PETA, SC family continue fight for cruelty charges

Things can change dramatically in a moment.When Laurena Jensen took her 8-year-old yellow lab, Molly Rose, out for a walk in Romulus along the Seneca Army Depot fence — a place where many walkers pass — something happened that will stay with her for the rest of her life. While they were technically in the Town of Varick — the dog became entrapped in a Conibear 220 trap. The pictures were gruesome, the outrage was real, and the coverage was plentiful — for the first few weeks following the tragedy.Jensen desperately called 911, as well as her father, Brian Jensen, but ultimately — they were not able to save the animal — who died in that very location. It was reported after that 12 tickets were issued to the two individuals responsible for the traps. However, the maximum penalty for those tickets would only carry a $250 fine, or 15 day incarceration per ticket. The Jensen family, as well as local media outlets reached out to local authorities from the surrounding area to determine what legally could be done beyond the initial tickets issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation.A representative from the Ontario, Yates and Seneca County for New York Trappers Association after the initial reports said that they work “diligently year-round in conjunction with” the DEC to “ensure humane and safe trapping practices,” which includes ensuring tragedies like this do not occur. FingerLakes1.com caught up with Melissa Lewis — caseworker for PETA who has been assigned to this case since it was brought to PETA’s attention. Lewis said that the process has been a slow one, but that she remains “hopeful that charges could still be filed,” by Seneca County District Attorney Barry Porsch.Lewis told FingerLakes1.com that the law they have been focusing their energy on is what’s known as the “Agriculture and Markets Law.” She said that there are a couple provisions within that law, which are interesting. One in particular, she believes is 100% applicable in the death of Molly Rose. Describing what that portion of the Agriculture and Markets Law, she said that, “There’s another part — which is the misdemeanor portion, and that portion says that it’s illegal to unjustifiably injure or kill an animal regardless of intent.”Lewis went on to point out that, “this is the law we’ve asked local and state officials including the DEC, Sheriff’s Dept and DA to charge. It’s a very straightforward law with very straightforward language and it’s baffling to us and much of the public that cruelty to animal charges were not filed right away.”Earlier this month, in an entirely separate case a Phelps woman was charged with numerous counts of animal cruelty after authorities found a dead horse in a pasture, as well as multiple other horses being found without food or water. In this case, the individual received 18 counts of animal cruelty and failure to provide food and water to a confined animal, which are misdemeanors.Molly Rose had a good life with her family — and while there are few commonalities between the two aforementioned cases — the precedent for charges is black-and-white by the letter of the law.For Lewis, the fight for Molly Rose is symbolic of the struggle that PETA caseworkers see each day. She said their organization gets “400 calls per week” in addition to “actual cases of getting animals out of bad situations, and into good situations — and then contending with getting charges pressed.” The work doesn’t stop there, either though, as PETA works to facilitate adoptions after the fact.“It’s a crisis. We’re at crisis level,” Lewis said. She continued by pointing out that with the number of animals entering shelters, and not coming out, it leaves caseworkers like herself — contending with quite a struggle. It hasn’t stopped their desire to create change for this Seneca County family, though. As PETA continues to fight for Molly Rose, things appear to be at a standstill. The individuals accused of setting the illegal traps were scheduled to appear in Varick and Romulus Court this month, but few details have been made available. For Lewis, she is hopeful for charges but also remains hopeful that one of the countless individuals her organization has reached out to will enter a dialogue, to at least explain the county’s position. This event changed the Jensen family forever. Their hope is to prevent tragedy like this from happening again in the future, while seeking justice for their beloved pet.

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