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  • Apr
  • 24

When Justice Is Not Served

Posted by at 5:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)
When Justice Is Not Served by Michelle Rivera

© 2010 Jupiterimages

About a year ago, my little corner of the world was rocked by the death of two house cats reportedly left to die by Allison Dinsmore, a special-education teacher. She moved out of her apartment to go live with her new boyfriend, and apparently, her cats were left behind. As a result, the cats went without food or water, and both died a terrible, inhumane death.

I was pleased that the media, the community, the prosecutor, the police, and the judge all took this very seriously and that criminal charges were filed against Dinsmore. As activists, we struggle to get the legal system to be as aggressive with crimes against animals as it is with other crimes. Smug in the knowledge that criminal charges had been filed, I rested easier, hoping that those cats did not die in vain.

After the police and the state attorney’s office reviewed the case, Dinsmore was charged with two counts of felony cruelty to animals. They had originally charged her with a misdemeanor, but after the veterinarian performed the necropsy and declared that these animals died a horrendous and painful death—and after receiving a flood of phone calls and e-mails (proof that your actions do count!)—the charges were upgraded to felony charges.

Attending the trial as the self-appointed voice for the victims, I watched as the prosecutor dutifully and diligently laid out his case against Dinsmore. I imagined these beautiful souls, being lonely and on their own for days, desperate for food and water, running to the door, their tails held high and straight whenever they heard a noise outside, thinking that their caretaker was finally coming back for them—only to get … nothing.

Her defense was a story about an old boyfriend who allegedly threatened her with bodily harm (although no old boyfriend was put into evidence). She said that she was afraid for her life and that that’s why she didn’t go back to care for her cats. (What, no phone? No friend? No relative?)

On the other side, the veterinarian testified that when the organs begin to shut down as a result of dehydration and starvation, it is a painful, drawn-out process.

But the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, deciding that Allison Dinsmore’s actions did not amount to felony cruelty to animals.

The verdict was disappointing. It shows that we still have a long way to go in educating many members of our society about the respect and care that animals deserve.

But here is what really got me. The defense attorney told the jury that animals do not have rights and that human safety comes before animal safety. It is my belief that this is a fundamental problem with how people view animals that  has a cascading effect on how cases like this end up being analyzed.  Animals should be treated equally. I try to educate as many people as I can with this PETA resource (You can also get a free copy if you email PETA and mention this Prime blog).

We can’t get discouraged. PETA is improving the odds that cases involving animals will be taken seriously and that where there is animal abuse, the perpetrators will be punished. PETA’s work with law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges is training those who can make a difference, and we can all help by speaking out. We cannot be tempted to give up the fight because then the cats will have lost again.

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  • Kelly says:

    This is the most horrible thing I have read in a long time. I litterally cried. I have cats of my own, I could never do such a disgusting thing in my life. This is horrific, and I can not believe she got off with this! The justice is horrible, how dare they let her off, she should be imprisoned for the rest of her life! Animals are just as equal as humans. I hope she feels ashamed, disgusted with herself. And one day hopefully the justice system will become right, hopefully very soon, and punish those the way they deserve.

  • Nola Ross says:

    boy this story tears me up. you can just see them running to the door when they heard something outside, thinking it was someone with food. they should do that to Allison. I have no compasion for people who do that. I hope she thinks about this every day. I hope it eats her up. I hope her conscience botheres her so much it destroys the happiness in her life for the rest of her life. and I hope thats a long time….

  • April says:

    This is ridiculous. What does this show other people, she should have been charged to the maximum extent! There are shelters, outreach programs, foster families, etc that would have gladly taken this little cats in without hesitation!

  • Susan says:

    God gave us the job of taking care of ALL living things. Showing love and compassion. What Allison Dinsmore did, there is no excuse. I agree; what no phone? no friends? no family? to help make some other arrangements for her “pets”, so that they are safe and cared for. With that, I am assuming that she was chained inside her boyfriends apartment 24/7, right? Yeah, right! If she could not step up to the plate and admit what she did was wrong and face the music, (which was so obvious and the court let slide by), then she deserved extra jail time. But unfortunitely that wasn’t the case at all, was it?. Probably, just a slap on the hand. “Now, don’t you do that again, OK? Well…we’ll just wait until she has kids and again doesn’t feel like taking on responsibility. All living things should have rights. Let’s see….A murdered who brutally kills without a second thought, has rights but a voiceless, loyal pet who loves unconditionally, has none. We have lost ourselves. It’s been confirmed! The term we call ourselves is “human” which once again, has just been sucked up in the word ” in-human-e”. I love my country America, but I fear that the system of law has begun to believe that if the lawsuit is worth the all mighty buck, then they’ll go the distance to fight the case and seek out “so-called” justice and what is “supposibly” right, whether it is actually in fact, right or not. But when justice, “truly” justice needs to being sought after, and it involves the voiceless, the poor, the defenseless, the so-to-speak unimportant, what defender steps up. What judge and jury feels like listening. Damn few. Judges and lawyers have big jobs on their shoulders, granted. But, all too many times, the little so-called-meanal trials are rushed through and not listened to throughly. Either not bothering to get all facts or just not caring enough to listen to all the facts. What, because they’re not meaty or interesting enough? When ALL of us stand before GOD, the only thing we have with us is our character. Without it, we’ve got nothing to defend ourselves with. All of us need to do what is “truly” right and “truly” good. This may be a insigficant incident to you, but in GOD’s eyes, it is just as important as the next.

  • tina gardner says:

    i have 3 cats (2 homeless and other from a shelter) and i love them so much….it wouldnt even enter my mind to leave them alone…i would take care of them first, even over my own safety….u know what they say about karma…..its a *^&%@…: (

  • Betty Kang says:

    Thank you Michelle, for writing this note, even though it is a sad one. I am pleased that this went to trial, and in that sense I like to think that she perhaps understood that there will be some repercussions – publicity and inconvenience for her at the very least. And I am hoping that her school and the childrens’ parents have some thoughts as well about one of their teachers displaying such a cavalier attitude toward the innocent and vulnerable lives that were entrusted to her care.

  • Pamela says:

    How terrible. Our society is sick and anyone who bought her “abused” woman story as an excuse to leave her babies to die is not capable of rational thought.

  • Tucker says:

    SHE KNEW EXACTLY WHAT SHE WAS DOING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    AND CONTINUE TO DO SO, UNTIL LAWS ARE CHANGED AND FOR ANIMALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Pamela Lavine says:

    Hurt people hurt people and abused people abuse people…and animals
    Thumbs down for the lack of responsibility and accountability to take care of those innocent creatures who rely on us; and for the system who lets them off free.

  • Alva says:

    I just felt a need to comment after reading this sad & horrible story. I am disappointed that jury found this lady not guilty. What she did was the lowest of the lowest! I’m cat owner myself and whenever I go away, I pay someone to feed my cat & clean her litter box. My cat depends on me and has no one else in the world to look after her. I can’t imagine going away and leaving her uncared for.

  • Charly-ann Marlor says:

    You are completley right, animals deserve a right just like humans

  • TA says:

    That is a sad story. Perhaps she would have been found guilty if it had been charged as a misdemeanor? Maybe it didn’t do justice any favors to have her charged with a felony.
    I disagree, though, that animals should be treated equally with humans. If a house was on fire and the firefighter had to either save a cat or a toddler, I would be pretty angry if they got the cat.

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