May 12, 2020
Last November, citizens of Pennsylvania were outraged when a video surfaced showing two teenagers torturing a helpless deer. A public investigation immediately began to identify the two perpetrators in the video, and soon, they were identified as 18-year-old Alex Smith of Brookville, Pennsylvania, and an unnamed 17-year-old boy.
The graphic and disturbing footage–which the teens filmed themselves–demonstrated an utter lack of compassion for the suffering and defenseless animal while they kicked, jeered at, and even attempted to tear the antlers off of him. Hunters and animal welfare activists alike were disgusted by their reprehensible behavior. While the 17-year-old is being tried in juvenile court, Smith was charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty as well as several other charges violating PA Game Commission regulations, in January of this year. If convicted, Smith–who is the step-son of the local police chief–would have faced up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Smith’s felony charges were recently reduced to misdemeanor animal cruelty charges after a negotiated plea deal. He will serve two years probation, be required to complete 200 hours of community service, and he is banned from obtaining a hunting license for fifteen years. He will owe less than $2,500 in fines. This case serves as an important example that while more and more states are passing laws with harsher penalties for animal abuse, there is still much work to be done in the enforcement of these harsher penalties in courts of law.
Take Action: The change begins with educating our friends, families, and children that all animals are sentient creatures who can experience emotions and pain, and that all animals are deserving of kindness and respect, whether they are living in our homes, in our communities, or in the wild. Click here to order or download our free brochure on preventing animal cruelty.