Our view: No ducking punishment for 'geek' acts, other animal abuse
What is it with all the animal abuse in a state synonymous with Minnesota Nice? Add to our growing list of gut-wrenching cruelty cases the sad story of a tame duck living peacefully in an ornamental pond outside the Embassy Suites Hotel in downto...
What is it with all the animal abuse in a state synonymous with Minnesota Nice?
Add to our growing list of gut-wrenching cruelty cases the sad story of a tame duck living peacefully in an ornamental pond outside the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown St. Paul. On Sept. 22, according to police, a drunken man from Denver named Scott D. Clark chased down the mild-mannered bird, caught the creature, and proceeded to kill it by ripping off its head.
"A vicious act," Tim Shields, a lawyer representing the Minnesota Federated Humane Societies, called the alleged incident, which recalls the original meaning of the word geek: a carnival performer who bites the heads off chickens.
Geek or not, he's regrettably not the only one making headlines for mistreating animals in the Gopher State. In the past year and a half, kittens were shot to death; puppies had their necks snapped; a bird, cat and dog were decapitated; record numbers of cats were abandoned or discarded; and teens near Moorhead set fire to a turtle and videotaped it as it burned to death.
What's going on? Can it be stopped?
A good way to start is by severely punishing offenders found guilty of such deplorable acts. Lawmakers and groups like the one Shields represents have worked hard to make animal cruelty a felony offense in Minnesota -- "for cases just as this," as Shields told a reporter in reference to the duck death.
Felony animal cruelty is what Clark was charged with. A conviction would end his dream of a career with the federal government, which is why he and his attorney are hoping to settle. Prosecutors haven't offered a plea agreement, however, and Clark, after making a brief court appearance this week, is scheduled back in court in St. Paul on Nov. 16.
To his credit, Clark wrote a letter of apology to the hotel and paid restitution. He also spent four days in jail and lost a job he already had with the federal government. But if found guilty, Clark, as Shields said, "needs to face the music."
As do all offenders who commit atrocities against animals. Severe penalties could discourage abuse -- before it elevates to acts against humans.