Nov. 18, 2009 - The Dog Abuse Case (updated on Nov. 23)
Since the 17th of November we have been receiving many letters from around the world on dog abuse case in Lithuania. We are grateful to all those who are concerned about this incident and we want to assure everyone that this case actually resulted in a significant resonance in Lithuania (1, 2, 3, ...), and a person charged with this crime has already been identified (as Svajūnas Beniukas), arrested and tried. His is sentenced to spend 8 months in jail. Such verdict is the first case in Lithuania when cruelty to animals is punished by imprisonment.
First of all, in many letters senders are accusing Valdas Baranauskas, but he is not the person in video! We have no information (apart from those messages) that he is somehow related to all this! We sincerely apologize Mr. Valdas Baranauskas for mentioning him in our text as possible re-publisher of the video. We were mistaken by incoming letters from all over the world.
The person with a dog in his hands is a 22-years old Svajūnas Beniukas of a small Seredžius town (district of Jurbarkas). The dislike of animals he appears to have is linked to infamous history of animal abuse in his family: just a two years ago his grandfather killed a cat by throwing it over to an aggressive dog. Unfortunately, he was fined 20 LTL (8,5 USD) only – Lithuanian laws in that sense are very mild.
Svajūnas Beniukas is well-known to local police. He is unemployed, drinks regularly and has been involved in many local conflicts – he is a known town roughneck. He previously was charged with theft in Kaunas and Jurbarkas districts. Regarding the dog abuse case, Beniukas in his defence said he had sought revenge on the dog after it was suspected of killing some of his mother's chickens.
The widely circulated dog abuse footage was most likely made during the weekend [November 14-15th]. For some time the dog was lying under a bridge. Then he was found by one man who took the dog to the police station, from where it was sent to medical treatment facilities at "Nuaras". Pipiras (so was named the dog, Lithuanian for Pepper) which was estimated to be around 4 years old was for a few days treated in animal care center "Nuaras", in Kaunas. Pipiras avoided serious bone fractures but had many injuries to internal organs - these were in severe contusion because of the high fall (over 20 meters). On the night between 21st and 22nd of November Pipiras died.
Pipiras is said to have been really fighting for his life until the last moment. Even after experiencing the awful abuse by Svajūnas Beniukas, Pipiras still seemed to have a belief in good people. His spirit is being carried on by thousands of people who were touched by Pipiras' fate (see Facebook groups: Lithuanian | International).
Both "Nuaras" staff and we at Animal Rights Lithuania received numerous calls or emails from concerned people. They offered their assistance, many wanted to take care of Pipiras after it would recover (which, sadly, eventually never happened).
Lithuanian laws on animal abuse
Clearly, penalties for animal abuse in Lithuania are too soft. Despite many known cases of animal abuse, the highest punishment given in the recent years was a fine of 300 LTL (130 USD) given to a woman who threw a dog out of a car. The police usually only warns ill-behaved people.
What are current laws on animal abuse in Lithuania?
- Cruelty to animals is punished by Criminal Code by community service, fines, arrest or imprisonment of up to 1 year (the latter one has barely ever been used).
- The poor animal care which leads to either animal death, falling ill or becoming crippled, may be punished by warnings or fines up to 200 LTL (86,5 USD).
- Repeated animal abuse leads up to 2000 LTL (865 USD) fine and confiscation of the animal.
However, due to this recent incident a tightening of sanctions has been proposed. D.Mikutienė, member of Lithuanian Parliament, registered the amendments to the Penal Code - if accepted, penalties for cruelty to animals will be much stricter. The act of killing, injuring or torturing an animal is proposed to be punished not only by public service or relatively low fines, but also by imprisonment for up to four years. Moderate crimes are planned to be punished by fines of up to 26'000 LTL (11'200 USD).
Some photos and videos:
Animal Rights Lithuania wants to thank everyone for the concern. We are very happy to know that so many people are not indifferent to sufferings or deaths of animals. Unfortunately, at the same time when you're reading this, millions of animals are suffering and dying in meat, egg, diary industries, are killed for their fur or skin, used for entertainment in circus, zoo, hunting, fishing and other activities. These animals deserve our attention too, and the least we can do is to stop supporting this abuse. Please consider becoming a vegan and encouraging others to do the same. It's easy, and is morally a right thing to do if we want to treat and care about all conscious animals like we treated and cared about Pipiras.