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Animal Cruelty in our county

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On August 27th Jamie Cutter and his dog Diva were in town on business.

“I have had Diva for 12 years, I take her everywhere I go.” said Cutter. Cutter, who works in real estate and the chimney business, was in Clarendon for a few nights doing some chimney work in Taw Caw. 

“Diva and I were riding around sight-seeing and stopped at Red’s Bar and Grill to grab something to eat.” Diva stayed in the truck while Cutter walked into the restaurant. Diva had her own personal fan and water bowl and the passenger and driver’s side windows were both cracked. The sliding back glass of Cutter’s pickup truck was also slightly open so that the breeze could go through. Diva managed to nudge the back glass open and escape the truck. 

“I looked all night up until 3 AM, then arrived back at 8AM that Sunday to begin searching again until 6PM. I then called the owner of the owner of the establishment and he said I could meet him and another individual named Wayne Gugliemetty in the parking lot where Diva went missing.” 

The men met and they showed Cutter where his dog’s body was. 

On Wednesday August 31st the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Department released the following Press Release:

“On August 28th, 2022, Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint of a domesticated dog being shot the night before at Red’s Bar and Grill at 6322 M W Rickenbaker Road in the Summerton area. An investigator was immediately assigned to the complaint. The Sheriff’s Office also received a call from the dog’s owner who was at the bar and grill the night before. The dog’s owner stated he had been in the restaurant and had left the dog in his vehicle with the vehicle running. The owner stated that when he went to leave the restaurant, he noticed the dog had gotten out of the vehicle through the back sliding window. The owner stated he looked for the dog up until around 1:30 am. The owner stated he had already received a phone call about a dog being shot in the parking lot at the restaurant. Investigators were able to determine through witnesses that Wayne Gugliemetty was the individual who had shot the dog in the parking lot and disposed of the dog’s body. At the present time, the dogs’ body has been recovere by the owner and Wayne Allen Guliemtty of the Summerton area of Clarendon County has been arrested and charged with one count of animal cruelty.”

Cutter’s dog was shot 14 times.

Under the state of South Carolina Law Section 47-1-40 Animal Cruelty can be defined as maliciously and intentionally maiming, wounding, torturing, mutilating a living animal or maliciously and intentionally killing an animal.  The punishment currently under state law is as follows. 

1st offense is considered a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of 90 days and fine ranging between a minimum of $100 to a maximum of $1000 or both. Second offense can carry a maximum jail sentence of two years in jail or a fine of $2000 or both. Many people wonder if animal cruelty is a federal felony. In 2019 the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act or PACT Act was signed into law, making certain acts of animal cruelty a federal crime. Violating the PACT Act is punishable by a prison term up to seven years, a fine, or both ( www.alleycat.org)

The federal law prohibiting the creation and distribution of “crush videos” does not cover the underlying acts of animal abuse, which can occur beyond the reach of state cruelty laws. The PACT Act closes that loophole by extending federal jurisdiction to these specific, particularly heinous crimes. The PACT Act is consistent with other federal laws that address acts of malicious animal cruelty that have an interstate nexus. Under legislation currently before the US Congress, federal jurisdiction will extend to certain heinous and unspeakable acts of animal abuse ( awioline.com).

The question in Diva’s case is does the shooting of a dog 14 times qualify for the PACT act?

Cutter’s best friend Jason Nelson and his five year old son Conner knew Diva well. Nelson said:

“Diva was my son Conner’s absolute best friend! Jamie is one of my closest friends so myself and my son were around them ( Cutter and Diva) several times a week, and Diva was the sweetest, the most gentle dog I have ever seen in my life. She was like a child in Jamie’s eyes. She went everywhere with him, even to work everyday. Diva was used to being around people, children and even other animals regularly. She was well trained and well behaved and wouldn’t hurt a fly. When my son learned of Diva dying he was devastated. He doesn’t know how she was brutally shot and killed, only that she died.”

In January of 2022 another man was arrested for animal cruelty when he threw a small dog in a hole and shot it several times while recording it and posting it to social media. The suspect was arrested and released on bond, same as Gugliemetty. His case is still pending.

Another case of animal cruelty in Clarendon County in less than year begs the question: Should the animal cruelty laws be stricter and if so, what can be done to change them?

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