The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

January 19, 2013

Maleah Stringer: Combating animal abuse is critical

We have an overwhelming problem in Madison County; it is called animal abuse. We can try to pretend it away, as we have been doing for years. But it has not gone away, it has only escalated.

We received a call Saturday at the Animal Protection League. One of our volunteers found a Pit Bull tied to the railroad track at 14th and Fairview while they were out walking their own dog. Had a train come — and they do come quiet frequently at that spot — the dog could not have gotten away and would have been obliterated by an oncoming train.

Imagine that dog’s terror as the shriek of the train drew neared and the dog’s struggle increased. What a horrible way to kill another living creature. It takes a special brand of evil to do this.

What is disconcerting is that the person or persons are still walking among us in our community. We have no idea who did it.

This dog is beautiful, affectionate and non-aggressive. It has been well cared for and, from the way it acts, well loved. But no one has called about this dog, no one has come looking for their pet.

Three dogs were brought into the Animal Protection League by a landlord on Monday. They were emaciated and sick. The owners had moved and left them locked up in the house. They left their fish to die as well. The landlord did not know for sure how long the animals had been abandoned, at least a week, possibly more.

We have backyard breeders breeding Pit Bulls at an alarming rate. There are no regulations, no permits. No one knows for sure where these puppies end up. An educated guess would be dog fighting — which is a felony. But many insist that we do not have a dog fighting problem in our county.

 Victims of domestic violence report that often their pets are abused and or killed by their abuser as a way to control them. These same perpetrators of abuse target not only the animals in the family but their ultimate goal — the people — women and children.

Experts agree that it is a short distance indeed between people who abuse animals and people who commit crimes involving humans. Combating animal abuse and taking it seriously saves not only animals but humans as well; so it is worth the effort. It’s not just a dog as some people might say.

Animal abuse legislation is written so loosely that it is very difficult to actually convict an animal abuser. Even if it does go to trial the punishment is a mere slap on the wrist. People who abuse animals have little if any empathy for other living creatures and that includes humans. Studies show that children who grow up with animals being abused in their home are desensitized to the suffering of others. They have little if any compassion.

 How a society treats its animals is a reflection of its humanity. It is a barometer of our compassion, our morals and our spirituality. It speaks as to how we treat our children, our elderly and those in our communities who do not have a voice. So once again what are we willing to allow? If you think animal abuse only affects humans — think again.

Maleah Stringer is executive director of the Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson. She can be reached at 356-0900 or at maleahstringer@aol.com.

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