IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Animal activists in Eastern Idaho want harsher punishments for people charged with crimes of animal cruelty.
“We want to see a few more higher ranked charges for individuals that do things like the acts that we have seen in the paper and in the news recently, said Kristin Sanger, executive director of the Snake River Animal Shelter.
In the last five weeks there have been four reported cases of animal cruelty. In May, a cat named Slick was found completely covered in motor oil.
On May 26, a cat was found outside the Snake River Animal Shelter after being doused in lighter fluid and set on fire. A third incident was reported earlier in May when the Bitrick family found their 10-year-old dog Halo dead on their back steps.
"It is sad knowing that people go through a thought process of wanting to hurt and harm innocent animals,” said Halo's owner, Monica Bitrick.
Bitrick said she received an anonymous letter days after reports of Halo's death. Bitrick believes it was written by a young child.
"I am not even sure how to say how sorry I am for hurting your cool dog,” the letter read.
The letter shares the moments leading up to Halo's death. The teen writing said they only wanted to scare the family pet after it had run out into the street.
"Please, can you forgive me? I know I caused you a lot of tears,” the letter continues.
In Idaho, Sanger said the only felony crime of animal cruelty is poisoning. Sanger said the shelter plans on lobbying for tougher punishments.
An animal should never have a weapon pointed at it, even with the best intentions... just to try and scare it off,” Said Sanger. ”Animals are seen as property so it does shift how crimes against animals are done because individuals own those creatures.”
Sanger and the staff of Snake River Animal Shelter also hope education will help stop the recent increase in animal cruelty cases. The Halo Fund was launched last month to help with that education. It is named after the Bitrick family dog.
"The dollars that come into the Halo fund will be used to pay for summer camps for kids that are going to learn about humane education,” Sanger said. ”It will also help with community outreach."
The fourth case of animal cruelty in Eastern Idaho took place June 8. A pit bull died after being left in a locked car. The dog's owner, Latasha Rae Calvert Hood, 26, was cited for animal cruelty.