Photo by Peter Renshaw
Often, we read stories about horrific and inhumane treatment of animals. For example, a Hancock County, West Virginia, man was arrested recently for allegedly torturing and killing 29 dogs while holding a woman captive for several months.
Few of us want to think about this. Few of us can comprehend the mind that finds torturing animals appropriate behavior, while forcing another to watch and, according to a news source, clean up the bloody mess. Few of us want to see the pictures or contemplate the terror the dogs experienced. But as a compassionate society, we have to envision all the horrors that can befall those who cannot speak, let alone care, for themselves. And then, we must take action when one of our own violates the standards of our community.
Yet, for many of us we simply gasp when we read the headlines, shake our heads, wring our hands, and move on to the next story. We may shed a tear for the lost souls or reach out in an attempt to adopt one of the survivors of the tragedy. Is that all we can do?
When you think about it there is much we can do. According to one news story, “[the accused] obtained dogs, mostly puppies, through classified ads – fooling unsuspecting individuals into believing that he would be providing their dogs with a safe, loving home.” So, there’s an easy action we can take. We will never advertise an animal free to good home. We are not selling linens or an unused wedding dress. We are trying to find a loving home for a living being.
Animals are considered property under the law. In fact, they have as much status as those linens and that wedding dress. But we do have animal cruelty laws that go a step further in protecting living, breathing property. Some communities consider starving an animal a simple misdemeanor; others view such behavior as bordering on torture and will indict on felony level charges. Regardless of what the laws are in our locale, we can fight to improve them, to protect the animals of our community.
In addition, we can make sure our law enforcement and judicial personnel appreciate and accept the well-established connection that violence to animals, regardless of their legal status, may escalate into violence toward humans. While violence to animals should not be condoned under any circumstances, violence to animals is often an indicator of potential future violence to humans. The perpetrator in this instant case is 19. Without stiff penalties and sound judicial findings, he has a long life ahead of him to continue his alleged violent, inhumane behavior.
When you think about, make sure you do something about it.