Animal abuse is the single most disturbing part of society. Statistics show how this kind of violence is detrimental to the well-being of society as a whole. Psychologists have long linked those who abuse animals with deeper more sinister crimes. Kids who start abusing defenseless animals usually progress into more aggressive crimes. Social services, health professionals, and educators use such behavior to diagnose kids with antisocial personalities. The FBI criminalists look for backgrounds of animal abuse when profiling serial murderers. More than 80 percent of children rescued from abuse also detailed a history of their abusers active violence against animals. In a 1997 study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Northeastern University, 70 percent of animal abusers were also responsible for other crimes, 40 percent were of violent nature. Law punishing those who injure an animal have not kept up with the violent nature of the crime. However, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has joined the rest of America by enacting a bill that will make all animal abuse in the state a felony. Now all 50 states label such crimes of abuse against animals as a major crime.
Animal rights activists have been fighting for this small step for decades. Tens of thousands of animals are abused nationwide annually, and these are only cases that have been reported. Of the 37 thousand cases of abuse in 2010, less than 17 thousand survived. Many of those animals have life long injuries that have changed their world forever. These statistics don’t incorporate all of the cases of hoarding and abandonment, most of these numbers are of a far more violent nature. One of the most famous cases of animal abuse was the Michael Vic dog fighting ring. Social media blasted him for a short time after it was discovered that he hung dogs from trees by their throats, beat dogs within an inch of their lives, and buried hundred of dogs he killed, some still alive, in his own back yard. The punishment he received was so minimal that he is back to playing professional football, making millions of dollars, and starting a clothing line for all to enjoy. The idea that the entire United States justice system now recognizes the importance of classifying animal abuse as a felony is a very small step in balancing the crime with the punishment.
Society as a whole has yet to embrace the importance of criminalizing animal abuse. The more mental health professionals learn about what makes up the mentality and personality of an animal abuser, the more important it is that to know who is capable of such monstrosities. Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “The single most dangerous thing you can do to a child is know they tortured or killed an animal and let them get away with it.” Some health professionals feel that if you can catch an animal abuser before their crimes escalate there could be hope for saving them from a life behind bars. Animal abusers don’t just become thieves or bullies, but in many reported cases they go on to become rapists, child abusers, and murders. Sadly, many Americans have known an animal abuser and stayed silent.
The Human Society of the United States created the First Strike campaign aimed at stopping violent animal abusers. And the Lantham Foundation offers services to parents and educators to break the cycle of violence against animals. It is detrimental to a society that has become numb to violence all around. Turning a blind eye to animal abuse isn’t “staying out of other people’s business,” keeping silence on such abuse is risking the protection of the community from future violence. Making animal abuse a felony in all 50 states is a nationwide advancement in making the world a better place.
Opinion by Kimberly Beller