Assistant district attorney wants tougher sentences for animal abusers

Crime

Assistant District Attorney Laney Cuthbertson says Davidson County often prosecutes animal abuse cases involving hoarding and starvation but says one of the worst cases they’ve seen was in Old Hickory last year. 

About 20 cats were found underfed and suffering with mouth sores and respiratory problems inside a home in October, according to Cuthbertson. She says the conditions were unlivable. 

The owner of the home, Martin Sandor, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty on June 18. 

He will spend 90 days in jail, and he’s not allowed to own another animal for the next 10 years and must register as an animal abuser, according to Cuthbertson.

But the prosecutor says that’s not enough. 

She handles four to five animal abuse cases each month but says it’s hard to get a conviction. 

“Even if you’re successful in prosecuting them, the penalties are minimal,” she said. 

The state launched its animal abuse registry in 2016, but only 14 people have since been added to it.

Cuthbertson says, in most cases, other crimes accompany animal abuse.

“People who [show] cruelty to animals are often violent to people,” she said. “They often commit very violent acts against children, [or] against other adults.”

Cuthbertson said that this is a crime that needs jail time in every case.

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