A man who beat a puppy to death with a baseball bat didn't commit animal torture, according to the Iowa Court of Appeals.
It appears that two members of the three-person court didn't believe Zachary Meerdink acted with "depraved intent" when he bludgeoned to death a 7-month-old Boston terrier puppy.
The court vacated Meerdink's conviction for animal torture.
Lin Sorenson, founder of the Des Moines-based St. Francis Foundation for Pets, called the court's decision "inconceivable" and said "it breaks the logic barrier."
Evidently, the majority of the court believes Meerdink wasn't acting with enough depraved or sadistic intent to support an animal torture conviction. That begs the question, what more would he had to have done?
Chief Judge Larry Eisenhauer said, in his ruling, that it wasn't clear how many times the dog was struck. Had Meerdink been defending himself from a vicious, attacking, oversized animal, that might have been a reasonable factor to consider. But, there's nothing to indicate Meerdink was trying to protect himself from a dog whose breed, at full-size, rarely tops 25 pounds.
Meerdink's girlfriend testified that the puppy had a weak stomach, often resulting in accidents in the house, had jumped on people, had bitten her sons and wasn't responding to coaching. None of that justifies hitting a puppy with a baseball bat, even once. Meerdink had to have known doing so would be extremely painful and would likely kill a small, young dog.
If the puppy wasn't working out in the home, there are animals shelters and rescue groups throughout the state that would have given it refuge.
Scott County Attorney Mike Walton, who prosecuted the case, said it's up to the Iowa attorney general's office to decide whether to ask the state Supreme Court to review the ruling. The Messenger strongly urges Tom Miller's office to do so and send a message that beating puppies to death, regardless of the reason is, indeed, torture.