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Other instances of neglect are simply out of control and more serious indicators of abuse whether or not they are unintentional. Emma Regina Harter kept more than 230 Chihuahuas and 60 birds at her Antelope Valley home. She was convicted of felony animal cruelty. Animal control officers found these poor animals living in filthy conditions on her California ranch. Over 20 of dogs were already dead and 14 of them were "so severely medically impaired" that they were euthanized, according to Deputy District Attorney. Her crime carries a potential sentence of 5-1/2 years.
Intentional cruelty such as violence or torture against animals is a likely indication of a serious disorder and a predictor of such behavior against humans. In fact, many serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer spent their childhoods torturing animals. Ted Bundy mutilated animals as a child before killing dozens of women. Jeffrey Dahmer killed neighborhood pets, nailed frogs on trees and impaled heads of dogs on sticks.
Animal abusers come young and they come old. Harter, also referred to as “Granny Animal Abuser” was 72 years old at time of her conviction. Margaret Mead, renowned anthropologist, remarked that "one of most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it." Instilling compassionate values and empathy, particularly in children, seems to be a means of countering potential animal abuse and ultimately such abuse in adults. Project Pooch is a good example of this effort. Project Pooch pairs selected juvenile offenders incarcerated at Oregon Youth Authority's MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility with rescued dogs from animal shelters. Their program trains youths to obedience train and prepare dogs for adoption. “By managing their dogs, students learn how to manage their own behavior. They also earn school credits, develop good work habits, and acquire valuable occupational skills.” Project Pooch may be found at http://www.pooch.org . .
Long considered mere banter among animal enthusiasts, animal cruelty is fortunately taken much more seriously nowadays among lawmakers, public health and law enforcement officials. Several states give judges discretionary authority to order animal abusers to undergo psychiatric counseling. Bills in various states reflect numerous measures to prevent acts of animal abuse and include actions that advocate such matters as cross-reporting among child protection professionals and animal control officers; banning cockfighting; and making aggravated animal abuse a felony. Animal abuse has even received noted attention at federal level. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recognizes animal-abuse/human violence link and actually incorporates animal cruelty into its assessment of potential threat a suspect might pose to society. FBI Special Agent Allan Brantley has underscored FBI’s reasoning by stating that "Animal cruelty...is not a harmless venting of emotion in a healthy individual; this is a warning sign...." It isn’t too hard to see how public awareness and appreciation of contributions animals make to human world and our contributions to theirs can assist so much in well-being of both. Hopefully, animal rights will no longer be limited to domain of vegetarians or pet enthusiasts. More than a “quirky” or “quaint” obsession, preserving dignity and respect that animals deserve has far reaching repercussions for humans in general. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with also wanting a little purr in your ear or wet lick on your face. Copyright 2004. Sophistication Alley Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
The author fosters rescued animals and helps operate pet related sites including Adoring Pets at www.AdoringPets.com which helps to instill compassionate values and empathy towards animals by showcasing Assistance Animals, Therapy and Companion Pets; www.SundayColors.com a discount gift store; www.HandsnPaws.com a pet travel store with pet travel accessories and www.Pawstogo.com an everyday pet supply store with common pet problem solutions.