Ontario cat will lose eye after being shot 17 times; time for stronger punishment

Joe the cat was found with 17 pellets lodged in his head.His name is Joe, he lost the use of an eye after being shot in the head 17 times and the obvious signs of his torture have the enraged public calling for a lynching. But despite the horrific case of animal cruelty, only so much can be done to avenge the suffering cat found this week in Sarnia, Ont.

The Sarnia and District Humane Society says that the young, un-neutered cat was found by a resident on Feb. 2, severely dehydrated, malnourished and suffering from 17 pellet shots to the head.

The cat has been treated for its injuries and will have a surgery to remove the pellets from his head once he has regained strength. Joe will lose an eye due to irreparable damage.

The humane society has launched a search for the person or persons responsible for the damage done to little Joe, and the public has emphatically joined the search. On Wednesday, Sarnia police and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals launched their own investigation.

[ Related: Ottawa Humane Society seeing increase in animal abuse ]

Joe's story, while extreme, is sadly not unique. On Wednesday, a London, Ont., woman was charged with animal cruelty after allegedly leaving her dog and two cats alone in an apartment for weeks.

In Ottawa, a Great Dane was recovered near death, having been starved to less than half its ideal weight of 120 lbs., after being sold online earlier this week.

Animal cruelty is gross, disturbing, and research suggests it can too often be a precursor to human violence. It should be treated seriously. Those responsible should be hunted, caught and punished to the full extent of the law.

A charge of cruelty to animals can result in a prison sentence of up to five years, but many cases end up as summary convictions, with a maximum of 18 months of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

A call for the government of Canada to consider all offenses against animals indictable was launched last year after an Ottawa dog named Breezy was beaten with a shovel and thrown in a dumpster.

[ More Brew: Too shy to go to class with women? That’s not a legit human rights complaint ]

Anecdotally, it seems cases of animal cruelty are on the incline. A Sarnia Humane Society representative says they saw 38 cases last month, compared to about 20 in January 2013. The Ottawa agency says they saw an 18 per cent increase between 2012 and 2013.

Whether this is an indication of more violence being incurred, or there is simply more being reported, is unclear. But it needs to end now.

British Columbia has what could be Canada’s strictest animal cruelty laws on the books. Fines can reach as high as $75,000 and jail time can reach as high as two years.

Let’s make that a national standard. And then make sure the people responsible are held responsible.

( Photo courtesy the Sarnia and District Humane Society)

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