For Immediate Release:
October 18, 2023
Brittney Williams 202-483-7382
Alexandria, La. – Today, PETA sent a letter to Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell asking him to add cruelty-to-animals charges to the arson and related charges that Laura McLaughlin already faces in connection to multiple wildfires in the Union Hill area, including the Highway 113 fire.
The group points out that the approximately 7,000 acres of timberland burned were home to countless wild animals and that prosecutors in California and Oregon pursued such charges in similar cases that resulted in convictions last year.
“As these devastating fires ravaged the land, an unknowable number of terrified animals saw their homes disappear and many were surely injured or burned to death in agony,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is asking District Attorney Terrell to hold the perpetrator accountable for causing so much suffering.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Terrell follows.
October 18, 2023
The Honorable Phillip Terrell
Dear Mr. Terrell:
I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to request that your office add cruelty-to-animals charges, as appropriate, to the arson and related charges that Laura McLaughlin currently faces in connection to multiple wildfires in the Union Hill area, including the Highway 113 fire.
Thankfully, no humans lost their lives, but the countless wild animals who lived on the approximately 7,000 acres of timberland were undoubtedly less fortunate. The nearby Kisatchie National Forest is home to a vast number of animals, including swamp rabbits, armadillos, Louisiana black bears, and endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. Wildfires inflict terror and suffering on these and other animals—along with prolonged, agonizing deaths.
La. Rev. Stat. § 102.1(A) states that “[a]ny person who intentionally or with criminal negligence … [m]istreats any living animal by any act … whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain, suffering, or death is caused to … the animal” is guilty of cruelty to animals. Given that McLaughlin is accused of intentionally starting multiple wildfires that surely led to unnecessary and unjustifiable pain, suffering, and death for an untold number of animals—and that such conduct hardly qualifies as the lawful hunting of wildlife otherwise exempt from prosecution—we respectfully ask that investigators and your office add cruelty-to-animals charges to those she already faces. Prosecutors in California and Oregon pursued these charges in similar cases that resulted in convictions last year.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter and for the difficult work you do.
Senior Evidence Analyst
Cruelty Investigations Department