Mind Matters — Pets to People

My dilemma for this week: write about violent acts to dogs or to people? Or maybe not write about violence and cruelty at all. After all, despite the daily reports of horrific acts of domestic abuse, urban violence, international wars and bombings, most of us manage to put one foot in front of the other without demolishing each other.

So, given how many billions of us there are, isn’t it remarkable that we have not blown ourselves off the face of the earth already. (Assuredly there are enough weapons of mass destruction lying around just in the US alone to do the job.) That said: that we, in the main, feed our good nature rather than our basest possibilities, I will now proceed to explore violent behaviors to both animals and humans because these behaviors are inherently connected.

Last week there was much dismay about two dogs who were, it appears, executed. Upon reading about this, my first reaction was that this didn’t sound so much like an act of sadistic and wanton behavior as it was perhaps an angry vendetta against the dog owner for some “reason” or grievance, in other words, a deplorable act, but with a motive. Now—please—I have no shred of evidence; I merely speculate. (However, I also had a hunch several months ago about the mother who claimed she was kidnapped and said she was calling from her cell phone while trapped in the trunk of a car. I don't recall all the details about her, her child, and her fictitious African-American abductors. However, I do remember in reading this story that my antennae went wonkers with, “Lady, you lie, this is a major hoax.” Sure enough, she was lying and it was a hoax.)

Actually, I do hope my hunch about the dogs’ deaths is accurate because I believe the alternative could depict a far darker possibility. Sadistic and cruel treatment of animals, just for the warped pleasure of it, can precede violence against humans. Such serial animal abuse can be a precursor: Jeffrey Dahmer supposedly inflicted cruelty upon animals before he went on to his human victims.

I recall many years ago (not here) seeing an adolescent for therapy. The hair on the nape of my neck stood up when he began to talk about what he did to animals. Soon after, I moved out of the area and did not hear anymore about the outcome of this sad teen. But he certainly aroused concern in me about what he would have been capable of.

So my concern regarding violence against animals has a larger context. That is, what does it portend regarding violence against humanity. Furthermore, there is a bitter irony. We need to take note that there were laws against abuse and cruelty to animals long before there were any laws against abuse to children. Our culture still can have a skewed sense of priority. Yes, we need to see the interconnection of all life.

However, that interconnection does not only mean concern for pets in the neighborhood, but also for the children who die hungry every day, a seeming world away. Before I had children over thirty years ago, my dogs were my children. Giving birth, my priorities changed.

Perhaps we need to put this shocking incident in perspective. While deploring such a violent act against two pets, we also need to deplore violence in all its forms and where ever it occurs.