A quote from Dr Doug James, who rescued a puppy from being tortured by a gang of teens near his home in Alabama:
“I heard the noise down the street, I heard the little puppy yelping. They were slapping him around, a little three-month-old puppy. Slap, slap, slap. All of a sudden he just burst into flames and I went running down there yelling, I thought how could anybody be that cold blooded,” he said. “He was totally on fire. They had squirted his face with lighter fluid and his whole body was on fire. I said, ‘Did you burn that dog?’ Of course it was obvious that they did, the poor puppy was on fire.”
While it can be said that not all perpetrators of animal cruelty are children and teenagers, sadly, this age group counts towards a high percentage of those who think nothing of harming an innocent animal, and this is something that urgently needs addressing.
The law regarding animal abuse varies from state to state in America - some places imposing jail sentences to abusers, others proving to be too lenient, believing that a metaphoric slap on the wrist is enough punishment for the offence.
In poorer countries around the world, many people turn a blind eye to the cruel treatment of pets, strays, and farm animals, so with absolutely no one to speak out on behalf of these animals, their fate seems somewhat grim.
But in modern countries, there is something that can be done which may increase awareness of cruelty cases, and could even lead to the law eventually being changed in favor of tougher sentences for those found guilty of hurting or abandoning an animal.
Animal welfare, and awareness of animal cruelty, should be taught in all schools. From a young age, children should be aware of the repercussions from purposefully injuring an animal, as well as the proper way in which to care for, hold, and pet an animal. There is also potential for this to reduce the number of incidents involving children being bitten by family dogs - learning that pinching, pulling, and tormenting a dog, can be dangerous, and is also cruel. Field trips to animal sanctuaries, veterinary clinics, and shelters, would all prove extremely beneficial, especially if those attending are able to see for themselves just how many animals out there are abandoned, abused, and neglected.
Responsibility cannot be left solely to the parents to teach their children that abusing an animal is wrong, because different families have different beliefs about what constitutes 'cruelty'. One man may think it's perfectly OK to hit his dog with a rolled-up newspaper, while another may think this is an act of abuse. By educating children from a young age, it then becomes their responsibility to pass on that knowledge to those around them, including their own families, and be proactive in protecting innocent animals from the terrible abuse and suffering that we see so much of today.
Children are our future, and by starting education early on, those same children may grow up to be influential people who may just set the wheels in motion to enforce stricter penalties for animal abusers, make breed-specific legislations a thing of the past, and put an end to puppy mills and breeders who often keep dogs in squalid conditions, abandoning the animal when it can no longer make them money.