Are Laws Strict Enough for Animal Cruelty Cases?

November 19, 2012 Updated Nov 19, 2012 at 9:43 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

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November 19, 2012 Updated Nov 19, 2012 at 9:43 PM EDT


BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Two Buffalo teenagers accused of setting a Jack Russell Terrier puppy on fire appeared in court Monday for a felony hearing. 19-year-old Adell Zeigler and 17-year-old Diondre Brown were arrested last week on felony animal cruelty charges after allegedly confessing to the crime. In Buffalo City Court Monday, Brown waived his right to a felony hearing and Zeigler's case has been postponed because he did not have an attorney. Police say the teens confessed to hanging the puppy by its collar, dousing it with lighter fluid and the lighting the puppy on fire back in October on Herman Street in Buffalo. The families of the teens tell Eyewitness News the boys have endured a tough life. In 2005, Brown witnessed his mother being murdered.

"Mr. Brown has had a horrible, horrible life and his background is sad," said Andrew LoTempio, Defense Attorney representing Brown. "I'm familiar with his upbringing because I represented the man who was convicted of killing his mother in front of him."

"My son's father passed, so they both have mental health issues," said Zeigler's Mother Arkeyla Copeland. "Both committed this crime together. Everything they did, it was together. They should both get the same amount of time."

Veterinarians with the Buffalo Small Animal Hospital say the puppy is still recovering from its first surgery and has developed a loving personality. They are keeping a close eye on one of its hind legs to determine if it needs to be amputated. Lead detectives believe when it comes to the law, animal cruelty charges need to be stricter.

"I don't think a felony is high enough," said Buffalo Police Detective Charles Militello. "Especially when you do this to an animal that can't defend itself. When the facts come out...they're very disturbing."

The teens are facing 2 years in jail and are being held at the Erie County Holding Center until their next court appearance.