Support Apollo's Law

  • by: Christina Curri
  • recipient: NY Senator Joseph Griffo, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi

Apollo is a 3 year-old pit bull from Utica, NY whose sad story is an eye-opener for the drastic need for change. On January 24, 2011, Apollo was left outside by his owner and tied to a picnic table all night in -20 degree weather. When Apollo was found, he was barely alive.

Apollo's owner claims he was walking him that night when he got away and couldn't find him, and that he doesn't know how Apollo ended up tied to that table.

Aside from Apollo's frostbite injuries, he was extremely malnourished, unlicensed, unvaccinated and showed several signs that he was abused. Yet the District Attorney charged Apollo's owner with just three violations: dog running at large, owning an unvaccinated dog and owning an unlicensed dog -- and his only punishment is 75 hours of community service.

Insist that New York's animal cruelty laws are changed so that animal abusers like Apollo's owner receive adequate punishment.

To understand what -20 degree weather does to a body, think about what it's like when you are outside in 10 degrees above zero and how numb you begin to feel. Take an extra 30 degrees below that, lose the coat and see how you feel.

Hypothermia for people has a similar effect on animals. It becomes difficult to breathe or move, internal functions are affected and frostbite occurs. According to The American Heritage Medical Dictionary, frostbite is the injury or destruction of skin and underlying tissue. Poor Apollo suffered frostbite to such an extreme extent that when he stood up after being curled up under the table all night, his skin was bleeding and ripping off from being frozen to the ground.

Try to imagine if you were Apollo and how you would feel, or if it were a child or any suffering human meant to be under someone else's care, who wasn't given the necessary staples in life to survive and was left out in below zero temperatures. Then imagine finding the person's caretaker and having that person get a slap on the wrist, not even charged with a crime. Are you mad? Outraged? We should feel the same way when an innocent animal is treated this way.

In the state of New York, violations -- which Apollo's owner was charged with --aren't "crimes" and can only be punished with a fine and up to 15 days in jail.

If this tragedy happened in Michigan, according to the Michigan Compiled Law Annotated, Apollo's owner could have received up to four years in jail and possibly charged with a felony. If this occurred in Illinois, according to the Illinois Compiled Statutes, the owner could have gotten at least one year in prison. But in New York, his actions were only violations.

Our criminal justice system is meant to punish and deter crimes and get justice for victims. The punishment here is a slap on the wrist and the deterrent effect is non-existent. All this sentence does is tell animal abusers that their actions will go unpunished and encourage them to continue. Apollo, while receiving love and care from the Humane Society and thousands of donated dollars from caring people across the country, isn't receiving any justice.

Animals feel the same amount of pain -- whether emotional or physical -- as humans. They deserve the same amount of respect and treatment under the law. They are unable to speak for themselves and it is up to us to speak on their behalf. Something needs to be done on behalf of Apollo and other animals who are abused and in need of help.

Sign this petition asking to have the laws in New York regarding animal cruelty changed so that people like Apollo's owner are punished to an appropriate degree and a message can be sent that animal abuse is not tolerated in New York.

We the undersigned have gotten together and signed this petition in hopes that you will see the public's demand for a change in the animal abuse laws in NY. Apollo's story has received much publicity, but more importantly, it has opened many eyes and made people realize that something needs to be done. Many states have stricter laws on animal abuse and Apollo's owner would have been charged with something more than a violation. The laws need to send a message that New York will not tolerate this behavior. This can only be done if we see this crime become a felony, prior animal abusers are not allowed to have a pet again, and incidents like this give more than enough evidence to charge someone with the felony. To say that there was not enough evidence to charge Apollo's owner is not acceptable; an animal showing signs of abuse and being left in such terrible conditions should be more than enough to be charged with a felony.

We look up to you for change and voice our concerns to you so that you may speak on our behalf. We are hoping you speak on our behalf on this issue. Thank you for taking the time to read this over and for your consideration.

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