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March 06, 1998

Putting the Bite on Animal Abusers / Voices for Pets speaks up for those who can't

By Henry K. Lee
San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

http://articles.sfgate.com/1998-03-06/news/17716507_1_prison-time-animal-abuse-cases-puppy

1998-03-06 04:00:00 PST EAST BAY -- For seven months, an Oakland man accused of hacking to death an 8-month-old puppy named Brandy was free on bail.

Leroy Moyer of Concord, however, was determined to see him behind bars. Last week, he got his wish.

A background report found that 19-year-old Daniel Lee Williams posed "a threat to the community." As a result, his bail was increased from $20,000 to $150,000 -- and he finally went to jail.

"It really felt good to see him put in handcuffs and led away to jail," Moyer says.

Moyer, 60, runs Voices for Pets, a Walnut Creek-based organization that campaigns to make sure that animal killers and abusers don't get off easily. Moyer started the group in 1993 after he learned about a cat that was decapitated with a meat cleaver at a Danville party.

Moyer and other members of Voices for Pets have led an aggressive campaign to see that Williams is tried and, if convicted, gets the maximum possible punishment -- which could be up to four years in prison. They have written letters, obtained 28,000 signatures on petitions and attended court hearings to make it clear that they don't want Williams to go the same route as so many other animal tormentors: a plea bargain that leads to probation and no prison time.

"Each animal is an individual being and I have a lot of respect for each one," says Moyer, who owns one cat, a tabby. "They all have feelings. They all feel pain. They are able to suffer. They want to live and enjoy life just as every individual human animal does."

The legal system doesn't take animal abuse cases seriously and hands out punishments that are much too light, he says.

That makes him angry. "These are very violent crimes against innocent victims," he says. "The system simply . . . lets the perpetrators walk away."

Other animal advocates agree. In most cases, says Sylvia Bancroft of Menlo Park-based Humane Education Network, "nothing happens -- it's a slap on the wrist at most. My outrage is so huge and overwhelming I probably would become incoherent."

Certainly, accounts of the crime that Williams is accused of are chilling:

Witnesses said that on July 24 Williams hung Brandy from a tree at Arroyo Viejo Park in East Oakland and used a machete to hack off one of the puppy's paws, leave another dangling by the skin and sever some of the pet's vertebrae.

When two boys asked what he was doing, Williams reportedly growled, "Shut up -- don't tell no one before I do it to you all."