We all know the story of Michael Vick. A man who decided it was not only okay, but also entertaining, to torture and kill numerous dogs. In light of his case bringing animal abuse to the nation’s attention, I would like to touch on why it’s very important for us as a nation to crack down on animal abusers and make their punishments more severe. Many people will argue with me that animals should not have the same legal protections as humans, but I believe that the law should have the same penalties for those who harm animals as those who harm children.
There is the case of Phoenix, a one-year-old pit bull terrier soaked in gasoline and set afire on May 27, 2009 by twin brothers Tremayne and Travers Johnson, 17. Phoenix was euthanized in caring hands after her kidneys failed. Swollen and charred, her immune system simply couldn’t handle burns covering over 95% of her body. http://bit.ly/1vLC51
Then there is the most recent case of Buddy, a shepherd/blue heeler mix who was stolen from his home, tied to a truck, and dragged around for 30 minutes until he finally died. Steven Clay Romero, 37, is in custody and does not understand why he is being punished nor has he been able to offer the police any kind of motive for his actions. http://bit.ly/4YJJuv
People who are capable of this kind of torture towards another living being are so desensitized to suffering, they ignored the cries of another living creature being torn apart in a dog fight, enveloped in flames, or being dragged to death.
Unfortunately, the felony animal cruelty penalties only include up to three years in prison and most who are sentenced rarely see more than a few months in prison if at all. Why should we care? Because those who harm animals are exponentially more likely to move on to harming humans.
Columbine’s Eric Harris, D.C. serial killer Lee Boyd Malvo, murderer Kip Kinkle and others “practiced” on animals before graduating to people. Andrew Golden, 11, and Mitchell Johnson, 13, killed dogs in Jonesboro, Arkansas prior to gunning down four students and one teacher. Mississippi 16-year-old Luke Woodham mortally stabbed his mother, killed three classmates and shot seven more. Later in court, he confessed to bludgeoning his dog with baseball bats and setting her on fire.
One U.S. study revealed that five of 11 killers involved in nine separate school rampages had formerly abused animals. In another study, “Childhood Cruelty Toward Animals Among Criminals and Noncriminals,” 25% of aggressive criminals confessed to five or more acts of torturing animals.
Clearly, the animal-to-human violence link demands our utmost attention. We need to empower animal control officers under the police department and advocate prosecution in all animal abuse and fighting cases. We need to stiffen laws to better protect companion animals. We need to require convicted animal abusers to register with their local police just like those who harm children must when they relocate.
These individuals are incapable of compassion, whether it’s a rat, a dog, or a child. Not only will these laws better protect companion animals from torture and unnecessary death, it will also help us identify mentally sick people who need to either be closely monitored and/or completely kept away from society.