Animal Appreciation Week and Cruelty to AnimalsPublished July 8, 2011
Flickr User netzanette
Unfortunately, almost every day we hear tragic stories of animals being cruelly treated and abused. The reaction from animal lovers are extreme rage at the perpetrator, and deep sorrow for the innocent creatures that suffer so horrendously, very often at the hands of those they trust to protect them.
While cruelty to animals is a crime in all 50 states, 47 states already have in place felony class laws for animal abuse, depending on the form of the abuse. For those found guilty--especially if the crime was intentional--penalties levied can be as high as 10 years imprisonment, often accompanied with fines which can be quite hefty.
In the three remaining states that consider animal abuse only a misdemeanor, penalties range from 6 months to 1 year imprisonment with fines imposed on the perpetrator. However, if the animal abused is a police animal in these states, the crime is considered a felony.
While those that commit these heinous acts must pay their debt to society, it seems that even the most severe punishments that may be considered to set an example don’t seem to be stemming the tide of what seems like the increasing number of these crimes being committed.
Yesterday I received an email asking me to sign a petition from change.org, concerning yet another heartbreaking story about a kitten, lovingly named “Little Heart.” Nearly stabbed and beaten savagely by a 12 year-old Virginia boy, the courageous action taken by another child knocked the knife from the hands of the abusing 12-year old, preventing further torture to the kitten. However, the kitten's leg was broken and, sadly, has passed away.
Since it’s unclear the torture caused the kitten's death, the perpetrator has been charged only with one misdemeanor count of cruelty. Although Virginia is a state where animal abuse is a felony, since the child that committed the crime is a minor, I am assuming this is the reason for the "lighter" sentence.
Since most of us are all familiar with Mahatma Gandhi's famous observation and quote, "the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals,” the idea presented on the petition deeply resonated with me. I was immediately compelled to not only share the petition (which I hope you will take a moment to sign), but also to express my support for the creation of an “Animal Appreciation Week,” where children can not only learn more about animals and the need for their protection, but how they contribute to our lives. Teaching children about service animals, guide dogs, police dogs and horses has the capability of greatly impacting young minds. Every week should be “Animal Appreciation Week” in every home.
And while a special week is just a finger to plug the dam, it is a beginning. At the very least it carries the message that animals are living beings and must be treated with kindness.
Visit change.org to sign the petition.
What other ideas do you have to help prevent cruelty to animals? Do share them in a comment.