By Kristen Maikoo
Krys Gidtrey, a sophomore at Salem, started a petition to increase the animal cruelty penalty in North Carolina. This project began with a presentation for a class at Salem. “I didn’t really think about it until I had to write a speech for Oral Communication and it was trying to persuade class to change the law,” says Gidtrey.
Currently, according to Gidtrey, the animal abuse law in North Carolina is six months maximum with no fine. “In South Carolina,” says Gidtrey, who hails from Charleston, South Carolina, “the penalty is…$5,000 with a five year maximum.”
“I’ve been working with animals since I was little.”
During the past summer, Gidtrey worked with the Charleston Animal Society, which is a no-kill shelter.
“The way that I like to think about it is what if it was your son, or what if it was somebody you love? Would you want the person who killed them just to get six months?”
In North Carolina, torturing or killing an animal would be considered a Class H felony, for which the imprisonment time is between four and 25 months; Class H felonies include embezzlement, false imprisonment, stalking, and theft.
“I find it kinda funny how they say it should be a six month maximum…lower on the spectrum,” says Gidtrey.
Gidtrey’s aim is to garner at least 5,000 signatures for the petition. “The more that I get, the more that Richard Burr and Thom Tillis would see that more people want this and that it’s a good thing.”
Gidtrey has received some criticism about their petition from those insisting that they should petition for more than two years. “Lots of people have seen that the animal abuse laws in NC are ridiculous. If you organize a dogfight, the most that you could get is six months,” says Gidtrey.
Gidtrey started petitioning for two years to see what feedback they would receive, and there were responses saying that they should raise it. Gidtrey says, “I thought two years was a little much, but I kept getting comments over and over again. ‘You need to make it more.”
At that point, they decided to consult representatives from the Forsyth Humane Society and Charleston Animal Society, they suggested that Gidtrey begin with four years with a fine of $2,000.
Also, they try to alternate the pictures on the petition site to show different animal victims of abuse. “Right now, there’s a squirrel on there that somebody hit. The squirrel has a concussion.”
Choosing a topic about which they were passionate, Gidtrey channeled their anger towards the lack of a fine into an informative speech for an Oral Communication class, and could be among those recognized during Women’s History Month.
“People try to think of animals as lesser beings, but they need love, too. I just hate to see that they get such a petty fine for such a big thing,” says Gidtrey.