Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Charleston Animal Society is pleased to announce that Governor Nikki Haley signed into law legislation that strengthens South Carolina’s laws relating to domestic abuse and all aspects of animal cruelty.
The bills that served as the basis for the new law were H. 3361, which was sponsored by Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg and S. 193, introduced by Sen. Daniel B. “Danny” Verdin, III of Laurens. Under the new law, courts involved in domestic abuse cases are given the power to protect animals from harm or harassment at the hands of a defendant in a domestic violence case. Additionally, courts can provide for temporary possession of a pet and allow assistance from law enforcement officers in removing the pet from a home.
Among the highlights of the law are:
– Decision of punishment in cruelty cases are left up to a judge, while giving that judge greater authority to maximize the fine or time in prison.
– Streamlines the penalty process for repeat offenders, with repeat offenders facing more serious as penalties as of the second offense. Discretion of sentencing remains with the judge.
– Increases maximum penalties: For first-time offenders from 60 days in jail and a $500 fine to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. For second-time offenders from 90 days in jail and an $800 fine to two years in jail and a $2,000 fine. These would also serve as the benchmarks for multiple offenders.
“This is great news for animal lovers or anyone who cares about justice,” says Joe Elmore, chief executive officer for Charleston Animal Society. “The South Carolina Animal Legislative Coalition worked hard to see measured anti-cruelty legislation signed into law. On behalf of Charleston Animal Society and our constituency, I would like to thank Governor Haley, Representative Cobb-Hunter, Senator Verdin and their fellow members in the House and Senate for supporting this important law.”