and into the fire…
Two weeks ago we reported on a terrible situation in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. The local mayor, having few financial (and even fewer intellectual) resources, decided that setting dogs from the city shelter “free” in a nearby National Forest was a good way to get rid of them manage the problem.
We wrote then – and still believe – that this was a criminal act. Apparently Circuit Court Judge David Henry agrees. According to KARK News Mayor James Valley will be charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty.
According to Arkansas Code 5-62-101, “a person commits the offense of cruelty to animals if, except as authorized by law, he or she knowingly abandons any animal; subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment; subjects any animal in his or her custody to cruel neglect; or kills or injures any animal belonging to another without legal privilege or consent of the owner.” Based on this information, it seems pretty straightforward that the mayor’s actions were, well – actionable.
As for the mayor, despite an earlier display of bravado, he’s decided to get out of the animal abuse control business for now. According to NWAnews.com:
After being informed of the law, Valley said, his plan is now to leave the stray dogs to fend for themselves in the city until he figures out another plan.
Now he’s throwing his hands up and getting out of the animal control business altogether, at least for now. “For now we’re not going to pick them up until we can figure somewhere to keep them. Our animal control officer, we’ll find some other stuff for him to do. He can work on potholes and clean alleys and ditches,” Valley said Thursday.
Despite finally making one sane decision in this matter (to stop picking stray dogs up until the city has an appropriate place to shelter them), the mayor is hardly contrite. According to WTOP news he is quoted as saying “I look forward to my day in court.”
So do we.
WTOP also reports that:
Valley also could face federal charges because it is against the law to leave animals, livestock or abandoned personal property on public land. The U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock is examining the case.
Sounds like another slam dunk. The misdemeanor charges will likely involve little more than a slap on the wrist but federal charges could be a much more significant problem for the mayor.
At least we can hope….