Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Animal Abuse

Today I had anticipated blogging on love and relationships. However, perusing my local online newspaper, I came across a subject that I simply couldn’t get off my mind.


Most, if not all, of us have heard about Michael Vick’s conviction and incarceration for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring that tortured, maimed and killed dogs. And, his subsequent “reformation.”

But, do you know that felony animal-abuse incidents are occurring in your own home-town neighborhoods. Yes, the house next door. Where your kids play with their friends. Where you visit with neighbors, co-workers, and family members.

I was shocked, horrified and disgusted to read about an arrest of a 21 year old man who repeatedly sodomized his dog, a Whippet mix, so viciously that that animal services workers were forced to euthanize her. He pleaded no contest to animal cruelty charges and was sentenced to three years probation and forbidden to own animals.


No mandatory counseling? No charges of lewd and lascivious behavior? No charges of a sex crime? Simply because the victim was an animal???


According to Kathleen Kennedy, a spokesperson for the Orange County Animal Services Department, perpetrators of animal abuse have a five times higher rate of escalating into committing violent crimes.

Research also demonstrates a correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence.

I applaud The Cruelty Hurts campaign, launched last April by Orange County Animal Services. They have endeavored to develop cooperation between local law enforcement officers and have partnered with Central Florida Crimeline which actively prompts citizens to call their anonymous hotline. One tip lead to the discovery of a cock-fighting ring that was also harboring guns and illicit drugs. Another may have saved the life of a woman who was the victim of domestic violence. When officers arrived in her home to investigate a report of animal abuse, she was able to silently alert them to her own predicament by mouthing, “Help Me.” Which of course, they did. But if someone hadn’t picked up the phone to report suspected animal abuse, who knows what might have eventually happened to her.

I urge everyone to be aware of what’s happening around your home. Take walks through your neighborhood and get to know the people in your community. Check on those abandoned and foreclosed houses in your area to ensure that no animal was left behind. (Believe me, it happens every day. Our shelters are full of abandoned animals whose owners have moved out without them.)

And, please take animal cruelty seriously. Animal-abuse is a crime and can be prosecuted as a felony offense. Keep in mind that animal abusers often escalate to more violent crimes. You and your family could be at risk if an animal-abuser is allowed to continue that behavior unchallenged. Please don’t confront them yourself, as this could put you in harm’s way. Call your local crimeline and/or local law enforcement if you suspect someone of abusing or neglecting an animal.

Encourage community leaders, representative, congressmen, senators, and even our President to develop stronger and better measures for dealing with animal-abusers. Mandatory counseling for anger issues is a good place to start. And in cases where sex acts have been perpetrated upon animals, sexual behavior counseling seems a good idea.

Animals cannot defend themselves against such violence. It’s up to us to stand in the gap. Be an advocate and make your neighborhood a safe haven for all.

**Check out the article “Animal-abuse crackdown helps fight other crimes” by Kate Santich at

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