Pushing for harsher animal cruelty laws in Md.

A trip to the neighborhood dog park turned deadly for 3-year-old Bear Bear. The beloved pet of Rachel and Ryan Rettaliata apparently got into a fight with a German shepherd.

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The owner of the other dog, a federal police officer, pulled out his gun and shot Bear Bear.

The killing of the husky in a park sparked outrage. The anger only grew when the man who killed Bear Bear, Keith Shepherd, got a fine and probation.

Thursday in Annapolis, the Rettaliatas joined other animal rights activists in calling for a harsher punishment for animal cruelty.

They want lawmakers to raise the penalty for inflicting unnecessary suffering or pain on an animal from 90 days to six months imprisonment. They also want the fine increased from $1,000 to $2,500.

The shooting of Bear Bear and the burning of a pit bull and kitten in Baltimore has the General Assembly looking to create new offenses for setting an animal on fire or using a handgun, rifle or dangerous weapon to harm an animal, with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

“This abuse of animals is usually a precursor to of more serious crime committed by juveniles against human beings,” said John R. Leopold, Anne Arundel County executive.

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