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Animal Cruelty Ruling Overturned in Iowa
A man is cleared of an animal torture conviction based on a technicality
To think that killing a tiny Boston Terrier puppy isn't automatically considered cruelty is unfathomable.

These days more and more states are passing or strengthening animal cruelty laws, but recently progress in this area took a giant step backwards. Last month an Iowa Court of Appeals ruling overturned the conviction of a man who beat a puppy to death with a baseball bat. According to Polk County attorney John Sarcone, this ruling will make it harder for future animal torture cases to make it to trial.

In 2012 Zachary Meerdink was convicted of killing Rocky, his 7-month old Boston Terrier, after the puppy had multiple accidents in the house and bit his girlfriend's children (although it seems there is no actual evidence of this happening on the day of the beating, but that is beside the point).

A three-judge panel voted two to one that prosecutors failed to show Zachary acted with a “depraved or sadistic intent to cause death,” as required by the state's animal torture law. They say that the evidence showed Zachary did not appear happy about the beating and had first tried other ways to change the puppy's behavior.

I don't see how being upset or having attempted to train the puppy makes it okay to kill an animal. Zachary could have easily brought the dog to the animal shelter if he thought the situation was no longer working out.

This case shows how important it is for us to put pressure on our local lawmakers to strengthen animal cruelty laws. Fortunately, there is still hope for getting justice for Rocky. State prosecutors filed an appeal with the Iowa Supreme Court, arguing that a person doesn't have to look “happy or eager” to kill to be convicted of animal torture. They are also asking the high court to clarify the state's animal torture law.

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by USA Today.

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