There are two more disturbing cases highlighting the abuse of animals and the limited sanctions available in such cases. In Anchorage, three men were arrested after they allegedly killed a yearling moose after tormenting it in a public park area. In Australia, two men were arrested for trying to burn a small protected animal alive for fun. In both cases, there is a considerable gap between the horrific actions and the penalties under the law.
Anchorage police arrested Johnathan Candelario, 25, James Galloway, 28, and Nick Johnston, 33, on felony animal-cruelty charges in connection with the case. Police are familiar with the men. Candelario has prior convictions for fourth-degree assault, unauthorized entry and criminally negligent burning. Johnston has at least eight misdemeanor assault convictions as well as a lengthy record of arrests for domestic-violence offenses. Galloway has the lightest record with just traffic charges.
Witnesses say they saw the three men jumping on the moose, kicking it and stabbing it with a large knife. The men were reportedly apprehended covered in blood and knives were later found. They were charged with charges of animal cruelty, wanton waste of big game and tampering with evidence.
The first charge could carry the longest sentence for cruelty as opposed to “wanton waste of big game.” However, most such crimes are treated as a Class A misdemeanor subject to a $5,000 fine and 1 year in jail. Alaska Stat. §12.55.015 It is only with a third offense of animal cruelty within 10 years that the offense becomes a Class C felony punishable basically by up to 5 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Alaska Stat. §§12.55.125,12.55.035 It can also become a Class C felony if the abuser has 2 prior convictions within 10 years for involvement with dog fighting. Alaska Stat. §11.61.145(a)(1),(2). The reports do not mention animal cruelty charges in the past so it is possible that these men could face a year or less in jail.
In the meantime in Australia, Thibaud Jean Leon Valette, 24, and his cousin Jean Mickael Batrikian, 18, were found guilty of animal cruelty for burning a quokka with a homemade flamethrower fuelled by a deodorant can. A quokka is a small macropod about the size of a domestic cat. It is a harmless herbivore. For this truly heinous act, they were ordered by a court to each pay $4000 or spend a week in jail as punishment. That’s it.
The two however are staying in jail despite the fact that they have thousands in cash earned as cleaners on Rottnest Island with $12,000 between them.
Coverage claims that the Valette, a budding journalist and is the son of a police officer. It was Batrikian who operated the deodorant-can flamethrower. However, Valette sarcastically described his experience in Australia following the quokka incident as “awesome.”
The quokka survived the ordeal but was spotted with a half burnt body.
The Alaskan case will likely generate more significant penalties but the treatment in Australia shows how the torturing of animals is still treated as relatively minor offenses in most places in the world. Even in Alaska, the code appears to require multiple offenses to kick up to a Class C felony. That is still an improvement from a few years ago when the state was one of those with no felony provision for animal cruelty.