Animal Legal Defense Fund Urges Vigorous Prosecution in Cow Cruelty CaseNovember 20th, 2006
National Animal Law Organization Offers Support in Case of Hialeah Man Charged with Ramming Cows with His Van
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has sent a letter to Broward County Prosecutor Vanessa Tobares, offering their free legal assistance in the case of Roberto Cruz, the Hialeah cattle farmer facing felony cruelty charges for hitting several of his cows with his van earlier this year. One cow, who was hit repeatedly, according to a witness, was seriously injured and was taken to the Wildlife Care Center; she later had to be euthanized. The cow showed signs of previous abuse and lack of veterinary care when she was taken to the Wildlife Care Center after the incident. News reports of the incident quoted an eyewitness as stating, “One cow, the brown cow, that he hit was limping. He backed off, she got up and then he hit her again.” ALDF is also asking that neglect charges be added to the felony cruelty charge, which would allow the prosecutor to ask the court for random unannounced checks of the defendant’s other animals in the future. Cruz’s trial date has been scheduled for January 22, 2007 at the Broward County Courthouse.
“A minimal sentence in this case would send a terrible message that the downright vicious acts of cruelty Cruz is charged with, not to mention the egregious neglect noted by eyewitnesses, deserves nothing more than a slap on the wrist,” says ALDF Senior Attorney Dana Campbell, herself a former prosecutor. “If such cruelty to animals, even cows, weren’t bad enough, the link between violence toward animals and violence toward humans is well documented. To break this cycle, intervention and treatment, including stiff sentencing, is critical. We urge Prosecutor Tobares to take seriously this rapidly growing, often hidden epidemic—and we’re eager to offer ALDF’s expertise to help bring criminal animal abusers to justice.”
ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and defending the interests of animals through the legal system.
A copy of ALDF’s letter to Prosecutor Tobares follows:
November 8, 2006
Broward States Attorney’s Office
Broward County Courthouse
201 SE 6th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
RE: Roberto Cruz, charged with one count of felony animal cruelty
PLEASE ADD THIS LETTER TO THE FILE ON THE CASE
Dear Ms. Tobares:
I represent the Criminal Justice Program of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), a national, nonprofit organization of attorneys who specialize in the protection of animals and work to ensure the enforcement of existing animal protection laws. We have a nationwide membership of over 125,000 supporting members with over 6,000 members in Florida.
ALDF has learned about Roberto Cruz, who is currently facing felony animal cruelty charges for hitting several of his cows with his van. One cow, who was hit repeatedly, according to a witness, was seriously injured and was taken to the Wildlife Care Center; she later had to be euthanized. The cow also showed signs of previous abuse and lack of veterinary care, according to news accounts. On behalf of our members, I strongly urge you to also file animal neglect charges against Cruz which would facilitate asking for periodic random unannounced checks during probation, in an attempt to ensure that his other animals receive proper care. We also suggest you ask the Court for: maximum jail time, probation to include mandatory psychiatric evaluations and treatment at his own expense; a meaningful fine; restitution to the Wildlife Care Center and any veterinarians who treated the cow; and unannounced visits to Cruz’s properties to check on the welfare of other animals.
The link between violence toward animals and violence toward humans is well documented. According to a joint study by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA, people who abuse animals are five times more likely than their non-abusing neighbors to commit violent crimes against humans. Research shows that if animal abusers are not adequately penalized for their crimes, it is likely that they will continue to commit abusive crimes in the future. To break this cycle, intervention and treatment, including stiff sentencing, is critical.
We understand that prosecutors’ offices have limited resources and competing priorities, so we hope that you will take advantage of ALDF’s free legal assistance for this or any animal abuse or neglect case you may be handling. We can research legal issues, locate veterinarians and other expert witnesses, provide access to our library of pleadings from cruelty prosecutions in other jurisdictions, and submit amicus curiae briefs in support of the prosecution’s case.
We wish to extend this offer to you in the above animal cruelty prosecution and any other cruelty case you may be working on. Enclosed you will find a brochure describing the free legal services ALDF can provide. To discuss how we can assist you, please contact me at (503) 231-1602 ext. 304 or email@example.com. Thank you for taking animal cruelty seriously.
Dana M. Campbell
Managing Senior Attorney (and former prosecutor)