Animal Legal Defense Fund Urges Vigorous Prosecution in Cow Cruelty Case

Posted on November 20, 2006

National Animal Law Organization Offers Support in Case of Hialeah Man Charged with Ramming Cows with His Van

CowFort
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

Vanessa Tobares

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 dcampbell@aldf.org. 
Thank you for taking animal cruelty seriously.

Sincerely,

Dana M. Campbell

Managing Senior Attorney (and former prosecutor)