Video of puppy abuse reignites push for harsh penalties by animal advocates

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - Disturbing new surveillance video showing a Syracuse man dragging a puppy down the street-- after hitting it in the head with a board-- is prompting animal advocates to push for harsher punishments for animal abusers.

Steven Bryant pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges in exchange for three years of probation.

The Onondaga County District Attorneys Office is still asking the judge to sentence Bryant to 10 months behind bars, and animal advocate Stefanie Heath Higgins hope the judge follows the recommendation.

“He abused this dog over, and over, and over again,” said Higgins. “He was hit by a board, dragged on the road and then picked up by its neck.”

“It was a horrendous, horrendous piece of abuse,” Higgins added.

The Cuse Pit Crew Founder, who also works with the Humane Society, believes giving Bryant more than probation would send a warning to animal abusers.

“Only receiving probation is not sending a tough message that we take this seriously,” explained Higgins. “It’s sending a message to animal abusers that if you plead guilty and are on camera doing abuse you'll only get probation like in the case of Mr. Bryant, and that’s not okay.”

Bryant is scheduled to be sentenced June 21.

Higgins encourages families to write to Syracuse City Court Judge Derrek Thomas, who handles animal cruelty cases, and ask him to serve a harsh sentence to Bryant.

She also says families can write to their lawmakers about supporting any bills protecting animal rights.

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