Recently, Darrell Rawcliffe wrote in asking everyone to write to our MLA urging that domestic animal abusers be given stronger penalties, as are available under the law.
I wholeheartedly agree, and have used this column to say so in the past. The motivation to harm or torture a cat or dog is no different from that which leads these sick individuals to do the same to vulnerable human beings – the only difference being that animals can’t call for help. And if caught, these individuals generally tend to receive little more than a warning and possibly some hours of community service.
When NFL player Michael Vick was convicted of running a dog fighting circuit back in 2007, his three-year prison sentence was decried by many fans as being way too harsh. One can only assume – or hope – that these folks hadn’t stopped to consider the utter viciousness of this activity.
Until we can treat all life on this planet with respect, we will never be at peace.
And it isn’t just traditional cruelty or neglect that is in question, but how we view animals. Because they aren’t human, we treat them as property; we silently allow them to be used in horrific scientific experiments; we let them breed indiscriminately and then sell, give away or get rid of the excess progeny; we pretend we don’t know about the dog fights, crush videos and other horrible acts perpetrated on domestic animals for someone’s enjoyment.
And that’s just domestic animals. Let’s not talk about zoos and wild animals.
After the (Whistler) Sled Dog Task Force in 2011, in which 43 sled dogs were gunned down and disposed of because they were too expensive to keep after the Olympics were over, the government recommended increased penalties for animal cruelty – fines up to $75,000 and jail terms of up to two years.
Not that people charged with cruelty are likely to receive the maximum sentence. Most investigations result in animals being seized, and it ends there. The offender may be told they can’t own animals for a certain period of time. If they do and are caught, it’s back to court.
The BC SPCA carries out these investigations with 23 specially trained constables for the entire province. Is it enough? You decide.
About half of people who are eventually convicted of violent crimes admit to torturing cats, dogs and other pets when they were in their teens. Because they got away with that, they carried on.
Animal abuse is a societal problem. Abuse and violence of any sort is a problem and must not be tolerated.
Our court system has the laws that it needs to punish offenders, but nothing changes if they aren’t used.
Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal