“I wanted to defend real innocent people”

Determined to get justice for the death of his dog, he turned to this lawyer, who …

Determined to do justice to the death of his dog, he turned to this lawyer, who has become a pet specialist. For the past seven years, Isabelle Gharbi-Terrin has been begging all over France to defend our four-legged best friends, all too often victims of the cruelty of their masters.

In Cognac (Charente) he carried the voice of Baguera, a kitten whose owner had starved to death; in Chalon-sur-Saône (Saône-et-Loire) he defends the cause of Fudji, a German shepherd who died as a result of burns inflicted by his mistress; in Bordeaux defends the memory of Cookie, twice defenestrated by his teacher …

“Voiceless people”

“I was in criminal law for thirty years and I had to wait until the end of my career to find my way,” says the lawyer, who has not lost any of his momentum and is happy to talk about their struggle. “I’m tired of defending humans,” he said. Today I defend the true innocent. I pray for a whole people, the people of the voiceless. »

As they are speechless and helpless, she was one of the first to beg on behalf of an animal. “I consider that the animal has the right to a lawyer by itself. It is legally wrong, of course, but it is still the animal that suffers. We must not forget that they are first and foremost the victims. »

“I consider that the animal has the right to a lawyer”

If at first her pleas for dogs and cats could make her smile, now she drags a whole team of companions (and especially sisters) ready to fight in court. The association he created, Animal Defense and Dignity, now has a dozen lawyers and a lawyer.

As the retirement season approaches, he intends to plead for a few more years to bring his cases to an end, but now his goal is to make his association the gateway to “send cases”.

Fine of up to 45,000 euros

It must be said that justice has evolved a lot in the matter. Legislation has evolved, with more and more cases leading to sentencing, and courts are taking animal abuse cases more and more seriously, sometimes without hesitation to impose heavy sanctions.

Until now, Article 521-1 of the Penal Code provided for two years in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros for all “serious ill-treatment” and “acts of cruelty to a pet.” Since December 2021, its revised version provides for three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros.

In the event of aggravating circumstances (the perpetrator is the owner of the animal or an agent in the exercise of public service missions, or the acts are committed in the presence of a minor) the perpetrator incurs five years and 75,000 euros in the case. of aggravating circumstances).

“Justice is evolving and taking these acts to the next level”

“Justice is evolving and takes these acts to the next level,” said the lawyer. When the animal was still considered furniture, the damage was ridiculous, between 200 and 300 euros at most. But that has changed a lot. In Poitiers, the civil parties obtained 12,300 euros from a neighbor who had killed his dog, Jagger. In Niort, a serial killer of cats was sentenced to 10,300 euros in damages. »

“I want to see them on sheet”

Like other animal rights organizations, its ultimate goal is to criminalize acts of cruelty to animals. If they were considered crimes and not misdemeanors, then the sentences would be much greater for the perpetrators. “I want to see them on sheet metal,” he says.

If criminalization is not yet on the agenda, the lawyer points out, however, that “judges are increasingly inclined to imprison,” pushed by an increasingly mobilized civil society. We have seen up to 18 associations take civil action to defend the Iboo case in Marseille. The three-month-old puppy had been burned and enucleated by his torturer, who was sentenced to ten months in prison with continued detention.

In 2021, he was jailed against Icko’s former mistress, the dog he adopted and became his fighting pet. “When I caught her, she had no more ribs. It took me a long time to name her torturer, but she was eventually sentenced to four months.”

Modern methods

However, according to her, there is still a long way to go: “Too often magistrates hear one or two people and close the case. More than half of the files are not processed or are filed without follow-up or the investigations are not carried out properly. And we can count on it to stimulate justice.

In the case of the death of the dog Oksana, he welcomes the decision of the prosecution to conduct DNA investigations. “It’s a criminal law process that is generally reserved for humans. This is a breakthrough enough to emphasize. We can congratulate ourselves because justice uses modern scientific methods to identify the culprits. »

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