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.