Let's All Commit To Proverbs 12:10
Published: November 27th, 2019
By: Joe Angelino

The ultimate act of an animal’s desperation and self-preservation is to gnaw off one’s limb to survive. That image is gruesome and if your mind’s eye conjured up a fur-bearing wild animal in a backwoods trap, you’re wrong.

The desperate animal in this instance is a female German shepherd who was tied outside and ignored, at her owner’s home near Cooperstown. Thankfully, an alert and conscientious package delivery man was able to intervene. His actions helped get the dog to treatment and assisted the police in charging the owner with animal cruelty. This was only one case of many in the news recently.

Why anyone would take responsibility for another living thing and allow it, or even cause it to live in misery is beyond my comprehension, and I’m getting fed up hearing about it. The people who knowingly torment an animal are sick, demented criminals who need inpatient treatment then sent to prison. But that’s seldom the case with our current criminal justice system.

People sometimes find themselves in situations where they can barely feed their families, much less a pet. In most of those situations, even people of dubious morals will find a family member, friend or organization that will look after their animals. If a person’s time, compassion and resources are limited, it might be best to not take responsibility for an animal in the first place. It’s not just dogs and cats needing guardian angels, but livestock and farm animals also.

Our rural area experiences far too much animal abuse and neglect, and what’s even more concerning is the geography of our rural area conceals some of these heinous acts. When an animal abuser is exposed and arrested, some people read the news and are repulsed and sickened by the cruelty, while others work hard to hold back their urge to meet the perpetrator outside town court with a baseball bat. Everyone’s emotions run high when animal abuse is uncovered.

It is well known that people who abuse animals are also violent towards people. Normally, a claim of that nature in one of these columns will be accompanied by a citation or source document for proof, but not this time. We all know this is true and some of us suspect someone right now.

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According to the Humane Society of the United States, pet abuse is a direct predictor of family violence, usually toward a spouse. Researchers found that over 70 percent of women entering domestic violence shelters report their partners also abused or killed a family pet. Another study of troubled children who abused animals found they are at greater risk to become criminals as adults and are likely to end up in prison. Who among us can’t come up with a name or two from childhood?

These grim studies highlight the need for all of us to report suspected animal abuse promptly because we are the voice for these animals. The response and investigation should be just as timely. Law enforcement officers don’t like to respond to animal neglect complaints because the whole situation is complex and difficult. Additionally, the police don’t receive near enough training on this type of crime. In a police response to child abuse, the officers know exactly what to do, up to and including removing the child from the home. But in animal cases, the fact our laws consider animals as property, taking an animal from the owner gets murky.

The police need more training in order to be comfortable enforcing animal cruelty and neglect laws. Last year, the Chenango County Farm Bureau sponsored a seminar for local police on the topic of animal cruelty and abuse - a first in my decades in law enforcement experience. Courses such as that should be mandatory for every basic police recruit academy in New York.

I overheard incredulous comments made one time about the difficulty in adopting a pet from the local SPCA; people couldn’t believe there were background checks and possibly a future unannounced home visit to check the adopted animal’s welfare. No one should be surprised at the lengths the SPCA will go to protect an animal – it’s right there in their name; Prevention of Cruelty, and they do their best to protect their adoptees. We can all do something to help protect these animals, even if it’s only a prayer and a reminder of Proverbs 12:10.