“A long post but worth a read…everybody needs educating on why people abuse animals!”
A Wood County man is arrested and charged with killing one dog and burning a second.
Upshur County Sheriff’s deputies seize 28 small-breed dogs from a puppy mill.
Law enforcement officials and animal control officers seize one of 28 dogs discovered in March at a suspected puppy mill south of Gilmer
Gilmer police rescue a dog thrown in a trash bin.
In Sulphur Springs, a puppy is thrown from a moving car.Longview animal control officers seize 31 schnauzers from a single home.
The latest incident in the string of East Texas animal abuse cases occurred Tuesday with the arrest of a Lake O’ the Pines man accused of fatally hanging his donkey from a tree on his property.
Anthony Bassler was held in the Upshur County Jail on Friday under $50,000 bond charged with cruelty to livestock animals. Bassler said the animal was dead before it was strung up.
Psychologists, experts and activists have noticed the string of incidents.
“We have dealt with many different types of cruelty, from starvation to animals (fighting),” said officer Jacqui Lynch of Longview’s animal control department.
A veteran in animal control, Lynch said she believes people who abuse and torture animals are disturbed.
They “have mental issues, obviously,” she said. “They have no compassion for man or animal.”
Area psychologists raise concerns that animal abuse predicts abuse of humans.
“The hypothesis that I would generate is that people who feel extremely inadequate, insecure, tend to look for a vulnerable population, of other groups and classes,” said Longview psychiatrist Arlis Wood.
Wood has counseled adults and children who have a history of animal abuse.
The most frightening instances of abuse are those committed by children, the counselor said, because it is predictive of future behavior.
“Often times that is a very serious sign of later developmental issues in children,” Wood said. “A very serious sign of pathology and abuse in future relationships.”
Philip Coyle, the provost of LeTourneau University and a licensed marriage and family counselor, agrees that although any abuse of animals is serious, it needs to be more carefully watched for in children.
Coyle said animal abuse is one of three early childhood behaviors considered by professionals as warning signs.
“There are three red flags that are predictive of sociopathic behavior — theft, fire setting and animal abuse”
Coyle advised parents to be aware if a child younger than 17 has engaged in those behaviors.
One highly-publicized case of animal abuse came April 2 when a Point man was arrested and charged with animal cruelty.
He was accused of pushing dogs into a lit fire pit, killing one and severely burning the other.
Deputies said they found the burned carcass of a medium-sized dog in the fire pit, and sources told officers that another dog was pushed into the pit, but jumped out.
The dog had second-and third-degree burns on 40 percent of its body, according to the vet who treated him.
Andrew Terranova, an assistant professor in psychology at Stephen F. Austin University, believes some people who abuse animals view them as inanimate objects, not living creatures.
If this is the case, Terranova said, counseling is less likely to be successful.
“Objectification of living thing makes you more calloused towards those things — lacking empathy gives a poor prognosis of whether treatment will be effective,” Terranova said.
Terranova also said people hurt animals because there is little threat of retaliation.
“It is easier to be aggressive to someone or something that is less powerful and less likely to retaliate,” Terranova said.
One animal activist, Kelly Heitkamp, a practicing attorney in Longview, sees the recent string of arrests as progress.
“I think that this string of animal cruelty cases isn’t anything new,” Heitkamp said.
She said in the past, people wouldn’t have reported the cruelty. The appearance of a string of offenses is merely because more people are being caught, she said.
“The more that we are aware, the more alert we are to what is going on around us, we will report and notice things,” she said.
“I have heard from so many people that have become aware.”
Lynch, an eight-year veteran with animal control, agreed more people are gaining awareness about animal cruelty and reporting offenses.
“People are starting to become more educated on what truly constitutes as cruelty,” Lynch said. “I believe that when people see a case, know they don’t have to give their personal information and feel that they can call it in, they will do that.”