Kathleen Denning was the animal control officer called to dispose of the body of a dog named Cooney back in October 2010.
Raymond Rios, a few hours earlier, had sliced the dog open with a box cutter in a downtown Reno, NV motel and watched as the dog ran around the room, bleeding, her intestines falling out. She died of shock and blood loss.
Rios then took the dog to the SPCA of Northern Nevada, where he’d originally adopted her, and described to the staff there in great detail what he’d done.
Rios’ ex-wife told me that this was a common behavior of his and that he did it to get a horrified reaction out of others. He did.
The police pulled him over and found the dog. Rios confessed to everything and then was allowed to drive away because the most he could be charged with was a misdemeanor.
This bothered Denning — haunted her, she said — and she has worked to get legislation proposed that would make aggravated and intentional cruelty a felony in Nevada, as it is in more than 40 other states.
The proposal called SB223 will be heard at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday March 23, 2011 before the Natural Resources Committee at the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, Nevada.
Denning will present her case there for what she calls “Cooney’s Law,” speaking as a private citizen and not representing Washoe County Regional Animal Services. She urges others to come speak, too.
She is collecting signatures via petition through the website NoToAnimalCrueltyNevada.com.
“We get about 3 to 5 cases a year that rise to this level,” Denning said. “[The proposal] is basically adding aggravated or intentional cruelty to the books, which we don’t currently have."
“The FBI uses animal cruelty as a profiling technique to predict who will go onto commit crimes against people. And a 1997 study in Massachusetts found that people who commit aggravated animal cruelty, 40% committed another violent crime afterward.
“We need to send a message to potential offenders and be a voice for these animals who have been brutally murdered and have no justice in this case. Raymond Rios drove away that night as if nothing happened.”
Rios pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor and got a suspended sentence with time served and told he can’t own another dog for two years.
HOW TO HELP:
1. Sign petition at NoToAnimalCrueltyNevada.com.
2. Send emails and letters to legislators on the Natural Resources Committee. You can find their contact info at the Nevada Voters for Animals at nv4a.org.
3. You can contact Denning to offer help at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by MarkRobison at 3/17/2011 10:47 AM PDT on rgj.com
The first committee hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 3:30 p.m.
Please contact the members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee:
Mark Manendo (Chair) email@example.com
David Parks (Vice Chair) firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Roberson email@example.com
John Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
Dean Rhoads email@example.com
Please ask them to support SB 223 (Cooney's Law).
Please note: Legislators will ONLY know the bill as SB 223.