DES MOINES, Iowa -- A dog is recovering after being saved from abuse at the hands of a juvenile in Des Moines, according to the Animal Rescue League.
The ARL of Iowa says it assisted the Des Moines Police on a call of a dog in distress in the 2800 block of Boston Avenue on January 18th. When officers arrived they found a young dog in the home with its face swollen "four times the normal size". The dog was covered in feces and its water bowl was full of blood.
The owner, a juvenile, had allegedly wrapped an electrical cord around the dog's muzzle and then urinated on it. He has been charged with one count of neglect in juvenile court. His name is not being released.
The dog, nicknamed "Bennie" by the ARL, continues to receive treatment. The swelling on his muzzle took more than a week to decrease and still hasn't gone all the way down. A scar on his muzzle shows where the cord was wrapped.
The Animal Rescue League is requesting donations to pay for Bennie's care.
ARL of Iowa CEO Tom Colvin says Iowa's laws don't do enough to rehabilitate abusers in cases like this. He says lawmakers need to act to change that. He released a statement saying:
“It is unimaginable the suffering that Bennie endured during this ordeal and it is particularly concerning that the alleged abuser is a juvenile offender. Bennie is now safe at the ARL, but Iowa laws will do little to ensure that his alleged abuser is both punished and rehabilitated – and the laws will do absolutely nothing to ensure that other animals are protected from this person in the future. It is past time for Iowa lawmakers to pass legislation to strengthen Iowa’s animal laws so that abusers receive appropriate punishment for their crimes and mental evaluations to determine treatment to prevent re-offending – and so animals can be protected from horrible abuse like what Bennie suffered.”
Colvin said animal abuse cases are on the rise in Iowa.
"I think what is really is alarming to me, and concerning to me, and just tears at the heart is that it just seems to be that these animal lives, they’re just for whatever reason, people aren’t connecting the suffering that these animals are going through with this mistreatment," Colvin said.
Colvin said studies show animal abuse is a precursor to other violent crimes.
Coordinator for the National Link Coalition Phil Arkow said whenever and animal is at risk, people are also at risk.
"When animals are abused, people are at risk. When people are abused, animals are at risk. And it’s not just a crime against the animal. It’s not just a crime against society, but it’s often part of a larger pattern of family violence and community violence as well," Arkow said
Colvin said they hope to address the rise in abuse cases with legislation, SSB1075, that defines animal abuse language and penalties.
"We try to make penalties a deterrent, but that doesn't always seem to be working at this point. Either getting the jail sentences actually not suspended and actually doing them, but it’s going to have to be a number of things that gets to the root of the problem and try to solve it," Colvin said.