Justice for "Patches" through state legislation?

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jan 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-18 16:58:12-05

A local animal advocate is hoping this is the year Idaho legislators pass a new law addressing penalties for cases involving torture.

The law would apply in instances where companion animals are severely hurt, killed or left to die like "Patches" the pony in Rupert.

Animal rights groups have been pushing for stiffer penalties in the Gem state for several years, and now that the FBI is tracking animal cruelty cases across the country in an effort to identify potential serial killers, it's their hope that justice for "Patches" will be served through state legislation.

Last September, "Patches" was stolen, dragged behind a vehicle for at least a mile, beaten and mutilated before being found alive the next day and humanly euthanized. While extreme cases like these are not all that common, some argue they are so heinous that, if the evidence is there, prosecutors should have the option of filing felony charges.

"We have felony provisions for dog fighting, we have felony provisions for cockfighting, I certainly hope that Idaho can step forward and put in a felony provision for animal torture," says Lisa Kauffman, Idaho state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

While the Minidoka County Sheriff's office continues to receive tips in the "Patches" case, it remains unsolved.

The "Justice for Patches" GoFundMe account grew so large, the family closed it. All of those donations have been set aside for future animal cruelty case rewards.

Kauffman believes that even bill opponents would agree with her definition of animal torture that exempts the ranching and agriculture industries.

"Someone who systematically does all these separate instances of torture and abuse toward an innocent animal, these folks need help," she says. "And, they are not folks we want in our community."

FBI leaders aren't the only ones who recognize that animal torture is a sign of a troubled mind.

"There is a correlation between torturing animals, particularly companion animals and people," says Representative Ken Andrus.

The Lava Hot Springs rancher wrote the bill. It would make animal torture a felony on the second offense.

However, he's been met with senate resistance.

"I think we should step up and do what is reasonable and right, and I think the humane society will back off from doing an initiative here in Idaho for some time," Andrus says. "The incident with 'Patches' would motivate a lot of people to support a ballot initiative."

If you'd like to be a part of bringing about justice for "Patches" through state legislation, Kauffman urges you to contact your state representatives and senators to push for a bill that protects all pets.

Tips on the "Patches" case can be called in anonymously through Crime Stoppers: 208-436-5353. A reward in the amount of $10,000 for information leading to an arrest is still up for grabs.