Does Every Animal Count? Not in California

Posted by Scott Heiser, Director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program on April 24, 2015

120 Day Sentence Handed Down for Killing Over 900 Chickens with a Golf Club

chickens-cc-woodleywonderworks-article-image-500px

Last fall, ALDF offered a $5,000 reward in a shocking case of animal cruelty: in California’s Central Valley, four killers broke into a Foster Farms facility through a hole in the fence and used a golf club and other weapons to massacre more than 900 chickens. The bloodbath occurred early in the morning hours of September 20 in Caruthers, just south of Fresno. However, law enforcement solved this case without resort to the reward offer. The fruits of the investigation ripened on April 15, when Gabriel Quintero, who was 18 years old at the time of the crime, was sentenced to 120 days in jail after pleading no contest to one count of felony animal cruelty and one count of second-degree burglary. The other three offenders (all males under the age of 18), face similar charges in juvenile court, where the proceedings are confidential and not subject to public scrutiny.

The depths of depravity required to beat 925 chickens to death with multiple blows from blunt instruments is difficult to comprehend—think about how long it would take to kill that many birds, even with four assailants swinging away madly. Despite the fact that these chickens were slated for later slaughter, animal cruelty in California is a serious criminal offense, and we applaud the Fresno County District Attorney for filing this case. The good work of the DA’s office notwithstanding, some might be tempted to ask:  If 920 birds were killed, why was there only one charge of animal cruelty?

Under existing law, California Penal Code § 597(a), any person convicted of maliciously and intentionally maiming or killing an animal can be imprisoned for up to three years in county jail and/or fined $20,000 for felony animal cruelty. Further, California Penal Code § 597(f) expressly states that each animal harmed qualifies as separate offense. However, this sound public policy of recognizing each individual animal as a separately actionable crime only applies to endangered animals and omits both pets and animals used in food production, like chickens.

This flaw in § 597(f) is, in large part, why Quintero faced only one count of animal cruelty (there are other reasons as well, related to the application of California Penal Code § 654 and the “same act or omission” rule). The limited scope of § 597(f) accentuates our legal system’s failure to count each abused animal as a separately actionable victim. We at ALDF believe that every animal counts.

States like Florida and Oregon have already seen the light. With your help, we can change the law in California and other states with a similar rule. Please join the Animal Legal Defense Fund in demanding stronger sentences for animal cruelty crimes by signing our “Every Animal Counts” petition. By doing so, you’ll help ensure prosecutors have the tools they need to secure more meaningful sentences.

Take Action Button


26 thoughts on “Does Every Animal Count? Not in California

  1. Joyce jacobson says:

    Her action deserves a just punishmnet

  2. Deirdre Healy says:

    The perpetrator of this heinous animal abuse should be punished to the full extent of the law.

  3. Sasha Eremenko says:

    Awful people need to be punished

  4. Sasha Eremenko says:

    Awful

  5. Heather Collins-Dudas says:

    STOP THE PSYCHOTIC ABUSE OF INNOCENT ANIMALS!

  6. Laws for animal abusers need a massive change!!

  7. Please know that every animal counts. They depend on us and deserve as much as any human. We need to get tough with people who abuse or neglect them.

  8. Susan Sontag says:

    Every act of violence, every life harmed or lost counts.

  9. Tamar Diana Wilson says:

    Animal cruelty must be recognized as a crime all over the world.

  10. Christina Wall says:

    Consequences and punishment needs to be given to animal cruelty.

  11. Gay Pawlak says:

    All animals count especially abusing them.

  12. Bill Foreman says:

    I don’t read Section 654 as limiting the number of counts at all. It only limits the number of punishments to one punishment per count, where the underlying crime has multiple available punishments. And, while Section 597 permits a different count for “each act of malicious and
    intentional maiming, mutilating, or torturing” of endangered and protected animals, it doesn’t limit the number of counts for other animals. What it appears to do is allow for multiple counts for even the same animal (i.e., each act of intentional maiming, etc.). Besides all of that, the punishment even for one count under Section 1170(h) can be up to 3 years in jail and a $20,000 fine. All of this suggests that the prosecutor was soft, not the statutes.

  13. Robin Weiss says:

    Every animal counts. 900 animals, 900 criminal charges.

  14. Teresa royer says:

    animals life matter!!! Stop the abuse mistreatment they are voiceless defenseless that have no one and we as humans need to stand and be their voice this is a crime and should be treated as such. CERO TOLERANCE!

  15. Barry Warren says:

    It will stop when weak minded punks who abuse animals are charged as brutally as they handle the animals they abuse

  16. Sylvie Bellemare says:

    Les oiseaux sont les messagers de Dieu.

  17. Frances says:

    Young men who chose to hit live animals, it must have been hours, are mentally wrong and need confined. Think of them choosing to kill an animal over 200 times each. Dangerous, if they can dissociate to kill. Watch out humans as well!

  18. celine dussault says:

    Every single life should matter and count.
    Under existing law, California Penal Code § 597(a), any person convicted of maliciously and intentionally maiming or killing an animal can be imprisoned for up to three years in county jail and/or fined $20,000 for felony animal cruelty. Further, California Penal Code § 597(f) expressly states that each animal harmed qualifies as separate offense. However, this sound public policy of recognizing each individual animal as a separately actionable crime only applies to endangered animals – this need to be changed and that law should include both pets and animals used in food production, like chickens- They are all living BEINGS

  19. Jacky Rozema says:

    This Is So wrong stop this, let them live in peace
    And Love and harmony …

  20. maria dale says:

    all animals are precious

  21. theresa singleton brown says:

    They are God’s creatures as well and deserve to treated as if. I don’t believe any animal whether it be a bird, dog, elephant etc.etc. should be abused tortured or neglected and deserves to be protected as such. People who abuse or harm them should be prosecuted for the crime tHey commit. Whoever it is needs to pay for what they have done. If people are made to be responsible for their actions instead of a little pat on the wrist then maybe just maybe one day we can teach the world that ALL animals are equal we all live here and eat drink love feel.pain and are God’s creatures!!!!

  22. Gigi Garcia says:

    Animal cruelty is a crime

  23. sharon chang says:

    animals don’t really seem to matter in Louisiana either!no big surprise there!

  24. Denise and Stephen LoRusso says:

    EVERY ANIMAL COUNTS NOW AND FOREVER . WE MOURN FOR ANY ANIMAL’S LOSS, AND NOW 5 MILLION DUE TO BIRD FLU – WE ARE RESPONSIBLE

  25. Denise and Stephen LoRusso says:

    LOUISIANA IS NOTORIOUS FOR CRUELTY AND NEGLECT TO ANIMALS – TONY THE TIGER AND OTHER ANIMALS SUFFER AS A RESULT OF BOBBY JINDAL AND HIS CONGRESS OF HATERS. THEY SKIRT THE LAW

  26. sharon chang says:

    the situation of poor Tony the Truckstop Tiger makes me ashamed to be from Louisiana!

Be a Partner in Protection!

Donate monthly to help animals.

or make a one-time gift »

ALDF's Online Store

Help fund our lifesaving work!

shop

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.


Join Us

Follow ALDF on these networks:

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.