New York is considering "Kirby and Quigley's Law," legislation that would make it a felony to harm a companion animal, even by accident, during the commission of a crime. Conviction would be punishable by a $5,000 fine and two years behind bars on top of the jail time for the burglary or other crime, reports the AP. The proposal currently faces an uphill fight among lawmakers, but would be one of the toughest animal-cruelty charges in the nation. The law is named for Denise Krohn's two dogs, who were shot to death by burglars who tore through her New York farmhouse north of Albany before making off with several TVs, a laptop, some cheap jewelry, and change. A year later, the crime is unsolved. But what bothers Krohn is that police said the perps would likely get 25 years for burglary, but no additional punishment for killing the dogs.
"I don't care about the TVs and other stuff," she says. "What hurts us every day is losing our dogs." Diane Balkin, a former prosecutor now with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, likened it to felony murder, a legal rule that allows someone to be charged with murder if they kill someone during the commission of another crime, even if unintentional. Sen. Jim Tedisco, a Republican who first introduced the bill five years ago, was originally motivated by two cases in which heroin traffickers smuggled drugs in the stomachs of puppies and dogs and were charged with drug crimes but not animal cruelty. "Attorneys said it had nothing to do with cruelty, they were just smuggling heroin," Tedisco said. The bill passed the state Senate 59-2 this month but has died in committees in the Assembly the past five sessions. (Read more animal cruelty stories.)