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Toss a dog in traffic, go to jail.
June 20, 2001 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Toss a dog in traffic, go to jail.
So, what do you suppose a fair punishment should be? And, consider that dogs, while cute, aren't people.
posted by dwivian (50 comments total)

 
well, there's a law against animal cruelty, and he broke it. no one raises their arms in disbelief when someone goes to jail for killing their dog with a knife; you're not supposed to.
posted by moz at 12:14 PM on June 20, 2001


Sounds "fair" to me...
Random acts of violence, while not committed directly on humans, are still violent and inappropriate...
Perhaps if she had an unbuckled child it would have been tossed into traffic?
Besides, to millions of Americans dogs are practically family.
posted by SuperGoat at 12:15 PM on June 20, 2001


Toss my dog into traffic and I'll kill you with a butterknife.
posted by thirteen at 12:21 PM on June 20, 2001


Has nothing to do with being cute...that mutt might have been ugly as all heck...the point is as SuperGoat pointed out, this guy's committed a random (I'll add senseless) act of violence, for which he shows little remorse to boot. If the guy would think little of doing this just because he's pissed off at traffic, I shudder at what else he's capable of, and I'm glad they've snagged him on this an have the opportunity for a little intervention that will hopefully prevent something worse.
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 12:24 PM on June 20, 2001


True - dogs aren't people - which is why they don't have their own civilized justice systems with prevention laws like this that a dog abuser can expect to go before and be punished if caught.
posted by Kino at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2001


Maybe this is just one of those "dog people know what I'm talking about" kinds of things, but I think the guy got off easy, mostly because this was a defenseless little dog... I suppose I'd then have to extend the same right of retribution to those, say, boa constrictor owners who might find themselves in a situation where their boa constrictor got thrown over the median into oncoming traffic, which gives my skin crawl - but my Labrador Retriever is lying asleep under my desk right now and I'll tell you that if anyone ever did anything to harm that dog, I'd hunt them down and kill them with my bare hands in some long, slow, painful way.
posted by m.polo at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2001


Note that the sentencing phase hasn't started -- what would be a reasonable sentence? 10 years? 2? 10,000 USD fine? Community service?
posted by dwivian at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2001


Lethal injection!
posted by greensweater at 12:35 PM on June 20, 2001


Don't be so sure of that, Kino. Don't be so sure.
posted by Doug at 12:37 PM on June 20, 2001


I agree with what Supergoat said. Violence is viloence and violent people suck.

It does bother me though when a story like this gets more attention than a story on say, an abused child.
posted by bondcliff at 12:38 PM on June 20, 2001


Well the maximum sentence is 3 years in prison I think, although he'll unlikely get the maximum sentence. Well, what do I know, really?
posted by daveadams at 12:41 PM on June 20, 2001


bondcliff: It does bother me though when a story like this gets more attention than a story on say, an abused child.

well, it doesn't get any more attention than a story about a stranger tossing a child into traffic would. - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 12:45 PM on June 20, 2001


This guy f*cked up and is obviously an unsuitable ingredient in our struggle for a safe society. Lets speed up Darwinism a bit and forcibly eject his flawed genetics from the soup. In a very non-violent manner you understand.. Now where's that butterknife..
posted by Kino at 12:50 PM on June 20, 2001


Disrespect for life (animal or human) is a dangerous thing. This guy displayed a stunning disrespect for life by equating the life of a dog with being cut off in traffic.

This guy is deranged and needs punishment. I just wish there was an effective long-term solution other than just locking the guy up to let him simmer for (up to) 3 years.
posted by cludwig at 12:55 PM on June 20, 2001


OK, so violence against people is bad, and violence against dogs is bad, so what about violence against:

Cats
Ferrets
Mice
Rats
Telemarketers
Ants
Beef

Should killing mice be a felony? (They are pets, and pests too!) Where is the line drawn, and why?

Discuss.
posted by websavvy at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2001


If it tastes good marinaded and grilled, it shouldn't be illegal to kill it.
posted by bondcliff at 12:57 PM on June 20, 2001


just make him pay for the woman to get a pure-bred bichon frise, that'll teach him. although I'm indifferent when it comes to animals in general and find people's affection towards their dogs the source of severe nausea, I do acknowledge that people form a bond with a pet and even view the creatures as family members.

was anyone else weirded out by the last names in the story (Burnett and McBurnett)?
posted by srw12 at 12:58 PM on June 20, 2001


Kundera said something interesting in Unbearable Lightness: When you get to heaven, don't be surprised if, before he'll let you in, St. Peter asks you how you treated animals while you were alive.

Why is this important? Because everyone told you that you shouldn't mistreat other humans. You heard it over and over again, and you had the law to guide you and restrict you.

But not many folks told you not to mistreat the animals, and in practise you could get away with almost any animal-abuse misdeed you wanted to.

In a backwards-ass way, it's a real moral challenge to decide how you treat another living thing when you've basically been given permission to mistreat it with little or no repercussions.

Kind of like that old idea about how you can tell a truly moral person by how he or she acts when no one is looking.

I don't see puppies the same as I see babies, and I don't apologize for that. For me, people are one thing and dogs are another.

But, that being said, I'm very glad this guy is getting some kind of punishment.
posted by bilco at 1:01 PM on June 20, 2001


was anyone else weirded out by the last names in the story (Burnett and McBurnett)?

Yeah, I was. What are the odds?
posted by bilco at 1:02 PM on June 20, 2001


If it tastes good marinaded and grilled, it shouldn't be illegal to kill it.

Of course, if it doesn't belong to you, it should be illegal to kill it. Even if the dog has no moral rights, it was the property of the owner.
posted by daveadams at 1:02 PM on June 20, 2001


It's kind of funny how things work out. A few years ago, the only kind of pet I had was fish, and if I saw a story like this I would have thought: "the guy's an idiot, but it wasn't like it was a human being". Then I got my puppy. I swear to god if anyone laid a finger on him I'd rend them limb from limb.

Don't mess with Texas?
Don't mess with the weiner dog.
posted by owillis at 1:03 PM on June 20, 2001


Bondcliff, does that include people?
posted by websavvy at 1:03 PM on June 20, 2001


What are the odds?

Somewhat larger than the odds that someone would come up to your car, take your dog from your lap, and throw it into traffic, I would guess.
posted by daveadams at 1:03 PM on June 20, 2001


I don't know, websavvy, I've never tasted one.

I have made it my lifelong goal to try as many different types of meat as possible though. Anyone know of a South American rugby team that would let me hitch a ride on their airplane?
posted by bondcliff at 1:07 PM on June 20, 2001


What are the odds?

Somewhat larger than the odds that someone would come up to your car, take your dog from your lap, and throw it into traffic, I would guess.


Yeah, but what are the odds that someone would come up to your car, take your dog from your lap, throw it into traffic, AND have almost the same last name as you?

That's what's weird. Irrelevant, I know, but weird.
posted by bilco at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2001


And, consider that dogs, while cute, aren't people.
What the fuck does this mean? I've seen dogs which are worth more than some "people".

And websavvy, if you can't tell the difference between killing a dog and a rat, then maybe you should think again (think hard this time).
posted by kchristidis at 1:10 PM on June 20, 2001


Oh my god. I just clicked the link and saw the picture of that dog.

Am I the only one who thinks any dog smaller than a cat should be kept in a hamster cage and spend his days running through tubes?
posted by bondcliff at 1:12 PM on June 20, 2001


Anyone know of a South American rugby team that would let me hitch a ride on their airplane?

All discussions seem to be leading back to the ManBeef link today.

Do you feel it? I feel it.
posted by bilco at 1:13 PM on June 20, 2001


According to the SFGate, Burnett clubbed a crippled dog to death six years ago. He was a Navy sentry at the time.

Isn't it said that serial killers begin with small animals?!
posted by sillygit at 1:17 PM on June 20, 2001


so what about violence against ... Beef

I'm for violence against beef. Sometimes I hit it with a mallet even before I take it out of the shrinkwrap. That's just me.
posted by bilco at 1:19 PM on June 20, 2001


The melodramatic/pointedly sarcastic quotations from the lawyers are straight out of a TV movie.
posted by Joe Hutch at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2001


Why would any dog be worth more than some people? Even a totally evil person has worth; they can be effective kindling, for instance.

Dogs, on the other hand, aren't especially good in that regard.
posted by dwivian at 1:34 PM on June 20, 2001


I've seen dogs which are worth more than some "people". And.... if you can't tell the difference between killing a dog and a rat, then maybe you should think again (think hard this time).

Wow, kchristdis, what's your deal? Relax, dude.
posted by daveadams at 1:36 PM on June 20, 2001


In my state if you say 'fuck'(in front of children), you can end up in court.Thank god this denzien had no weapon.
posted by clavdivs at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2001


'Am I the only one who thinks any dog smaller than a cat should be kept in a hamster cage and spend his days running through tubes?"


why are people so prejudiced against small dogs?
posted by heather at 2:02 PM on June 20, 2001


Because apparently they don't count. I've been trying to figure out the scoring, but nobody's helping.
posted by websavvy at 2:04 PM on June 20, 2001


Heather, I think it's the pitch of their jib yip.
posted by dhartung at 2:09 PM on June 20, 2001


Small dogs are just... I dunno. Wrong.
posted by bondcliff at 2:19 PM on June 20, 2001


What the fuck does this mean? I've seen Small Dogs which are much less wrong than some "people". :)
posted by websavvy at 2:21 PM on June 20, 2001


And one other thing. I'll tell you who's the better man, a chicken or a dog. Your mother's the better man, that's who.
posted by websavvy at 2:22 PM on June 20, 2001


Wrong, like wearing white after labour day? Please! I know when I can't win, so I'll quit while I still have my dignity (and my small dogs).
posted by heather at 2:49 PM on June 20, 2001


"I hope if dogs ever take over the world, and they choose a king, they don't just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas."

- Jack Handey
posted by lawtalkinguy at 2:50 PM on June 20, 2001


Small dogs rule. Big dogs drool.
posted by owillis at 2:52 PM on June 20, 2001


Slate just had a great, great Dialogue on animal rights. Peter Singer (author of "Animal Liberation") vs Judge Richard Posner, one-upping each other all the way to the end, like some kind of egghead boxing match. Posner disses the entire field of moral reasoning, Singer turns Posner's own arguments against him...crazy.
posted by lbergstr at 3:01 PM on June 20, 2001


I swear, I think my 110lb dog and his drool contain the key to somehow saving the future. His drool is not of this planet. It has strange, amazing properties. His water bowl can go through an entire 300-degree dishwasher cycle and still be coated with drool. I need to connect with a scientist. Anyone?
posted by TarMac at 3:03 PM on June 20, 2001


Small dogs have too much gristle.
posted by dong_resin at 4:25 PM on June 20, 2001


My (small) dog probably smells better than the lot of you. Bah.
posted by lia at 11:06 PM on June 20, 2001


We raised dogs when I was a child. Great danes. Huge animals. Very strong, very fast, not always that bright. They were not human beings. We didn't kill them, of course, unless one got sick and to have that treated would cost more money than we could make studding them out or breeding them.

We treated them like valuable property.

I had one dog of them...a half-breed that had resulted from one of the Danes getting away and managing to swim out into the cove, where a rottweiler male was tied up. She did what you'd expect, and Max was born. Max was very big, like you might suspect, strong, fast, even dumber than the other dogs. I didn't kill him, of course, until he got himself kicked in the head by a horse and lost the ability to control himself. I never even thought to see if there was some kind of neurosurgery that could have fixed his problem, I just shot him before he got off of our property and did something that I would be liable for.

He was a dog. I really liked him, but he was a dog.

Are we justified in using our animals this way, in eating them, in treating them like stupid children or property? Hard to say. I would agree that being mindlessly vicious to an animal is wrong, because it implies a causal chain in your way of thinking, and because it means you may one day climb up from animals to people.

But animals, be they dogs or be they lions or horses or what have you, cannot be held accountable for things. They are not aware and cannot be made aware of the myriad of factors involved in human society.

This woman says that her dog was her child. I find that hard to understand. But I come from a world where everything was expected to pull its weight and generate money for the farm, or help it run, and if they didn't they were removed. The cattle were food, as were the pigs and the chickens. The dogs were a revenue source. Max was a good guard dog. The cats hunted rats.

The concept of keeping a pet because you need something to love is one I don't really understand. So perhaps I'm too distant. But to me, if an animal is domesticated, it's property. If it is wild, it is to be left alone. At no time are they people. We would not spay or neuter people without asking them. We do this to pets. We would not remove their front claws all the way back to the first knuckle, which we often do to prevent them from destroying our furniture.

I hate to find someone else' pain trivial, but in a city chock full of people living in their own filth on the street, going insane from hunger or lonliness, this seems like an absolutely frivolous matter. A dog died.

It makes me wonder about San Francisco, where we have cases like this followed by cases of roaming pit bulls in the streets. Those dogs are what they are because we made them that way; it's on us when they kill. If it is so bad to kill a cute dog, why is it acceptable to kill dogs that aren't? (Medically, I know they need to get those dogs as soon as possible to determine if they have rabies.) It seems to me that dogs cannot be held accountable for their actions...their owners should. Likewise, the death of this woman's dog is not murder, but the destruction of property.

Don't get me wrong: those pit bulls should be destroyed, just because they are obviously not being controlled by their owner and are likely to be a public menace. But we are not punishing them, nor should we. Likewise, when a dog dies as this woman's dog did, this verdict ultimately is not vengeance for the dog.

This is probably not a popular viewpoint. Doesn't matter to me, really. Until I hear of a way to survive on this planet that doesn't require the destruction of a lifeform, I won't sweat it too much.

One question; had it been a snake, would this case have even gone to trial?
posted by Ezrael at 2:50 AM on June 21, 2001


Ezrael, you spoke to my question clearly. Good job.
posted by dwivian at 7:05 AM on June 21, 2001


I don't think the verdict is vengeance for the dog, and It's not a question of how much inherent value the dog had. What matters is how much he meant to that woman. He had 'sentimental value', you could say. I have a worthless old watch that doesn't run that belonged to someone I loved who died. If someone stole it for no reason other than pure hatefulness, to me that's a worse crime than if they stole a rolex for the money. If your only motive is to make someone else grieve, that's pure, distilled evil on your part.
The snake part - society dictates who and what you can love, true. Just another part of the complex system of denial that lets us love our pets and eat our steaks for dinner.
posted by hazyjane at 7:08 AM on June 21, 2001


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