I spent a good part of this morning crying.
Not so much because anything bad happened, but because something pretty good happened….but it didn’t happen without a price.
In March of 2011 there was a horrible story of animal abuse in the news. It happened in West Virginia, and it was one of the most shocking things I have ever heard. Moreover, the case was a perfect example why people should never ever offer pets “free to a good home”. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I do my best to educate people as to why offering pets “Free” puts them in deadly danger. If you need a reminder, you can read those blog posts here:
I didn’t hear anything about the West Virginia case for months..but then there was an update in January, and when I saw it, I began covering the story for Pet Pardons News. (Hey! did you know I am writing for Pet Pardons News, now?) Pet Pardons has started a website where they keep people informed about animal cruelty cases, animal welfare laws, pet food recalls…you name it. If it’s about pets, we try to cover it.
The case out of West Virginia is about a young man named Jeffrey Nally. Barely more than a kid, but already he is has proven that he is a clear threat to society. What he did is so brutal, so sick, that I don’t even like having his name here on my blog page. Nally obtained 29 “Free” pets from classified ads and ads on Craigslist, and then he tortured and mutilated them and killed them. Most of them were puppies. As if that’s not crazy enough, there are details in the story far more bizarre than that. You can read the whole story on Pet Pardons News if you are so inclined.
- Alleged Puppy Torturer Appears in Court
- Accused ‘Free to Good Home’ Pet Killer Will Move to Suppress Evidence
- “Free To A Good Home” Puppy Killer Sentenced in West Virginia
During the time I’ve covered the story, I’ve spoken with the Hancock Country Prosecutor a number of times. He was very helpful in providing information for my articles, and I could tell when I spoke to him that he was in it to win. He has dogs too, and he loves them.
When the first reports came out that Nally had been sentenced yesterday, I gathered all the info I could, and then I called the Country Prosecutor this morning and had a chat. We talked about all the aspects of the case. Nally had been charged with 29 counts of felony animal cruelty and a couple of other things as well. He ended up taking a plea deal, admitting to 9 counts of animal cruelty and 1 count of illegal possession of a firearm. (he has a prior domestic abuse record). The Judge sentenced him yesterday to 10-45 years in prison.
That’s huge. Do you know how significant that is?
In most cases of animal abuse, people get off with ridiculously light sentences. Things like a small fine and community service in an animal shelter. (like that makes sense.) Maybe, once in awhile, they’ll get 30 days in jail. So, even though the other 22 charges against him were dropped, Nally still got one of the most severe sentences for animal abuse ever.
It’s no small victory.
It wouldn’t have been possible without some amazing people. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the thousands upon thousands of people from around the world who signed petitions, emailed officials and sent letters, the forensic veterinarians who helped build the case, the officers, and the Prosecuting Attorney.
So…I’m back to him. Several times while we discussed the details of the case, I noticed a change in his voice. I finally said to him “I’m getting the feeling from the sound of your voice, that this has been a very disturbing case for you.”
There was complete silence on the line. I thought my cell phone had dropped the call. “Did I lose you?” I asked.
His voice, choked with emotion said “No, I’m here..” but he couldn’t go on, because this tough prosecutor, this guy who has tried bunches of cases in his career, was crying.
I hung up the phone, and I had a good cry too, because I realized that this sort of victory doesn’t come without a price. I cried for how hard he worked over the past year, how difficult it must have been to see the photographs in evidence, how exhausting it must have been to concentrate on such horrible acts of cruelty for such a length of time, and for the nightmares that I know he will have because of it.
So often, we are focused only on what needs to happen and on the outcome we’d like to see, that we forget about the emotional toll it takes on the people in the trenches. The people who are staring the abusers in the face, the ones that are giving everything they have to remedy a situation.
The Prosecutor in this case is nothing short of a hero.