December 16, 2005


Kansas needs to show a little intelligence with our Intelligent Design and pass a felony animal cruelty law
by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

Here’s a question for our ultra-conservative lawmakers in Kansas: If we are so intelligently designed, why is it every time a bill comes before the legislature that would protect some of the most helpless beings among us, it’s blocked?

In February 1998, the Kansas City metropolitan area was subjected to true evil. It manifested itself on our nightly news, during the dinner hour in the form of videotape that portrayed a most horrible and senseless crime. Four young men filmed themselves torturing a little dog to death. Although the most gruesome scenes were not shown on television, it drove anyone with an ounce of compassion to a call for justice.

As the case unfolded in the media in what became known as the Scruffy case, we learned that these four individuals — Lance Arsenalt, Richard Golubski, Jose Gutierrez and Marcus Rodriguez, all of Kansas City, KS — were the perpetrators. Although Terra Morehead, then Wyandotte County assistant district attorney was outraged, she feared there was little she could do other than pursue the misdemeanor animal cruelty statute.

It was only because of one of the most horrible acts the men committed against the 12-year-old house pet that Morehead was able to pursue felony charges. She filed and won convictions of arson, but that was only because Scruffy the dog was found to have belonged to someone else, deemed “property,” and thus subject to the same protection as any other inanimate object such as a house, barn or car.

But Scruffy was not an inanimate object. I’ve seen the whole tape, the scenes that weren’t shown on our nightly news or any of the many national news documentaries that aired the story. The audio in that tape is enough to make anyone lose their lunch.

And therein lies the true crime in Kansas. Since 1998, Kansas Sen. David Haley has introduced legislation appropriately named the “Scruffy Bill” in each legislative session, only to have it blocked by lawmakers bowing to the huge agriculture industry in the state.

Why? Haley told me upon his third attempt that ranchers and farmers are afraid that some of their practices might be considered “abuse.” Well, that’s probably another whole column, but Haley’s bill has specifically named domestic pets, such as the dog lying at your feet right or the cat walking across your keyboard as you try to read this column. In other words, for most of us, the little four-legged members of our family.

Scruffy isn’t an isolated incident. It happened before anyone was stupid enough to video tape it and it continues to happen, probably every day, throughout the state. And what if you saw your neighbor beating his dog or placing a cat on a lighted charcoal grill? You could call the police, but there is little they can do about it.

Moreover, many serial killers have admitted that they began their killing sprees “practicing” on dogs and cats. Among them was Luke Woodham, who wrote in his diary about torturing and killing his “beloved dog, Sparkle,” describing it as his “first kill.” Five months after he smeared her blood in his journal as proof of killing his dog, he shot and killed his mother before heading to his high school in Pearl, MS and killing two classmates. Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and even Wichita’s BTK Dennis Rader are all thought to have abused animals before beginning their murder rampages.

The people of Kansas can do something to help correct this injustice and it won’t take much time to do it. Lee Brand is introducing a petition this Legislative session to see to it that a bill with a felony animal cruelty provision is passed. She’s put a petition for Kansans to sign on her website,, but hurry, the deadline is Jan. 5.

Brand is determined to see the bill introduced and discussed and she hopes it will be passed during the upcoming session, which runs from January to June.

She’s hoping that people will take a moment to at least sign the petition and maybe even donate funds. Although Pete & Mac’s Pet Resort made a donation, Brand said those funds have been expended. She’s also hoping people will take even a little more time by simply calling their legislators or go by Pete & Mac’s to pick up a button supporting the cause.

God knows the other side will have plenty of money and support to throw around again this year.

In Kansas, maybe the famous Mohandas Gandhi quote, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated” should be changed to “The intelligence of a state can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell can be contacted at


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