A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Sep 4, 2013

Vindication For Crimes Against Working Dogs

Charles Ferguson, owner and operator of J.R. Ewing Guard Dogs, Inc. et al, was convicted of 4 felony and 4 misdemeanor animal cruelty charges, as the result of a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) animal cruelty investigation.  

The facts of this case were as horrific and gruesome as the actions of the defendant were cold and callous. For example, one dog was found dead inside a truck with her uterus severed and missing.  A necropsy revealed that she was suffering from a severe infection and that her uterus was cut while she was still alive.  She slowly bled to death, in an enormous amount of pain before she died of bacterial shock. After a trial encompassing the submission of over 40 exhibits and 17 witnesses, presented by County of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney, Christopher Frisco, the defendant was found guilty.

This case is particularly significant in that these crimes were committed against "working animals". The animal welfare movement began in response to the cruel treatment of horses, oxen and other beasts of burden used to power factory machinery and transport people via buggies and carriages - in other words - working animals. They were not viewed as sentient beings or pets capable of suffering, but rather as machinery and vehicles. The more the animals toiled the higher the profits accrued to their owners. Although it defies logic to overdrive and weaken an animal responsible for one's income, it makes sense in that it is cheaper to replace an animal than to sustain one. In other words, it is cost effective to work an animal to death and buy a new one rather than fund quality food, veterinary care and afford them the opportunity to rest. 

Though we have progressed in our attitudes toward our pets and in our willingness to be responsible stewards of their well-being, there are still, those who see animals as workers, entertainers and merchandise, but remain blind to the fact that they are alive, suffer and ache. 

Sentencing is scheduled for September 16, 2013.  Ferguson could receive up to 16 (consecutive) years in prison and/or $160,000 in fines.   Ferguson’s license to own and operate a guard dog business has been revoked by Los Angeles County.

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