Maybe it’s because I’m so laser-focused on the subject, but it seems to me that we’re seeing more and more cases of animal cruelty – and with the trend, more cases relating animal cruelty to domestic violence.
No recent story makes the connection more than the Associated Press article from Thursday, where a Georgia man reportedly stomped the family dog to death and then used it’s dead body to beat his wife.
Up in Connecticut, a man has been charged with animal cruelty after witnesses saw him beating a Jack Russell terrier before a failed attempt to throw the dog off a highway overpass. Fortunately for the dog, his collar hooked on a spike on the fence, preventing a fall into the traffic below.
The Valley Independent Sentinel reports police had “responded to a domestic dispute involving Rosario within the last 24 hours.”
I can’t help but think one primary reason for the level of both domestic violence and acts of animal cruelty in this country is the slap-on-the-wrist punishment abusers routinely receive. The message I’m getting says our federal government, state governments and the criminal justice system across the board considers acts of abuse to women, children and animals to be a lesser offense.
If advocates for victims of domestic violence and animal-welfare advocates see current laws as being very weak, it doesn’t take a social scientist to understand what criminals must think of system. Even repeat offenders know they’ll get nothing more than a short stay in the slammer before heading back home to wreck more abuse on the family or other innocent beings.
What are the judges saying to these people? – ‘You bad, bad person. This is fourth time you’ve severely assaulted your family. This time you’re going to pay. I guess a month in jail with free food and medical care will teach you a lesson?’
And do our elected officials across the board think a few weeks at most away from the abuse is good enough for the victims?
An editorial from Fairfax Times out of Virginia (published Friday) rightfully calls for more bite from animal abuse laws.
The piece includes these important facts –
A recent study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Northeastern University found 70 percent of animal abusers had committed at least one other crime. Almost 40 percent had committed violent crimes against people.
Equally troubling is more than 80 percent of family members being treated for child abuse also had abused animals. In two-thirds of those cases, an abusive parent had killed or injured a pet. In one-third, a child victim continued the cycle of violence by abusing a pet.
It is long past time for increased penalties for violent crimes – committed against people and animals.