From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2000:

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer during the first week of April issued a legal opinion that pigeon shoots are illegal under existing California anti-cruelty legislation, because “conducting a pigeon shoot subjects the pigeons to needless suffering, inflicts unnecessary cruelty upon the birds, abuses the pigeons, and takes place after the contest organizers have failed to provide the birds with proper food and drink.” Lockyer wrote in response to a request from state assembly member Sheila James Kuehl, who questioned the legality of a four-day pigeon shoot held in 1998 in Sierra county. “Pigeon shoots are now held only in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas,” said Fund for Animals national director Heidi Prescott, “All three have pending litigation to halt pigeon shoots under state anti-cruelty laws.” The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that the Pennsylvania anti-cruelty law is applicable to pigeon shoots, bringing the end of the notorious Labor Day shoot at H e g i n s, which had been held since 1935. Existing laws were first used successfully to stop pigeon shoots in 1992, when S H A R K founder S t e v e Hindi stopped them in Illinois.

The New Jersey Court of Appeals on April 3 ruled that anti-cruelty officers are protected by the same legislation that shields police officers against frivolous civil suits. “The case stemmed from a confrontation on December 13, 1994,” wrote Hackensack Record reporter Seamus McGraw. “Five days earlier, Linda Mesgleski had turned up at the New Jersey Animal Control Center i n Bricktown carrying a puppy whom she claimed had been beaten by her husband. She also alleged that her husband had threatened to shoot the dog, according to court records.” Charged with assault and animal cruelty, Kenneth Mesgleski countercharged Ocean County SPCA officer Peter J. Oraboni with assault. Mesgleski later pleaded guilty to the cruelty count. The crossfiled assault charge was dropped, but eight months later Mesgleski alleged in a civil case that Oraboni had assaulted him.

New Jersey Superior Court judge Joyce Munkacsi on April 14 reversed the 14-count July 1999 cruelty conviction of East Brunswick veterinarian Howard Baker. Baker was convicted based on videotapes and testimony from former PETA undercover investigator Michele Rokke, who was a vet tech for Baker in 1996-1997. Munkacsi agreed with expert witness James F. Wilson, DVM and attorney, that a vet may legitimately strike an animal to make the animal pay attention, stop resisting treatment, stop aggression, or keep the animal from self-injury. Munkacsi reportedly remarked that she and her staff found no record of any other vet being prosecuted for a similar alleged offense. A N I M A L PEOPLE, however, has files on several such cases, including some convictions.

Computer programmer David Naas, 43, of South San Jose, California, on March 15 saw Thai Minh Nguyen, 53, dragging a chow mix behind a car. Naas jumped into his own car, and gave chase, managing eventually to rescue the dog. Kyle Frandle, DVM, of Los Gatos, California, gave the dog $5,000 worth of treatment without charge. After Humane Society of the Santa Clara Valley investigator Christine Franco and volunteers posted fliers with photos of the dog throughout the area, neighbors and witnesses identified Nguyen, who was jailed on April 6, facing felony cruelty charges.

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