Recently, a “Mr. Doe”, a 37 year old father of 3 and native Israeli was sent to jail for 15 months for committing an act of cruelty towards an animal while under the influence of alcohol. This is one of the longest sentences and most dramatic punishments given for this kind of offense in Israel; but, when analyzing the court decision we see that this was much more than just an animal cruelty case.
According to the court documents, Mr. Doe came to his sister’s apartment, took a 3 week old puppy that belongs to his sister, raised the dog above her head and smashed the puppy into the wall resulting in its death. He then left the apartment and buried the puppy. Upon returning to his sister’s apartment, he then attacked the puppy’s mother who his sister had on the end of the leash. He punched the dog in the head with a closed fist forcing the sister to release the dog which allowed the dog to run away.
The indictment presented by the state was for killing an animal (for the attack resulting in the death of the puppy) and animal cruelty for the attack on the adult dog.
Mr. Doe, then just a suspect, was arrested by the police and his time in the police station was extended awaiting arraignment and indictment. In the final indictment, we learned the sad and complicated past of Mr. Doe’s troubled childhood was cited as playing a part in behavioral issues for years.
In the last 15 years, Mr. Doe was convicted in a series of felony acts including assaulting a police officer, stealing, threatening, and for possessing a knife. During this case, Mr. Doe, said that he loved animals and that he was sorry that he killed the puppy. He pled guilty to the charges but he stated he remembered very little because he was under the influence of alcohol and some kind of illegal narcotic.
As Mr. Doe had pled guilty to the charges and presented himself as remorseful and someone who loved animals; but faced many difficulties in his everyday life. the public defender proposed a mild punishment of 200 hours of community service in an elderly home and 1 year probation. The District Attorney opposed such a lenient punishment and wanted a sentence instituted for the current offense and asked for previous offenses, which Mr. Doe had received suspended sentences, to be applied and that they not be served concurrently but consecutively.
In the DA’s statement he claimed it was unacceptable to hurt a puppy even when under the circumstances the defendant claimed. In the end, the judge decided on a sentence of 10 months in jail and then adding on for a previous suspended sentence of 7 months for possession of a knife, 5 of those 7 months so a total of 15 months. In addition, Mr. Doe received another 18 month suspended sentence for a probationary period of 3 years for no other acts of animal cruelty. The judge also imposed a 3,000 NIS fine and Mr. Doe also had to give a 12,000 NIS security deposit during the probationary period that would be forfeited if he committed another similar offense during that time.
The DA, in his final speech, asserted that in an enlightened society, its level of civility is measured by not only how it treats people but how it treats animals because animals are essentially defenseless.
Someone who isn’t a legal scholar may assume that the punishment in this case was for the cruelty against the two dogs but as regarding a case of this sort in Israel the unusually stiff punishment for a case of the sort was based was based on the nature of the convicted felon who had committed several previous violent felonies but never went to jail for any previous offense.