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Burned Puppy Stirs Fight Against Animal Cruelty Laws

11:13 PM, Mar 4, 2010   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Some animal supporters say a Greensboro man's sentence wasn't harsh enough for burning a dog.

Roberta Wall helped nurse the dog, Susie, back to health. She and others developed a form letter to send to legislators. They're passing it out to anyone who'll take it.

"What I want to see are tougher, stiffer penalties for people that abuse animals in North Carolina," she said.

A judge sentenced LaShawn Whitehead to six to eight months in prison for setting a puppy on fire at leaving her at a Greensboro park. He also received four to five months of a suspended sentence for the same crime.

State senator Don Vaughan says that's not enough. "We ought to give the judges and the courts and the district attorney's office the ability to have stiffer penalties so this won't happen again," he said. "I just bet you there's many other cases of this."

There are.

In Guilford County, animal control officers investigated more than 1200 animal mistreatment cases last year. In 2010 they handled 224.

Whitehead pleaded guilty to burning personal property and cruelty to animals Monday. In court documents, he says he "lost control" after seeing his girlfriend's puppy lick his infant son.

He admits he then took the puppy outside and used lighter fluid to set it on fire last August. He said it ran away as he tried to put out the fire.

The dog, Susie, is now seven months old and has a new home with Donna Lawrence.

"I was shocked," Lawrence said of the sentencing, who watched the hearing with about two dozen other Susie supporters. Lawrence insists the punishment is not enough.

The supporters drafted a letter that calls for legislators to change the current punishment for animal abusers.

WEB EXTRA: Read the drafted letter

The letter references how violence toward animals can be a first sign of violence toward humans.

The group is asking people who support their cause to fill out the drafted letter and send it to their local legislator.

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-- Triad Man Sentenced For Burning Puppy

-- Susie And Her Owner Share Message Of Forgiveness

-- Burned Puppy Has A New Home And New Purpose

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