DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A new Florida law means those who commit crimes against animals are a lot more likely to do some jail time.
- Law named after a Ponce Inlet puppy now in effect
- Harsher penalties for animal abuse, bars abusers from having pets
- Ponce the puppy was apparently beaten to death last year
It's thanks to a Volusia County group that fought for justice for a Ponce Inlet dog killed last year, and many supporters said this day gave them a reason to celebrate.
"He'd be happy, I think he's smiling," Michelle Golias said of Ponce, the puppy the law is named after.
Ponce's Law increases the serverity ranking of animal abuse crimes, means those convicted are more likely to go to jail. Judges can also bar people convicted of animal cruelty from owning animals, and prosecutors now have more leverage.
"No more animal abuse. If you're caught, you're going to go to jail, and that's a great accomplishment because the law before was a slap on the wrist," said Golias.
Last year, Ponce Inlet police arrested Travis Archer, the owner of Ponce, for allegedly beating him to death in his Ponce Inlet backyard.
Golias said Ponce's pain won't go in vain.
State Rep. Tom Leek, who represents part of Volusia County, got it rolling through the Florida Legislature.
"In Florida we have traditionally treated animal abusers like someone who stole a bicycle," said Leek, R-Daytona Beach. "We're no longer doing that as of today. When this law goes into effect now animal abusers can face some real hard penalties."
Golias said she hopes Archer will get what he deserves and that Ponce's law will stop this from ever happening again.
"Everybody who sees animal abuse, speak up, don't go silent, call your local sheriff, call your local police and report it," said Golias.
"We think that this could be a building block for many more animal protection laws going forward, and those will work through the process and we'll see where they get, but we know we got step one," said Rep. Leek.
More than 90,000 people across the country signed a petition for this law last year.
The Volusia County Clerk of Court said Ponce's case is still in the pre-trial phase, with no future court date set for Travis Archer at this time.