(Scroll down for video) Animal rights groups are outraged after a U.S. court ruled that beating a dog with a baseball is not considered animal torture.
An Iowa man, who beat a puppy to death with a baseball bat, has not committed animal torture, an appeals court ruled Wednesday in a decision denounced by a group of animal rights activists.
Prosecutors failed to show that Zachary Meerdink, 31, acted with "depraved intent" when he killed a 7-month-old Boston Terrier near an apartment complex outside his girlfriend’s apartment in Davenport, Iowa, the Iowa Appellate Court ruled in a 2 to 1 decision.
The court reversed Meerdink’s conviction of animal torture and imprisonment of two years he received. Meerdink was paroled in April, but the court ordered that he be acquitted of the charge.
Judge Larry Eisenhauer said prosecutors must prove the defendant acted with sadism to support a conviction of animal torture. He said that standard was not met because no one witnessed the killing, it is unclear how many times he was beaten and Meerdink did not seem happy or anxious before and after the slaughter.
What's more, Meerdink killed the dog after it showed aggressive behavior, which was getting worse, even biting a 9-year-old child, Eisenhauer wrote in a ruling joined by Judge Nancy Tabor.
"The court's decision is unthinkable and breaks the barrier of logic," Lin Sorenson of the San Francisco Pet Foundation said. "Beating an innocent dog to death with a baseball bat meets the required level of sadistic intent of the Code of Iowa to be animal torture," she added.
Meerdink’s girlfriend, Jamie Holladay, testified that the puppy had accidents in the home due to a weak stomach, often jumped on people, had bitten her and her three children, and was not responding to coaching.
Holladay said she was running an errand when Meerdink called to ask where the disinfectant spray was because the dog had an accident. When she returned, Meerdink left the house with the dog under his arm. He arrived minutes later carrying a baseball bat, saying that the animal was dead.
Holladay ordered Meerdink to leave and called the police. An officer found the dog dead in the tall grass behind the house.