Protection of the helpless: Enough court support? |

Protection of the helpless: Enough court support?

The Union photo/John Hart
John R. Hart | The Union

It’s taken the human race — at least some of it — a very long time to realize that we have been wreaking havoc on Mother Nature and most of its creatures, both two-legged and four, for eons. Many states and counties are making significant progress in making laws, identifying abusers, making arrests and seeing that the courts uphold the findings and take punitive action.

Why others and not us? There appears to be a lack of awareness of, and too much tolerance for, abuse of the most helpless among us. Children, women, the elderly, disabled and animals.

This article is about animals and Nevada County’s “justice system.” Animals, which we have domesticated and sometimes call our “pets,” have been tortured, beaten, starved, disabled, neglected and/or abandoned on a much larger scale than those few that make it to the news.

This includes those that are not pets, but are raised and slaughtered commercially under horrific conditions, which states and the federal government are increasingly investigating, fining and monitoring these commercial operations, and hunting practices as well.

A recent article in this paper discussed recent federal legislation to protect bears from being chased up a tree and trapped by hound dogs so hunters can just point and shoot.

So I am perplexed by our own county’s apparent feeling that animals don’t count and their inability or unwillingness to address the many horrific animal abuse and neglect incidents in contrast to the nationwide trend towards stewardship.

To name a few: the opossum case, the Silva case (still pending), the case of Frankie, the dog shot in the mouth 16 times while tied to a tree, with other injuries still being discovered.

Why don’t our courts follow state law which says that animal abusers who have been convicted as such (which may be ruled to be a misdemeanor or felony as determined by the judge) are not to possess or be near any animals for five years?

Why does Mr. Silva still have some new animals? Because “someone” forbade their retrieval!

This case has directed a spotlight on Animal Control, the Sheriff, the DA, the judiciary and the inequities of Nevada County’s court system.

Why do clear cut situations, such as Silva’s, continue to be dragged out at the expense of the taxpayers and “Sammie’s Friends,” in particular, most recently including a judicial closed door session?

Why has our District Attorney, Clifford Newell, involved himself in a number of apparent conflict of interest situations?

Why the judgments that appear to be more supportive of abusers than of victims? … or are the conflicts of interest connected in some way there as well? Why the continued support of the prosecutor’s recommendations of little to no punitive action?

As part of that, why are so many cases judged to be misdemeanors as opposed to felonies when there is the choice? Why so much plea bargaining resulting in a lack of fairness to the victim? How many witnesses and documented facts does it take to convict? Clearly a plethora of both have been collected in the Silva case and are available to the Court. At his hearing this week, the issues will be:

1. What will Silva’s sentence consist of?

2. Will “Sammie’s Friends” be reimbursed for the animals that did survive, but needed a great deal of care? Animals they have taken care of for two years, with an order to not spay or neuter or adopt out any, since they may be returned to Mr. Silva?

3. Will the law be broken again, by returning the animals to Mr. Silva?

These are questions that all of us should have the answers to — answers which will either have to come in the form of less political, more proactive, fair enforcement of the law in Nevada County or intervention from the state level. In either case, when election time rolls around, if action doesn’t change in the courthouse, elected officials will.

The next court date for the Louis Silva case is set for 9 a.m. Thursday at the courthouse in Nevada City.

If you care about justice and animal abuse, be there! If you can’t, then call our DA, Clifford Newell, at 530-265-1301 with your concerns.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” He also said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”

Julie Reaney lives in Alta Sierra.

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