Here's something similar to what we were talking about this weekend...I have such great conversations with friends.
http://www.internationalstafford.com/ma ... 01_15.html
From: "David Levy" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Helen Park" <email@example.com>
Subject: A very interesting article
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 22:29:19 +0100
Proposed law would make pet abuse a felony
Josephine Marcotty / Star Tribune
Rachel Bandy has spent most of her career fighting family violence, first as a police officer and now as head of Minnesota's domestic-and sexual-violence program.
But recently she appeared before a legislative panel in support of a bill that raises the penalties for violence against another family member -- the pet dog or cat.
Violence against pets is "a huge red flag that someone is ready to graduate to human abuse," said Bandy, director of the state Department of Public Safety's division of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The bill reflects the growing recognition that anyone who tortures an animal "has something wrong with them that needs to be addressed," said Robert Lockwood of the Humane Society of the United States.
Pet and animal torture is also frequently seen in the early behaviors of rapists and serial killers,
and is a common thread in the histories of many teenagers convicted in school shootings as well. It is one of the three factors the FBI looks for in the childhood histories of psychopaths. The others are fire-setting and bed-wetting.
Pet abuse of any kind in Minnesota now is only a misdemeanor, regardless of how appalling, with a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. That means, said supporters of the bill, that crimes against animals often go unreported or aren't prosecuted.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill last week, and the House is expected to vote soon. It's similar to laws on the books in 34 states. If passed, it would make intentional torture of a pet or companion animal, such as a seeing-eye dog, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. But most important to many who work with violent adults is the option the law would give to judges to impose counseling and psychological assessment.
"To the extent that we can stop the escalation of violence, this is a good piece of legislation," said John Kingrey, executive director of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association. "It's a proactive piece of legislation."
Nancy Minion, a supporter of the bill and founder of Second Chance Animal Refuge, said it's taken the animal-protection and other groups five years to get the law this far in the legislative process. It's been thwarted in past sessions by hunting and agriculture groups fearful that a law would restrict accepted hunting and agricultural practices.
So this year the bill addresses only pets and assistance dogs, not animals in general, and there has been little opposition. The law would not cover livestock, game animals or even wild animals that have been adopted as pets, because that isn't legal anyway, Minion said. Nor would it cover animals slaughtered as part of religious ceremonies, she said.
That means, for example, that farmers can still castrate livestock without pain medication, Orthodox Jews can slaughter livestock by bleeding them to death, and hunters can shoot deer and not be subject to any penalties, supporters said.
"Anything that is lawful now is still lawful under the bill," she said.
Yet, clearly society is of two minds when it comes to treatment of animals, said Lockwood, who is vice president of research and education for the Humane Society of the United States. But the focus of the Minnesota bill and others like it is "the intentional cruelty and intentional infliction of pain, behavior that is clearly at odds with what civilized society expects and is willing to tolerate," he said.
Based on past history, there might be as many as 12 pet-abuse cases a year in Minnesota severe enough to be charged as felonies, said Keith Streff, an investigator for the Humane Society of Minnesota who has worked on behalf of the bill. Although such cases are rare, photographs that document those he's investigated show stunning acts of cruelty.
A man bludgeoned his neighbor's dog to death -- while the owner watched -- because it had defecated on the neighbor's property, Streff said. A puppy's throat was partly slit in a failed euthanasia attempt. Other pictures showed the frozen, starved carcasses of dogs tied to a back porch and a horse that was dragged at high speed behind a truck because the owner thought it was too slow.
He also tells of phone calls he gets from abused women describing how their boyfriends or husbands have killed and buried the family cat or dog
. But under current statutes, there's not much that law-enforcement officers can do about violence against pets, he said.
"It gets back to the old cliche -- there ought to be a law," he said.
In some situations, the intended victim is the animal. That is particularly true in cases in which children or teenagers abuse animals. However, said experts, that's because the kids themselves are often victims of adult abuse of some kind.
"Show me a kid who is harming an animal, I'll show you a kid that is probably being harmed," said Mic Hunter, a St. Paul psychologist and family therapist.
Pets in the crossfire
In domestic abuse, however, even though an animal may get hurt, the intended victim is usually a family member, experts said. The threat to the pet is often used as leverage.
"If you put a person's child or pet in harm's way, you can pretty much get whatever you want out of them," Bandy said.
That emotional ties to pets can be leveraged to such an extent reveal how strong they can be. The proposed bill in a sense legitimizes that bond, experts said, and shows how pets can affect people's lives.
Hunter described the case of a woman who had grown up in a violent and sexually abusive family, and who could not develop intimate or trusting relationships as a result.
"She had no idea that there were people who didn't" abuse others, he said. "I invited her to get a pet so she could learn to bond with it."
She found a cat and grew very attached to it, he said. She even allowed it to sleep in her bedroom with her. It was the first time she'd ever had someone in her bedroom who was not a sexual abuser, he said.
When her boyfriend hit her, Hunter asked her how she would feel if he had done it to her cat. She said she might feel like killing him, Hunter said.
One day the boyfriend lifted up the cat and threatened to throw it across the room, Hunter said, and that was all it took -- the woman left him.
-- Josephine Marcotty is at <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com .The pet abuse bill is posted on the Minnesota House Web site, <http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us>http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us.
An informed victim is an empowered victim enroute to recovery.