The discussion of what to do about animal abuse came into my experience several times and the question of how to end it is something I’ve been thinking about because there must be a way, we just haven’t hit upon it yet.
Stricter laws and fines are starting to become more prevalent, even jail time, which may be a justified way of making one accountable for their actions. But does it fix the problem? I’m guessing few formerly incarcerated individuals return to their released lives with a more gentile outlook on the world and society. If anything they are possibly angrier and that cannot be good for anyone or anything.
We can probably all agree that a person who abuses an animal is not in their ‘right mind’ or how could they visit such suffering on another living creature? We also know from studies that the majority of animal abusers eventually escalate to more violent acts and their progression is not necessarily deterred by a side trip to jail. They simply pick up where they left off. So that is not the answer, or at least not the complete answer. If we conclude they need psychiatric help why is it not required and provided? Would it not be more beneficial to require a psychiatric evaluation and follow up treatment in order to stem the tide of repeated abuse? At least we would have a shot at stopping the inevitable escalation of violence that will surely befall some living creature when the individual is released from prison. I’m sure there would be some violent persons who are unwilling or unable to change their thought processes and they are responsible for their choices, they should be removed from society. But to those who are willing and able to change their perception, won’t they be better members of our communities because of it?
Part of me wants to go over and just pummel the day lights out of some of these abusers…but that response will not save the suffering of another animal. And isn’t that what we all want, to put an end to animal abuse and the abuse of any innocent individual? I’m not saying anyone should get a ‘free pass’, but our current response to animal abuse is a bandage. It doesn’t rehabilitate or expose the perpetrator to a different way of seeing and empathizing which may lead to an end of violent acts.
And if psychiatric counseling isn’t the answer, we need to explore a different protocol that does help create a better human being. Somewhere in the vast and glorious knowledge that is science, there must be an intelligent way to bring a person to the point of empathy, to the realization that the individual who does these types of abuse are doing so because of what they lack in self-esteem. If one cannot see they themselves have worth, it is difficult to ask that person to see the worth in another. The ‘pooh rolls downhill’ effect. ‘I hurt so know you’re going to hurt’ is something we see every day in normal interactions with our peers, family and animal companions; it is just not in its extreme form. How many times have we heard from someone that they didn’t mean to snap at us, but they are just having a bad day? The feelings of justification are the same but the degree of reaction is not. Taking out our frustration on the unsuspecting and the undeserving is not new in our society.
What we currently do in response does not keep our animals safe. Nor does it keep anyone safe for that matter. We want to punish, have our retribution. An abuser certainly must be held accountable but if we can, in the process, create a better human being aren’t we all going to win? Wouldn’t that more likely end the abuse of the innocent? As in Holistic medicine, isn’t it better to go to the root of the problem and extinguish the response, rather than treat the symptom?
I like to end my writings on a high note, but this subject is a bit harder to lift. But there is progress being made in the ethical treatment of animals, in how we manage their diseases with treatment and what we accept about them. At one time, not too many years ago, many of things we now consider reasonable responses were thought to be insanity. It was unheard of to do chemo and radiation of a cherished pet suffering from cancer. If the dog had emotional issues they were solved behind the barn with a gun, not a canine behaviorist. And if an animal did not fit into the household, he was sent to the shelter. The ethical treatment of animals has even spread into the grocery with free range eggs, ‘good life’ milk and other similar products as society continues to evolve into a more caring community.
We are making progress. We are not all going in the same direction, but many individuals are making pointed efforts to do what is ethically correct when it comes to our companions and all animals. These individuals will create a minority that someday will create a majority. And the thought of that day, makes this a good place for me to end my ponderings I suppose.