When do you decide enough is enough?
We all have different points at which that conclusion is reached. A thirty year veteran in animal rescue and North Carolina native, Beth McDuffie, 53, reached it last year when she was called by her local shelter to help with three Pit bull puppies that wouldn’t eat. The why is unspeakable but will be addressed later in this post.
Suffice it to say, this was a turning point for McDuffie. And the turn she took is to start stepping away from rescuing so she can dedicate her efforts to getting laws changed. Her goal, ultimately, is for a federal law to be passed making bestiality a felony throughout the U.S. Adding to the fact McDuffie suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and her husband is 20 years her senior, she admits it is time to let her best efforts be directed by what her limitations will allow.
McDuffie knows just how difficult a battle she has chosen as evidenced by the negative response she is receiving from those in her community. But she is determined. She has spent the past year researching laws throughout the different states and discovered only 17 states make bestiality a felony. They are: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.
Fourteen states consider it a misdemeanor, those being: Arkansas, California, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin.
The remaining states do not address bestiality as a crime against animals. They are: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Montana, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. Some of those states do consider it a misdemeanor if pornography or a minor child is involved.
Evidently, the fact that animals are possessions under the law does not allow for compassion toward the actual abuse victim — the animal — regarding bestiality.
McDuffie’s plan is to gather enough momentum from the public to get a law put before the North Carolina legislature. Once she succeeds in getting it passed, she plans on lobbying for a federal law addressing the issue and making it a felony. She will need to find volunteers in each of the 50 states to work with her on contacting legislators and initiating the legal process for introduction of Charity’s Law.
McDuffie is calling her quest “Charity’s Law” in honor of one of the three little Pit bull puppies she took into her rescue, Eagle’s Animal Haven and Den Rescue, Inc. in March of 2010. The shelter staff didn’t know why the three pups wouldn’t eat. They were fearful — especially of men and older boys — and sat huddled together with obvious fear on their little faces. It turns out Charity and her sister siblings, Faith and Hope would not eat due to intestinal perforations.
The photo above shows Charity, Faith and Hope in their self-protective habit – a ritual they performed daily. Doesn’t the look on their faces make you think they are trying to alienate themselves from the outside world? No puppy should have to endure the abuse they have suffered.
“So if you want to help, if you want it to stop … there is only one way. Make it illegal all over the United States. Make uniform laws so that all animal abuse carries mandatory sentences” said McDuffie on Facebook.
Once McDuffie took the girls to her veterinarian for an initial examination he informed her that the pups, in his opinion, had been sexually molested. The dogs were less than two months old at the time of the attack. Adding insult to injury was the findings during surgery that metal screws and other foreign objects had been inserted into their rectums causing intestinal perforations.
Performing her own inquiry into the alleged abuse, McDuffie found a witness who told her she saw a neighbor’s 13 year old son “having sex” with the puppies. The witness will not come forward to testify for fear of reprisal. The boy’s father apparently is a well known dog fighter and breeder of fight dogs in the area. McDuffie also told me that this boy’s father was recently arrested and jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail and all of his children are under protective services with the state of North Carolina.
Sadly, Charity died of complications from her injuries when she was six months old. McDuffie and her husband, Jerry are currently fostering Hope and Faith along with caring for their own nine dogs. They report Faith is the most loving of the two and only wants to be hugged and petted. Hope is progressing but is still quite fearful of strangers, especially teenage boys.
McDuffie understands the topic of bestiality is a tough one for people to hear and deal with. She is asking the public for help in getting laws passed. She does not want this to turn into a witch hunt for the alleged perpetrator or a call for punishment.
She believes the boy is also a victim of being born into a household and culture where dog fighting and the resultant violence is an accepted standard. She is also pragmatic enough to realize that putting any effort into bringing him to justice will do nothing for all the future animals who may become subjected to similar abuse.
Even though a police report was filed and evidence was collected, there was no forensic evidence with which to prosecute. More importantly, under present laws, the dogs would have been confiscated as evidence, sent to live in the shelter until the case came to court. That would have been a certain death sentence for all three dogs because they would not have had access to the multiple surgical procedures they required. To date, each pup has had four invasive surgeries.
Similar to Megan’s Law — the result of a grieving family trying to make positive change from tragedy — McDuffie wants Charity’s cruel death to result in something positive for other animals. She is calling her campaign Charity’s Law.
How You Can Help
The effort to actually get an animal welfare law presented to federal legislators is arduous in itself. If it does make it from committee to the floor, it will most likely take years to get it passed. Only by enough people working together and demanding new and more effective laws will animals be given some measure of protection.
Sign the Care2 petition. This will show legislators there are enough people who want bestiality made punishable as a felony.
Attend the fundraiser for Charity’s Law on July 30, 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Jaxx Nightclub in Springfield, Virginia. Several rock bands have been booked so far, with more to be announced.
Volunteer to help McDuffie get Charity’s Law introduced and through the legislative process. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow the Facebook page and spread the word of McDuffie’s mission.
Photo of Charity, Faith and Hope used with permission from Beth McDuffie