“Caitlyn The Dog” Shows Why Animal Protection Laws Are So Important

South Carolina is near the bottom of the list when it comes enacting animal protection laws

Jun 03, 2015 at 1:09 PM ET

Viral photos of a dog with signs of alleged abuse is shedding light on the poor state of animal protection laws in the United States.

Earlier this week, a 15-month-old chocolate Straffordshire by the name of Caitlyn was found wandering the streets of North Charleston, South Carolina, with her muzzle brutally taped shut. Photos of the dog quickly went viral on social media and incited outrage from animal lovers and advocates. Authorities arrested William Leonard Dodson on Tuesday and charged him with ill treatment of an animal and torture. If convicted of animal torture, Dodson would be guilty of a felony and the crime is punishable by up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

South Carolina is near the bottom of the list when it comes enacting laws that protect animals. Only five states—Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Iowa and Kentucky—rank lower, according to a report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. These states lack basic protections for animals such as mandatory forfeiture of animals after conviction, adequate definitions of adequate animal care and an increase in penalties if abuse is committed in front of a minor. Illinois, Maine, Oregon, California and Michigan ranked highest as the best states for animals with the most comprehensive animal cruelty laws.

One major difference between the best and worst states is whether or not protective orders include animals. Today, 26 states and Washington D.C. do include animals, which has been crucial for victims of both human domestic violence and animal abuse, as it is common for domestic violence victims to stay in abusive households and relationships out of fear for the safety of their animals. Pet abuse is one of four predictors of domestic abuse. Studies have found that 88 percent of families under supervision for domestic violence had concurrent pet abuse, and an overwhelming majority of women entering domestic violence shelters—between 71 percent and 83 percent—reported that their abusers also abused or killed the family pet, according to the Humane Society.

Read More:

2014 U.S. Animal Protection Laws & Rankings (Animal Legal Defense Fund)
Prognosis Is Good For Dog Found With Muzzle Taped Shut (CNN)