UPDATE: CHEN DEPORTED ON MARCH, 8, 2016! After serving less than half of his sentence, Chen was released from jail and handed over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who would decide whether Chen would be allowed to remain in the country. The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that an immigration judge ordered Chen to be removed from the country on February 2, 2016.
May, 2014, Santa Barbara, California - In addition to strangling his girlfriend to the point of nearly losing consciousness,19 year old student Duanying Chen viciously attacked, beat, burned and raped her 5 month old doberman pinscher puppy, Davey. Nearly every bone was broken and burns covered 80 percent of his body. Veterinarians tried to save Davey, but tragically, after several weeks he had to be euthanized.
Chen pleaded guilty to felony animal cruelty with a maximum penalty of 7 years, 6 months in prison. Yet he received a shockingly lenient sentence of 1 year in jail and 5 years probation from Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Brian Hill on June 30, 2015. Chen was also ordered to attend a batterer's intervention program and undergo mental health treatment, and cannot own an animal for 10 years.
Over 900 people attended a March of Mourning protest in Santa Barbara on Sunday, July 19, 2015, in reaction to this mockery of justice.
The protest was to demand tougher sentences for animal cruelty. LCA's founder, Chris DeRose, keynote speaker at the protest, stated the animal rights community has long recognized the direct correlation between animal cruelty and other forms of criminal and violent behavior.
Unfortunately, a majority of U.S. states consider cruelty to animals only a misdemeanor; local courts fail to deliver proper penalties for torturing and killing animals.
The FBI recognizes animal cruelty as a "first warning sign of potentially dangerous criminal conduct," and advises law enforcement agencies that animal cruelty perpetrated by minors is "highly predictive" and may even be a "rehearsal for targeting humans.” However, the FBI files animal abuse under the label "other" along with a variety of lesser crimes, making cruelty to animals hard to find, hard to count and hard to keep track of.
The FBI has announced, starting in January 2016, they will begin to create a national database of animal abusers and to reclassify animal abuse as a Group A felony - same as kidnapping and homicide. In addition, law enforcement agencies will have to report incidents and arrests involving animals in 4 areas:
- Simple or gross neglect
- Intentional abuse and torture
- Organized abuse, including dogfighting and cockfighting
- Animal sexual abuse
Animal abusers’ records will then be in front of every law enforcement officer when they run their crime reports. This has never happened before. This is a major change towards ending cruelty to animals and will also help prosecutors demand harsher sentences for abusers like Chen.
Unfortuntately, Davey's story is not rare. Animal abuse like this occurs daily all over the world. The FBI's new Group A felony category will track animal abuse crimes nationwide and is bound to give animal cruelty laws in all 50 states more clout.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
#1.) Report animal abuse to your local law enforcement.
#2.) Make sure the police take a report on the animal abuse to ensure it gets included in the FBI's national database of animal abusers.