When it comes to animal cruelty, nobody is above the law–including Utah’s police officers. Former Cache County police officer Jason Whittier pleaded no contest to animal cruelty charges after he left his K-9 partner, Endy, in a hot patrol car. The dog died from heat stroke in the patrol truck. Whittier pled no contest to a Class B misdemeanor at Logan’s First District Court. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Back on July 3 around noon, Whittier came home and parked his patrol truck in a non-shaded area. Whittier left Endy in the truck while spending time with his family. When Wittier returned to his patrol vehicle at 11:30 pm, he discovered the dog was dead inside the truck. All Cache County’s sheriff’s K-9 vehicles are equipped with safety features to protect police dogs while the engine is running. Once the patrol vehicle is turned off, the truck’s alarm is activated, unless the system is manually turned off.
Utah’s Animal Cruelty Laws Among the Weakest in the Nation
When it comes to drug crimes, sex crimes, and violent crimes, Utah have some of the toughest laws in the country. Recently, the state passed a bill that would lower the blood/alcohol limit for DUI. But despite the state’s reputation for cracking down on crime, Utah’s animal cruelty laws remain weak compared to most of the nation. Utah is one of only seven states that lacks any felony provisions in state code for animal cruelty. The state’s toughest animal cruelty conviction is considered a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable with up a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Many believe the reason for Utah’s lax animal cruelty laws is due to state legislature’s conservative nature of changing existing laws. The most common types of animal cruelty cases in Utah involve the following:
- Failure to provide adequate shelter or protection in extreme weather
- Animal abandonment
- Failure to provide necessary food and water
- Killing an animal without legal privilege
What If You Are Accused of Animal Cruelty in Utah? The Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorneys at White & Matern Can Help
It is important to understand not all people charged with animal cruelty. While there are many animal rights advocates fighting to push for tougher laws, there are many who are wrongly charged. If you are accused of animal cruelty, these are some important legal questions law enforcement must answer and prove to get a conviction.
- Is the animal covered by the law?
- What was the intent of the killing?
- Was it self-defense?
If you or someone you know has been accused of animal cruelty in Utah, the Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys at White & Matern. PLLC can help. Their legal team and staff utilize an aggressive and comprehensive approach to protect the rights of each client and to always look after their best interests. It is part of their commitment to always place the client in the best position to succeed. To learn more, contact their Salt Lake City law office today and schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.