Allowing animal abusers a few pets is like allowing pedophiles a couple of kids

Clover and Heidi Somerville
Clover was among the 34 dogs in distress seized in April 2011. Clover is now living happily with her new owner Heidi Somerville. (Calgary Herald)

On Wednesday, a Calgary court judge ruled Joseph Hogan was guilty of animal cruelty. The Calgary Humane Society seized 34 pit bulls from Hogan’s Calgary home in 2011. Many were in distress — he had been told to improve their conditions, including provision of water, more space and medical care.

Seems he was breeding the animals. He had 20 adults and 14 puppies at his home and was sending out flyers saying he was having trouble feeding them.

Some of the dogs had wounds from trying to escape their cages, others were dehydrated.

The humane society’s press release states Hogan was handed a $5,000 fine and a lifetime limit of three animals. Three animals. Why any? Why not ban him for life? He’s been proven to be a deficient animal caregiver, he’s been convicted and yet he’s still allowed to have a few dogs to possibly abuse in future.

Judge may need a taste of what it's like

Animal rescuers must be chewing holes in their slippers over this one. Perhaps the judge should have spent some time in one of Hogan’s cramped kennels or been left with festering sores to understand what these dogs experienced.

The dogs are now being spayed or neutered and will be adopted to caring homes.

A man who breeds dogs like pit bulls — dogs that already get a bad rap because of owners who want to project a macho image and who can’t handle them or train them responsibly — is more dangerous than this sentence indicates. The society was pleased with the fine, noting it’s one of the highest penalties it’s been able to achieve in court.

It’s still inadequate, especially for someone who was told to improve conditions for his animals several times. Those dogs warrant the same care and attention as any other canine would get, regardless of whether it’s a teacup poodle or a great Dane. Granting Hogan access to any animals when it’s been proven he’s not capable of attending the ones he was caring for is like letting a pedophile hang out with a few kids instead of a roomful. It’s not right.

And in case someone thinks this was a one-off incident, think again. The Calgary Herald reported Hogan has another court date for June on another charge concerning an injured and emaciated dog that was taken from him before the pit bulls.

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