Nov. 27, 2004 The Humane Society of St. Thomas expressed disappointment at Governor Turnbull's veto of the unanimously supported Animal Cruelty Bill and now urges speedy action from Senators to override the Governor's decision.
"In a first for the Territory, each and every Senator offered insight, deliberation and support of this animal cruelty bill," stated Joe Aubain, President of the Board of Directors. "In addition, three Senators offered amendments to strengthen and enhance the legislation after discussions with the animal welfare community and members of the Executive Branch of Government. The Governor truly missed this opportunity to diminish violence in the Territory," said Aubain.
"We are disappointed that the Governor did not engage the community in open dialogue about the Bill, following the lead of the Senate," stated Joe Elmore, Executive Director of the Humane Society of St. Thomas.
Why the Senate should override the Governor's Veto
o The Bill had overwhelming support in the community, including St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John.
o The Bill passed the Senate in a unanimous vote.
o The Executive Branch was absent during important hearings on the Legislation and did not consider the overwhelming data supporting the linkage between domestic abuse and animal abuse. (Source: Latham Foundation and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
o Animal violence is family violence. The spirit behind the legislation is to catch offenders of animal abuse before they move on to more serious crime.
o There was a lot of thoughtful compromise leading to the final legislation. For example, penalties for animal abuse and neglect in the first degree were decreased from five years to three years.
"We urge the Senate to move forward on this Bill exemplifying the leadership it demonstrated during its original passage by overriding the Governor's veto," stated Aubain.
The legislation first passed the Committee on Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice. It then passed the Rules Committee before going to the full Senate. In each of the three cases, no dissenting votes were cast.
The Humane Society of St. Thomas, the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center, and the Animal Care Center of St. John are dedicated to helping make animals safer in the Territory with the support of volunteers and community donations. On St. Thomas alone, nearly 3,000 cats and dogs are rescued, adopted and reunited with their owners annually.
Editors note:We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to [email protected].