A group of animal advocates said standing outside the Capitol Wednesday was worth it, despite the cold.
The idea for the rally started when Michelle Lombas traveled around McComb helping dogs and cats left outside in the below freezing temps.
"It was about 90 percent of the animals we delivered to, there could be animal cruelty charges pressed on them because of the body condition," Lombas said.
It's an all too familiar sight for Katherine Sammons with the Southern Pines Animal Shelter.
"A lot of times, law enforcement is a little bit leery to jump in there and say that this is absolutely abuse when they don't know," explained Sammons.
One exception is Phyllis Olds, the Stone County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy.
"I put a lot into it because I've seen the abuse and the neglect and a lot of times, it's done on my own time," Olds admitted.
She's been a part of several rescues in her county including a puppy mill and hoarding situation last year.
"In law enforcement, I need something with some bite in it," said Olds. "So when I take them to court, I can get more than a misdemeanor conviction. Right now, it's a misdemeanor. They pay their fine, they walk out, they'll move to another county and start another one."
The current law makes animal cruelty a felony on the second offense. And it only allows offenders to be charged per incident, not per animal. A Senate bill that would've changed that died in committee this session.
"You're wanting to go say to these legislators, let me go show you what some of them is raised in," lamented Olds.
Rally organizer Michelle Lombas says the rally is the kick-off for her personal campaign. She plans to go to communities statewide. She'll ask for more emphasis to be placed on animal cruelty crack downs.
"We need to do better," explained Lombas. "We can definitely do better. We're known for having a big heart and hospitality and we need to share that towards our animals as well."
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