Family wants law changed to help prosecute animal abuse

By Fred Childers - email | bio

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -     Shana Burke and her family are on a mission, in the name of their late family pet - a pitbull named Gage. "He was very much a part of the family, he was the main structure of our family," says Shana.
    Back in March Gage was reportedly shot and killed by their neighbor, Ray Stanfill.  "He shot him through the fence," says Shana. Her husband, Brit says "Gage was standing there probably wagging his tale barking when he shot him". Shana, and her family plead for justice, and it looks like they got it. He was charged with aggravated but convicted of simple. Ray Stanfill was convicted of simple cruelty to an animal on August 28th by a Bossier Parish jury, he hasn't been sentenced, according to burke he faces six months in jail. "If Gage would have lived he would have gotten ten years, aggravated," says Shana.
        Strangely the "aggravated charge" does not mention death.
        The Burke's think it's an oversight in the law, so they've gone to state Representative, Henry Burns to get it changed. "This morning Doty Horton, my legislative assistant called down to the house of legislative services and got a copy of the law," says Burns. He has promised to look at it. "Sometimes just the changing of one word, change of a comma, it could change the intent of the law," says Burns.
    For the family of Gage, his death should not have resulted in a lighter sentence, but a stiffer one. And despite their pleas, the sentence isn't likely to change, but maybe the law will. "It really won't help us but it will help when this happens again, for a better conviction," says Shana.
    Bossier Parish D.A. Schuyler Marvin says Stanfill was originally charged with aggravated cruelty to an animal. However, the jury came back with the lesser charge of Simple Cruelty to an Animal.
    The Burke's have started a grassroots effort called Justice for Gage that involves several walks in numerous states throughout the country.