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Wednesday, Jun 27, 2012County: Polk
Alleged: Luis Angel Lara-Leyva
About 20 animal rights activists rallied outside the Polk County Courthouse on Friday morning, pushing for maximum jail time for an Urbandale man allegedly involved in an animal abuse case.
Urbandale police in late June arrested Luis Angel Lara-Leyva, 18, after responding to calls from neighbors in the 3100 block of 67th Street who were concerned about a German shepherd that was not moving. Police said the dog died without water on the 91-degree day.
Animal rights activists collected more than 2,000 signatures demanding that Polk County Attorney John Sarcone seek maximum jail time for Lara-Leyva.
"Even a 10-year-old knows to bring water to a dog in the heat," said Lin Sorenson, director of the Des Moines-based St. Francis Foundation for Pets, which organized Friday's rally that occurred during Lara-Leyva's arraignment.
The group submitted the petition to Sarcone on Aug. 15. On Friday, they collected nearly 1,000 more signatures.
Sorenson, who entered the courtroom wearing a red arm band and a sign on her chest reading, "Abuse a dog, go to jail," said she was pleased with the outcome of Friday's arraignment: A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 24 at 8 a.m.
Lara-Leyva and his attorney swiftly exited the courtroom immediately following the arraignment and declined to comment.
Sorenson said the group is pushing for jail time -- which could be up to one year if convicted -- rather than the maximum fine of $1,875, for Lara-Leyva's serious misdemeanor charge of animal neglect.
"The Legislature has passed the law. The Urbandale police have enforced it. Now it's time for the prosecuting attorney and the judge to demonstrate that the court takes animal cruelty cases seriously," Sorenson said.
The group says the maximum fine doesn't cover the medical costs for the necropsy, transportation and police time involved with Lara-Leyva's German shepherd.
"We'd like to see this guy get some jail time for what he did to this dog, rather than just a slap on the wrist," Rick Johnson said while holding a leashed German shepherd, Noble, and a St. Francis Foundation for Pets sign at the courthouse Friday.
In a related developed, a motion asking that the case be tried in juvenile court was filed on Aug. 17 in Polk County District Court. The request notes that Lara-Leyva turned 18 on July 11, which was after the June 29 animal neglect incident occurred.
Polk County District Associate Judge William Price said a separate hearing would be held on the request to try the case in juvenile court. Assistant Polk County Attorney Kevin Hathaway could not be reached Friday.
- Des Moines Register - Aug 23, 2012
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