” Everybody should read this…especially those in the position of dealing with animals abusers!! I was always told ‘Prevention is better than cure’. So to prevent a crime in the future, one has to deal with the culprit in the here & now! But the Judicial system is not dealing with animal abusers/killers as they should…why not?”
“It would also help if there was a National Animal Abuse database! Animal abusers could well be future killers…so stop with the ‘slap on the wrist & the suspended sentences’ they do jack shit to prevent the culprit committing future crimes…as is well known & documented. What is said here should apply to the whole world when it comes to dealing with animal abuse!!”
The man who is charged with setting fire to a cat in Bucks County must be severely punished for such a heinous crime (“Bucks man accused of burning cat can keep 2d,” Feb. 2). In addition, he must be prevented from having any contact with any other animals, even if it means depriving his son of another kitten that has been living in the home.
Animal abuse is an ominous sign. In Deadly Serious, which offers an FBI perspective on animal cruelty, Special Agent Alan Brantley recounted numerous profiles of violent criminals who had histories of animal abuse. From interviews with other agents, he found that about half of those in prison for murder had maimed and tortured animals while youths. And almost all serial killers abused animals as children.
The psychological literature is replete with major studies that have identified the animal/human violence link. When animals are abused, people are at risk. The man who kicks the dog is just warming up. Nine of 10 abusers are male. A batterer’s first victim is often a pet. Among the men involved in both animal and human violence, the most common charges were domestic violence and child abuse. These inseparable forms of abuse must be fought as one battle.
Animal abuse is a national tragedy. We suffer from a myopia regarding the far-reaching implication. The time for corrective measures is overdue. I would suggest a nationwide campaign aimed at treating animal abuse as the serious crime it is. Until the abusers are treated like the criminals they are, we won’t change society’s attitude about the unspeakable nature of this pernicious behaviour. Animal abuse is a warning sign to be heeded. It is not a trivial matter.
Brantley emphasizes the need for stronger anti-cruelty laws and more aggressive enforcement. In a survey commissioned by the Humane Society of the United States in 1997, more than 80 percent of the respondents favoured this concept.
Also, psychiatric intervention is fundamental. Animal cruelty may indicate a family in need of professional help. It may be a symptom of a deeply disturbed family.
The tangled web of animal abuse cannot be isolated. Eighteenth-century philosopher Immanuel Kant said, “He who is cruel to animals become hard also in his dealings with men.” Animal abuse often opens the door to persistent antisocial behaviour toward humans. One’s environment does not excuse this behaviour; it only explains it.
Now we have children killing children. Too often, these youngsters show early and prolific histories of animal abuse. Anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.” Stepping in at an early point may very well break the vicious cycle of family violence.
I would urge all Pennsylvanians to contact their state senators and urge passage of House Bill 709, which has already won unanimous approval in the House. The bill, now before the full Senate for a vote, would strengthen the state’s animal-cruelty law in two ways:
Anyone convicted of cruelty to a cat or dog for a second or subsequent time would be guilty of a third-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Now, each cat- or dog-cruelty offence is considered a summary violation, punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a $300 fine.
Upon sentencing, the trial judge would be empowered to prohibit or limit the offender from owning, controlling or having custody of animals – or to prevent his or her employment in the business of animal care.
These restrictions could be imposed for the statutory maximum term of imprisonment applicable to the offence even if the offender were sentenced to less than the full term. Now, such restrictions, as in the case of the Bucks County case, can be imposed by a judge only as a condition of bail.
This law would send another firm message that society will not tolerate animal abusers.
Bridget W. Irons lives in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia.