the line they planned to cut and steal. It did, and the “horrifically burnt remains” of the foal were left in the field for its heartbroken owner — a man in his eighties — to discover the following day.

The crime not only claimed the trusting foal’s life, it also plunged 3,000 homes into complete darkness once the thieves cut down the pylon.

Day after day I read the harrowing stories: copper thieves leaving an animal welfare league, with 86 animals, without air conditioning in the July heat; copper thieves silencing 10 sirens during a tornado warning; copper thieves leaving hundreds of Verizon customers without landline, cell phone and Internet service; copper thieves causing between $250,000 and $300,000 in damage while freezing a state bridge in place; and copper thieves threatening US critical infrastructure by targeting electrical sub-stations, cellular towers, telephone land lines, railroads, water wells, construction sites, and vacant homes.

The stories are too numerous for me to include all of them on the website. And despite every new story about a copper theft death and the thief having caused his or her own death, I feel great sadness as I add yet another name to the list and think about the families left behind — families not only grieving their loved one’s death but also forced to face unsympathetic communities rife with contempt for the deceased’s offense.

Where does it stop? When will it end? When will state legislators begin to take seriously the need for strict (and enforced) scrap metal sales?

We’re waiting.

 

Sire, the 5-month-old American Bulldog killed by his owner, Bobby Loggins

Sire

His name was “Sire.”

The 5-month-old American Bulldog’s short life came to an abrupt end on June 9 when he urinated on a carpet while his owner, Bobby Loggins of Sioux City, Iowa, entertained friends.

Despite three witnesses who say otherwise, Loggins pleaded “not guilty” today to having inflicted 30 blows to Sire’s head, causing the puppy’s death. Even had Loggins pled guilty, Iowa’s current animal cruelty/torture laws would have allowed no more than aggravated misdemeanor charges being filed in his case.

The horrific puppy-killing case has drawn both statewide and national attention to animal abuse and animal torture legislation, and websites and bloggers across the U.S. are demanding change. Several focus on one key plea: those outraged with Iowa’s law should write Sioux City’s County Attorney Patrick Jennings asking that charges against Loggins be amended to reflect a crime far more serious than a simple traffic violation.

Dog Killer Bobby Loggins

Bobby Loggins

For many, Loggins’ “not guilty” plea to the misdemeanor charge only added insult to injury.

Sioux City’s KMEG 14 — who had the only crew inside the courtroom Thursday morning when Loggins pleaded not guilty — said Loggins plans to hire his own attorney before the July 21 pre-trial hearing.

Regarding the aggravated misdemeanor charge — which carries a sentence of up to two years in prison and a $6,000 fine — Siouxland Humane Society Executive Director Jerry Dominicak said, “We’re hoping for the maximum, but we would like to see the animal laws in Iowa be stronger.”

Dominicak and his staff have given out thousands of flyers asking people to flood the Woodbury County Attorney’s office with letters. “The citizens in Sioux City and the Siouxland area need their voices to be heard,” he said.

Those voices are sounding off — loud and clear.

At Monday night’s Sioux City Council meeting, local animal lovers spoke about the dog’s beating death, and the Iowa Voters for Companion Animals talked with the city council about changing city ordinance to keep convicted dog abusers from owning animals in the future.

Under “Education for Responsible Pet Ownership,” Pit Bulls for Justice began an article with “One word for Bobby: MURDERER” before reporting the crime and offering the quote: “We can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats animals, children and the elderly.”

In Lincoln, Neb., one concerned citizen called the Woodbury County Attorney’s office only to be told they would not take phone calls expressing outrage over the incident but would accept “letters for their files.” Undeterred, the Nebraska caller not only wrote and sent the letter, but posted a copy of it — along with the Woodbury County Attorney’s mailing address — to Pet Enthusiast Magazine, imploring others to write letters, too.

The Daily Hobbit’s “Beyond the Shire” also has noted the pup’s merciless killing. The article invites reader comments and prominently displays the Woodbury County Attorney address.

RunningForaPaws posted what they called a “Simple but Very Important Request” asking readers to contact Jennings and ask their letter be added to the file.

KTIV-TV reported Wednesday on the Siouxland Humane Society’s letter-writing campaign encouraging the Woodbury County Attorney to seek the toughest penalties possible.

The blog “For the Love of the Dog” — which also listed the county attorney’s address — didn’t bother mincing words. “Please, please, please…post and crosspost. Let’s get the word out and the letters and calls in!” the site reported, concluding with the final directive, “Don’t let this heartless bastard walk with just a little fine after brutally beating this defenesless little puppy!!”

Under the dogster.com forum “Dog Laws & Legislation,” there are pleas to read about “Sire’s” death and “do something!”

The Woodbury County Attorney’s address — along with, not surprisingly, more comments — shows up on the care2 make a difference site as well.

KCAU-TV in Sioux City reported today that, if convicted, Loggins could spend 2-years in prison and pay a $6250 fine. His trial is set for August.

PiddleTails took time to weigh in on what Sioux City Police Chief Doug Young called “a heinous crime.”

In addition, KPTH FOX News re-emphasized today the Humane Society’s push for stronger animal laws in Iowa and, of course, director Dominicak’s letter-writing campaign.

And, the Sioux City Journal’s June 11 article on the dog-beating death now leads the site’s “Most Commented” upon news story, with 104 angry comments — and still counting.

There are more. In fact, far more accounts of outrage than I can possibly include in this post. But, my hope is that some of the above links will provide a glimpse into a nation’s response to a particularly senseless, cruel and brutal act, and (in this case) a defendant who clearly has shown no remorse by pleading “not guilty” to a crime already defined well below the scope of its severity.

While I find the county attorney letter-writing campaign absolutely worthwhile and certainly worth pursuing, there’s still another Iowa address conspicuously missing from these appeals; it’s the one for your state legislator.

Sharpen your pencils. It’s time for change in Iowa.

Feb. 18, 2010 update: Read Jody’s latest post on this case

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HSUS Felony Cruelty Map

Don’t let the map fool you.

While the Humane Society of the United States has made enormous strides state by state in animal cruelty legislation over the past several years (due largely, in my honest opinion, to current HSUS President & CEO Wayne Pacelle’s tireless dedication and ongoing efforts), we as a civilized country still have a long way to go.

As of May 28, 2009, only four states remain without felony animal cruelty provisions, but don’t let all the others lull you into believing they don’t tolerate unspeakable crimes; many states hiding beneath the red-colored designation (meaning they have “felony legislation in place”) won’t bring about felony charges until a second or third offense. See where your state stands.

Another crime? Seeing the word “misdemeanor” in the same news article that details how a defenseless dog was beaten to death by its master for urinating on the floor.

First, though, let’s head to New York. There’s someone there you need to know.

Meet Cheyenne Cherry — sociopath-in-training

Cheyenne Cherry, a 17-year-old New York teen, was arrested June 3 after admitting she threw her former roommate’s two-month-old female kitten, Tiger Lily, into an oven and roasted the animal to death. The reason she gave for torturing Tiger Lily to death: “I hate cats.”

According to ASPCA officials, Cherry brushed the incident off as “a practical joke.”

ASPCA official Joe Pentangelo says the animal suffered “an agonizing death.” Cherry and an accomplice left the apartment as the kitten cried and scratched at the oven door, Pentangelo said.

The tragedy was discovered by neighbors who noticed smoke and a foul odor coming from the apartment. When firefighters arrived, they found Tiger Lily’s smoldered remains. Investigators say the kitten was burned so badly, a necropsy had to be performed to determine the kitten’s sex.

It wasn’t the first time the kitty-killing Cherry had used the term “practical joke” when it came to abusing or killing other people’s pets. Cherry was charged in the armed robbery dog-napping of a teacup Yorkie in a Bronx park last June, police said. And, Cherry said it was also “just a joke” after her arrest for robbing a man of his iPod at gunpoint. She’d pleaded guilty to robbery and got five years probation.

Despite Cherry’s June 2008 arrest for larceny and extortion — along with two other busts — Cherry was released into her mother’s custody without bail; this after she was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, burglary, arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief for burning alive her friend’s kitten.

Cherry’s community, outraged by her latest gruesome act and her dismissive attitude towards the crime, is asking that the 17-year-old be charged as an adult. An online petition has been set up requesting a modification of the charges, with petition signatures and comments being forwarded to the judge by month’s end. Though the site’s initial goal was 2,500 signatures, more than 13,000 incensed citizens already have signed — a vast majority also taking time to comment on Cherry’s barbaric crime. Sign the Petition Here.

Fast forward to Sioux City, Iowa

Meet Bobby Loggins: Prefers Killing Own Dog vs. Someone else’s Pet (also prefers house guests who will lie — albeit conflicting stories — about dog’s death)

Bobby Loggins, 35 and intoxicated, was upset. His young American bulldog, whom he obviously hadn’t taken the time to fully train, had just urinated on the carpet during Bobby’s house party at 1611 23rd Street in Sioux City. Instead of leading the dog outside as any responsible pet owner would do, Loggins punched his own loyal dog in the face approximately 30 times — in front of several witnesses, no less. Police reports confirmed the dog was bleeding from the facial area, and animal control officers said the dog died before help could arrive.

If that weren’t bad enough, Loggins, as well as one of his “guests,” lied about what happened.

Loggins told police he “accidentally” slammed the dog’s head in the door. And, according to Sioux City Police Sgt. Mike Post, an unnamed witness told police the dog had been hit by a car.

One witness, however, had a conscience; Post said 34-year-old Chad Peterson was one of the witnesses and reported the incident to police.

On the other hand, the man-without-a-conscience-dog-killing Loggins has been charged with animal torture and filing a false police report, both of which (do-I-really-really-really-have-to-use-this-word?) are misdemeanors. Loggins will likely be ordered to get some psychological counseling. Perhaps even do some community service. Meanwhile, a young unschooled dog met a horrendous death at the very hands of the man he trusted most.

Loggins was released from jail on bond about two hours after being taken into custody.

Misdemeanors? But what about That Map?

Are you asking yourself the same question I’ve asked myself a thousand times? “How can this animal torture/cruelty crime be a misdemeanor when the map clearly shows Iowa has statutes in place to make this crime a felony?”

The answer, my friend, is in the fine print. You’ll find it in Iowa Code 717B.3A under Animal Torture. What it means is that the Bobby Loggins of Iowa can relentlessly beat and kill a family pet with 30 hard punches to the face and still answer to no more than misdemeanor charges — until their second offense, that is, when that animal’s death matters and it becomes a Class D Felony.

It could be worse. In Alaska, one has three opportunities to torture or kill the family pet before being charged with a felony. Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota and North Dakota have no felony provisions at all.

Shame on those state legislators.

One need not be a dog lover or cat lover or animal lover of any kind to possess the simple knowledge that animals experience pain no differently than human beings. But does placing the value of a human life over that of an animal preclude legislators from understanding the parallels in violent behavior exhibited by those who would inflict such pain and/or death on either?

It isn’t enough to just ask questions; we must demand answers, action and accountability. Our lives — and the animals with whom we so lovingly share those lives — depend on it.

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Response to "Anonymous" comments on Three Names

On August 11, 2005, in Crime, by Jody Ewing

I’d been meaning to respond to the first Anonymous comment on my Three Names I’ll be Watching post (regarding the Fort Dodge, Iowa, youths who set opossums ablaze and videotaped the entire incident while laughing in the background), but now that a second Anonymous has responded to the first one, figured I’d better get busy so they know I “do” read my comments.

First, I’d like to thank both anonymous responders for their comments, and can see this is an issue important to many, with repercussions that ultimately have the ability to affect us all. For a brief recap:

Anonymous #1 said…

I’ve known David Bendickson since I was 11 years old. He’s been one of my best friends. He’s someone that a person could look up to and he’d be there for you. I admit what he did was stupid and immature… it’s not something you can really make excuses for. David grew up on a farm where animals are slaughtered all the time, it’s just a part of life, and that can really desensitize a person to that kind of thing.

All I know is that when David realized how big of a deal this made, he didn’t eat or sleep for three days. David would be the furthest person i could think of to a murderer, or a baby killer. I’m sorry you think this of him and the other two. I’m not trying to say that what they did wasn’t wrong, i’m just trying to let you see it from another point of view.

—————–

Evidently, Anonymous #2 “did” have another point of view. He said…

Hey anon,

Someone you could look up to? Wow. What your friend did was not stupid and immature. It was cruel and evil. There’s a big difference. Also, there’s a big difference between the way animals are slaughtered on a farm versus what he did. Farm animals are not slaughtered by dousing them in lighter fluid and setting them on fire — and then laughing and filming the whole thing. Oh, boo-hoo, David didn’t eat or sleep for three days?! Wow, those innocent animals won’t ever eat or sleep again! There are numerous ties between cruelty against animals and cruelty against people.

“…every time we hear of a young person abusing an animal, it is explained away by family and often authorities as a ‘youthful indiscrection’…What the authorities and parents of these young men fail to realize is that their behavior may signal that something is wrong with these men, which could very easily escalate into something much worse. The evidence is not just anecdotal; numerous studies, including the 1998 work of Randall Lockwood and Frank R. Ascione (“Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence,” Purdue University Press), have shown that children who engage in animal cruelty are more likely to commit more violent acts as adults. There is also a strong link between abuse of animals and domestic violence, with animal abusers much more likely to batter their wives or girlfriends as well…

Youthful violence toward animals is a very serious issue, and it needs to be taken seriously by not only animal advocates like myself, but by those who are concerned about violence in our society.” – Margo DeMello, Ph.D.

You should find someone else to look up to. He’s not worthy. BTW, lots of people never thought Ted Bundy would be a murderer either.

———————-

Although I have to admire Anon #1 for sticking up for his friend (all of us, at one time or another, can always use a steadfast friend when we do something “stupid and immature”), Anon #2 pointed out many things I’d had in my draft that made these youth’s actions cross a line between immature and evil.

Anon #2 hit the nail on the head, and the point I’d also wanted to make was that adult serial killers almost always have a childhood history of torturing animals. (See Katherine Ramsland’s excellent article on The Fledgling Psychopath at Court TV’s Crime Library.)

Violent acts toward animals have long been recognized as indicators of a violent psychopathology that does not confine itself to animals. Humanitarian Albert Schweitzer wrote, “Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives.” And, according to Robert K. Resler (who developed profiles of serial killers for the FBI), “Murderers…very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids.”

Anon #2 was also correct in that there are numerous studies out there by sociologists, lawmakers, and the courts that acts of cruelty to animals definitely deserve our attention. It’s often the first step in what becomes a very long road of violence throughout the rest of one’s life. The FBI also has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appears in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers (Daniel Goleman, “Child’s Love of Cruelty May Hint at the Future Killer,” The New York Times, Aug. 7, 1991).

Examples could fill a book, and though they’re extremely difficult to read, here are a mere five:

1) Brenda Spencer — who opened fire at a San Diego school killing two children and injuring nine others — had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often by setting their tails on fire. (The Animals’ Voice, Fall 1990.)

2) Albert DeSalvo — the “Boston Strangler” who killed 13 women — trapped dogs and cats in orange crates and shot arrows through the boxes in his youth. (International Association of Chiefs of Police.)

3) In 1987, three Missouri high school students were charged with the beating death of a classmate. They had histories of repeated acts of animal mutilation starting several years earlier. (International Association of Chiefs of Police.)

4) Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer had impaled dogs’ heads, frogs, and cats on sticks. (Daniel Goleman, “Child’s Love of Cruelty May Hint at the Future Killer,” The New York Times, Aug. 7, 1991.)

5) Earl Kenneth Shriner — who raped, stabbed, and mutilated a 7-year-old boy — had been widely known in his neighborhood as the man who put firecrackers in dogs’ rectums and strung up cats. (The Animals’ Voice, Fall 1990.)

Anthropologist Margaret Mead once noted, “One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.”

Research also shows that those abusing animals may be repeating lessons they’ve learned at home. Violence is often directed to those more vulnerable than the abuser. It’s a “pecking order” that’s been documented time and again.

Though this is long, I want to reiterate that I commend Anon writer #1 for standing beside his friend, even though he knew what his friend did was wrong. It is people like you who often are able to redirect the paths their friends follow; peer pressure is a powerful thing, and it sounds as if you have a lot to offer your friend. If you’re there for him, steering him in the right direction, perhaps there’s hope.

If children and youth who abuse and kill animals don’t have a support or intervention system — either through family, friends, their community or the law — the statistics, sadly enough, are stacked against them from the beginning.

Thanks to both of you for writing. And to Anonymous #1, I encourage you to visit some of the websites referenced herein, print them out, and discuss them with your friend. He’ll thank you in the long run, and you may just save a life (or two).

Jody

Meet Josper Sanon: Puppy Killer

On August 4, 2005, in Crime, Pets, by Jody Ewing

Why, why, why must I insist on reading these terribly upsetting stories about people torturing and killing innocent animals? Perhaps because I’m an animal lover? Or because I treat my own two dogs as if they were my own children? This recent one, however, really got to me.

Yesterday, Josper Sanon of Miramar, Florida, flung his teenage son’s two-month-old black Labrador puppy off a fifth-floor balcony simply because the puppy had an accident on the floor. An accident on the floor? And it was only two months old? How ignorant must one be to not know this is what puppies do until they’re properly trained?

The puppy died after being tossed from the 50-foot high balcony.

Charged with felony animal abuse, Sanon was released yesterday from the Broward County jail after posting bail. If convicted of the dog killing, he faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Excuse me? This isn’t just animal “abuse” — he killed an innocent puppy!

Please join me in e-mailing Miramar’s city manager Robert A. Payton and mayor Lori Cohen Moseley to ask they do everything possible to encourage prosecutors to punish Sanon to the fullest extent of the law. You’ll find Miramar’s other city officials listed here.

— Jody

Adding my objection to "Pate de Foie Gras"

On April 13, 2005, in Miscellany, by Jody Ewing

I’d read about this practice — force-feeding grain to waterfowl to unnaturally enlarge their liver — some time back, then ran across this article written by Ron Reagan. Thanks, Ron, for calling attention to a practice that is indeed cruel and unnecessary.
– Connected Coast to Coast with Ron Reagan and Monica Crowley – MSNBC.com

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