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Speaking up for those who do not speak

— On Labor Day, Patrick J. Oneill from Massena left his 2-year-old black Labrador locked inside a vehicle parked at the State Fair. Temperatures hovered at a hundred degrees. More than four hours passed.

Concerned fairgoers and a State Trooper made a valiant effort to save the animal, a female named Ali, but their first aid came too late.

Oneill, 66, was charged with animal cruelty and failure to provide sustenance, a misdemeanor under the Agriculture & Markets laws. Turns out he was already accused of mistreating 22 horses he owned in Massena.

When Oneill was arraigned on the new charge on Sept. 16 in Town of Geddes Court, he was greeted by a dozen animal advocates including members of the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse. Among the protestors was Deedee Dillingham, who lives in Liverpool.

“I’m outraged that yet another dog suffered and died at the hands of an alleged serial animal abuser,” Dillingham wrote to me in an email. “In Ali’s case, the dog who died from being left in extreme heat in the car at the New York State Fair suffered immensely before she passed away. Although this extreme form of abuse unfortunately falls under neglect, a misdemeanor, we believe that since the dog died a torturous death after being left in the car for hours on purpose, the charge should be bumped up to aggravated cruelty, which is a felony.

“Overall, our animal-cruelty laws need to be strengthened, and they need to be enforced. We also need animal-cruelty laws to move out of Agriculture & Markets and into the penal code.”

Sadly, she says, Ali’s death is anything but unusual.

“Animal abuse is rampant and ubiquitous, and it continues to be an epidemic,” Deedee wrote. “Advocates are trying to raise awareness of animal cruelty, raise the level of consciousness, promote compassion towards animals and be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

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