Attack spurs call for tougher animal cruelty penalties

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sealionsTougher penalties could be imposed on people who act cruelly to animals in California. And the push to do that stems from a disturbing incident that occurred in Orange County just last month.

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers has introduced a bill that would add a possible $5000 “restitution” fine for people convicted of animal cruelty. That’s on top of the current $20,000 maximum fine under state and federal law.

“The extra money will go towards the cost of healing these injured animals, which are often nursed back to health at the expense of the owner of a non-profit organization that cares for them,” said Dana Point GOP Assemblyman William Brough, who is co-authoring the proposed law.

dastardly act last month when someone dumped a large amount of chlorine into a pool filled with more than a dozen rehabilitating sea lion pups at a Laguna Beach rescue facility. Several of the pups were seriously injured and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center says none has improved enough to be released back into the ocean.

An unusually high number of sick young sea lions have become stranded on California beaches this year.

The bill being considered in the state Legislature would also require people convicted of animal cruelty to undergo psychiatric counseling.

No arrests have been made in the attack at the Laguna Beach rescue center  Authorities say the investigation is ongoing.