Charleston Animal Society Urges Animal Advocates to Come to a
“Candlelight Protest Against Animal Cruelty Injustice” Saturday at 6pm at Charleston Animal Society
The criminal case involving the deaths of nine dogs that were left in a Mt. Pleasant vehicle in August 2014, ended in a plea deal with Dr. Allen Bickerstaff being fined $500. He initially faced nine felony counts of “ill treatment of animals.” Each felony count was punishable by up to five years in prison and carries a minimum sentence of 180 days.
“The thought that our 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office placed a price tag of just $56 on each of the animals who died while locked in that SUV in the searing Charleston heat two summers ago is almost too much for us to bear,” said Charleston Animal Society Chief Executive Officer Joe Elmore, “This was a slam-dunk case of animal cruelty.”
“It continues to be our belief that those dogs perished because they were left in that car in the summer heat. Dr. Bickerstaff left the animals in the locked car for approximately three hours. Why the Solicitor’s office cut a deal instead of letting a jury decide justice in this felony case will haunt every animal lover in our community,” Elmore said, “Does the Solicitor’s office really believe there wasn’t evidence to prove this? Did each of these nine dogs just die by coincidence in a hot car on the same day at the same time?”
Charleston Animal Society is inviting people to join us for a “Candlelight Vigil to Protest Animal Cruelty Injustice” on Saturday at 6pm at the Charleston Animal Society Animal Care Campus at 2455 Remount Road. Those gathered will also remember each of the dogs who died: Lucinda, Money, Drayton, Madeline, Shelby, Katie, Butler, Freddie and Willis.
“These 9 dogs suffered an excruciating death that was completely preventable,” said Charleston Animal Society Director of Anti-Cruelty Aldwin Roman, “Justice was not served for these animals. How many more will have to suffer or die before justice is served.”
“Animals do not have a voice. We are their voice,” said Elmore, “and when an injustice of this magnitude occurs, we must step forward as a community and send a message to our justice system that they must do better by animals. We will not stand for this any longer.”
Please note that under the South Carolina Felony Statute (quoted below), intent is not a necessary component in obtaining a conviction:
2012 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 47 – Animals, Livestock and Poultry
Chapter 1 – CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
Section 47-1-40 – Ill-treatment of animals generally.
Universal Citation: SC Code § 47-1-40 (2012)
(A) Whoever knowingly or intentionally overloads, overdrives, overworks, ill-treats any animal, deprives any animal of necessary sustenance or shelter, inflicts unnecessary pain or suffering upon any animal, or by omission or commission knowingly or intentionally causes these things to be done, for every offense is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by imprisonment not exceeding sixty days or by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, or both, for a first offense; by imprisonment not exceeding ninety days or by a fine not exceeding eight hundred dollars, or both, for a second offense; or by imprisonment not exceeding two years or by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, or both, for a third or subsequent offense. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a first offense under this subsection shall be tried in magistrate’s or municipal court.
(B) Whoever tortures, torments, needlessly mutilates, cruelly kills, or inflicts excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering upon any animal or by omission or commission causes the acts to be done for any of the offenses is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be punished by imprisonment of not less than one hundred eighty days and not to exceed five years and by a fine of five thousand dollars.
(C) This section does not apply to fowl, accepted animal husbandry practices of farm operations and the training of animals, the practice of veterinary medicine, agricultural practices, forestry and silvacultural practices, wildlife management practices, or activity authorized by Title 50, including an activity authorized by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources or an exercise designed for training dogs for hunting, if repeated contact with a dog or dogs and another animal does not occur during this training exercise.
HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 6-4; 1952 Code Section 6-4; 1942 Code Section 1594; 1932 Code Section 1594; Cr. C. ’22 Section 559; Cr. C. ’12 Section 910; Cr. C. ’02 Section 625; G. S. 1703; R. S. 507; 1881 (17) 573; 1883 (18) 388; 1988 Act No. 401, Section 1, eff March 21, 1988; 1992 Act No. 430, Section 1, eff June 2, 1992; 1998 Act No. 367, Section 2, eff May 27, 1998; 2000 Act No. 294, Section 1, eff May 26, 2000; 2008 Act No. 259, Section 2, eff upon approval (became law without the Governor’s signature on June 5, 2008).
People are reminded that traveling with your pets involves using common sense practices:
· Never Leave Your Pet in a Car: It only takes seconds in a car for an animal’s internal temperature to start rising to dangerous levels that can lead to heat stroke and death.
Watch for Heat Distress. Signs of overheating in pets include increased heart rate, excessive drooling and panting, difficulty breathing, weakness, elevated body temperature (over 104 degrees), and even seizures. Elderly, overweight, and pets with heart or lung diseases are especially at risk for heatstroke. Pets with short muzzles like pugs, bulldogs and Persian cats become overheated because they cannot effectively pant and should be kept in air conditioning to stay cool.
· Keep Your Animal Properly Hydrated: Always have fresh water available for your pets.
Media interviews are available upon request.