The recent mutilation of a young dog by two Uvalde teenagers should prompt our juvenile court system to seek a timely and appropriate punishment. To do otherwise is to send a message of complacency when it comes to the protection of creatures that have no defense of their own.
And we are not talking solely about protecting dogs. There is a direct correlation between cruelty to animals and violence against people. A study conducted by the Chicago Police Department reported that of those detained for animal crimes, 65 percent had been arrested for battery against another person. Also, of 36 convicted multiple murderers in a separate study, 46 percent acknowledged committing acts of animal torture as adolescents.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, pet abuse is one of four predictors of domestic partner violence. Researchers found that between 71 and 83 percent of women entering domestic violence shelters said that their partners also abused or killed the family pet. And another study showed that in families under supervision for physical abuse of their children, pet abuse was happening in 83 percent of the groups.
These unhappy statistics underscore the need to report and respond to animal abuse with consistent and timely measures. There is no room for saying “they are just being children“ when a young dog shows up with its ears cut away with a jagged instrument as was the case in the recent incident.
It is no less cruel to leave a pet chained outside in the blistering heat of summer or freezing cold of winter. Or to leave the same animal without adequate food and water. Or to ignore obvious wounds or disease. If one does not have the time or resources to care for the animal, don’t acquire it in the first place or put it up for adoption.
It is not a leap to make the association between cruelty to animals and violence towards people. In either case it takes a hardened heart and, in the worst cases, sociopathic tendencies. The sooner these traits are identified, the easier it is to protect not only our pets but also the humans who are supposed to know better.