"All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action."
--James Russell Lowell
Some people might disagree that sentencing a remorseless puppy miller to nearly the fullest extent of the law is a lovely action. However, we believe that Judge Sirois of Quebec has indeed made a portentous move. His sentence of the puppy miller Marc-Andre LaPorte to the fullest fine and nearly the fullest number of community service hours he can, as well as barring LaPorte from animal ownership for three years--with monitoring to follow so that he can not begin to breed dogs again--is music to our ears. Most importantly, Judge Sirois refused to return any of the 97 dogs who were taken from the home where they had lived in squalid conditions, many of them with horrifying injuries, missing ears, broken jaws, and horrid wounds. The home in which the dogs were kept was condemned and bulldozed, so unhealthy was it. (For a full description of the conditions and photos from the SPCA that cared for the dogs, click here. This is graphic, and difficult to view. We cannot bring ourselves to post the photos here.)
Too often, it seems that truly "the law is a ass," but today we offer our grateful praise to Judge Sirois of Quebec for his willingness to fully punish a man who really needs punishment. This sentence sets the precedent for other judges to hand down sentences that likewise recognize and condemn animal abusers for their cruelty and inhumanity.
Coming on the heels of the sad news from Pennsylvania last month that Judge Louis Farina had blithely ignored the prosecutor's (and many hundred letter writers') recommendation and breezily ordered French bulldog Sally Jane to be returned to her owner*, the oft-convicted animal abuser and puppy miller Elvin High, this exemplary sentence gives hope to North American animal welfare and shelter workers, to pet owners and prosecutors. Judge Sirois' sentence gives hope that our foot-dragging legislators and the judges who wink and smile at animal abuse, who dismiss the concerns of decent citizens with sneering jibes at those "crazy dog people", can be brought to see that a person who will cause any animal such suffering should be punished for these malicious, inhuman, criminal acts.
This sentence gives us hope that even those legislators and judges whose campaign coffers ring with the deposits of bloody money from agricultural and corporate interests which benefit from the continued, deliberate underfunding of those agencies charged with upholding the measly standards required by the state, yes, even politicians,are capable of doing the right thing. That they are capable of writing improved standards of care, and rewriting the laws so those people found guilty of failing to provide a truly decent standard of care can receive a punishment that fits the crime.
We hope that it will not be very long before the laws against animal cruelty will permit judges to consign these criminals to a considerable period of their lives in prison, where they will receive just a taste of the loss of freedom, the danger inherent in living in tight quarters with desperate fellows, and the loss of dignity they visited on their own charges, who, unlike themselves, were imprisoned without guilt or wrongdoing.
We find Judge Sirois' sentencing to be a lovely act and a weighty and commendable one. You can write to him and thank him, and we hope you will.
c/o Elizabeth Pierce
119 16th Street
Thank you, Judge Sirois! And many thanks to FBRN grad Uno's adoptive mom for sharing the story with us!
The raffish Bruno (formerly Uno) in a quiet moment.
The Frog Princess, who believes it's as important to praise good deeds as it is to condemn evil ones.
*Happily, the foster family who cared for Sally Jane was able to raise funds to buy her, at an exorbitant, prohibitive cost, from puppy miller and convicted criminal, Elvin High. She remains a beloved pet, and is in no danger of returning to his so-called care.