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Photo of Henry courtesy of the Utah Humane Society

Utah’s Animal Cruelty Laws Come Under Scrutiny as Marc C. Vincent Goes to Court

Utah’s pathetically weak animal cruelty laws are about to come into full scope with the upcoming prosecution of Marc C. Vincent of Murray.

Vincent is the man who, in May admitted to cornering his wife’s Chihuahua puppy, Henry with a leaf blower, resulting in the loss of the dog’s left eye, but that’s not all he copped to; Vincent also gave a written statement to police admitting that he had placed Henry on a cookie sheet and into a 200 degree oven for five minutes. Henry, who is currently still recovering, suffered severe burns on his paws and chest.

According to Humane Society Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt, Henry’s front paw digits were fused together by the heat of the oven, causing lasting damage and leaving Henry with a permanent limp.

And of course there is the emotional trauma. In an article by Stephen Hunt in The Salt Lake Tribune, Humane Society publication editor Katharine Brant explained that for no apparent reason Henry “will yelp and hide behind the couch and shiver.”

Vincent, who is charged with two counts of animal cruelty, scurried into the courthouse for his pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, drawing a crowd of animal-rights advocates, hoping to both; get a look at the man who put a puppy in an oven and also draw attention to the case, which has been met with outrage throughout the community.

Under Utah’s current animal cruelty laws, Vincent will only face a maximum punishment of one year in prison for his crimes against Henry because cruelty toward an animal, no matter how severe is only considered a “misdemeanor” offense in our state. This is a grossly insufficient penalty considering the premeditated and particularly malicious nature of the crime and on a broader scale, the undeniable and unambiguous link between intentional violence toward animals and the eventual escalation to violence toward human beings.

The Utah Legislature has twice denied legislation that would make the “deliberate torture” of animals a third-degree felony, which might offer, in cases such as this, up to five years in prison in addition to considerable fines.

Animal-rights advocates are hoping Henry’s case will be an eye/heart-opener for the upcoming 2007 legislative session where they hope to appeal to lawmakers yet again.

About Tracy Medley

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4 comments

  1. You want a comment? Give my friend and I five minutes in a room with Mr. Vincent. I could beat him to the edge of death, leave the room with a big smile on my face, and rest peacefully that night.

  2. Put Mr. Vincent in the oven!

  3. What happened to Henrys was horrific. Henry is a adorable, loving playful dog who wants nothing more than to love you. The upside of his tragedy is that he personafies the need for tougher laws in Utah. Get involved! Visit our website: http://www.henryslaw.com and follow our progress in seethat this legislation is passed during the 2008 legislative session beginning in January.