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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Dream For A Better World

I have a dream.

My dream is that some day, the killing of millions of dogs and cats will be no more. Some day, there will be no need to 'put to sleep' millions of animals simply because no one wants them. Some day, every dog and cat will be cherished and loved. We will cease to view them as throw-away objects, to be disposed of when they become 'too big' or 'too much trouble' or 'too old.' We will no longer view them as sources of income, as cash crops, by using them to mass produce still more puppies. We will view them as companions, not to be chained to a dog house or kept in a kennel, lonely and forgotten. We will never make animals fight for our entertainment and profit, and no animals will ever be tortured by being used as 'bait' to whet the blood lust of dogs trained to fight. Animals will no longer be abused to get revenge on a former spouse or partner.

We will deal with those who abuse animals with severe punishments, rather than the all-too-common slap on the wrist and a warning not to do that again. In my dream world, those who deliberately abuse an animal will be punished with a punishment that fits the crime. Political correctness will give way to serious treatment of animal abusers. There will be no tolerance for abuse of animals, children, spouses or the elderly. It simply will not be tolerated. Should it occur, it will be dealt with harshly. Society will accept no excuses about how the perpetrator came from a dysfunctional family or was unloved or grew up in a culture that saw nothing wrong with abuse. The cycle of abuse needs to stop, and NOW.

In my dream world, district attorneys and judges will treat abuse for the serious crime it is. They will recognize it as a common precursor to the murder of humans. Anti-cruelty laws will be strengthened and enforced. Children who abuse animals will be sentenced to mandatory psychological help. Adults who abuse will be dealt with severely. Abused children and animals will NOT be returned to the custody of their abusers.

People who abuse others have serious psychological problems, whether they be psychogenic or drug-induced. Those problems will not get better on their own. They require treatment. For those who refuse treatment, the only other option available will be serous jail time.

Rather than getting better, the problem of animal abuse appears to be getting worse. Take Patrick, a red pit bull found hours from death. He had been starved for weeks on end, so weak he couldn't even lift his head. His body temperature was so low it didn't register on a thermometer. He was stuffed into a trash bag and thrown down the garbage chute of a 22-story apartment building in New Jersey. Fortunately for Patrick, a custodian saw movement in the bag, opened it, and Patrick is now on the long road to recovery. His alleged abuser has been identified and arrested. Her claim? She "couldn't take care of" the dog.

Patrick's story has galvanized people around the world. To date, his Facebook page has more than 75,000 'likes' and that number grows every minute. A new group, Patrick's Law, has formed to advocate for stronger anti-cruelty laws and especially for stronger punishments. Another group, Patrick's Pals, provides an on-line site to publicize the plight of dogs on death row in shelters across the country.

Perhaps Patrick's unspeakable torture had a greater purpose -- to galvanize people to demand stronger penalties for animal abusers. Patrick continues on his long road to recovery, buoyed by the well-wishes of tens of thousands of people he will never meet. Perhaps Patrick has started us on the first of many steps to making this dream a reality.