A Long Island, New York, teen coated his family’s parakeet with hairspray and set fire to her, then posted images of the burning animal and of himself–laughing and giving the thumbs-up sign–on the Internet. Although New York state law defines such an act as felony cruelty to animals, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office opted to file only misdemeanor charges.
An outraged humane officer contacted PETA, and we went to work. We contacted out network of activists and urged them to demonstrate, posted an action alert on our Web site, sent a letter to the prosecutor, and issued a news release. After the media coverage, we generated and the avalanche of mail, faxes, and phone calls from outraged residents, the D.A. upgraded the charge to felony.