Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Much at Stake in Stopping Animal Cruelty

By LAURA SCOTT lascott@kcstar.com.

The grand jury indictment of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has focused attention on the grisly underground activity of dog-fighting.

The federal charges are a reminder that animal abuse of a horrific nature, even if prohibited by law, goes on all too often. Some people even call it “sport.” It attracts money, drugs, and gambling, all bathed in the blood of animals who have been trained, tortured and abused to get them to go after other dogs until the death.

The Vick charges represent the extreme of animal cruelty. That’s why the details make us squirm uncomfortably. If the charges are true, the ways losing dogs were dispensed with indicate terribly sick individuals, one of whom has been held up as an athletic role model.

Other people copy celebrities. They think it is cool to have a dog that they train (or mistreat) so it will be vicious or frightening or tough. It is a status symbol. Such thinking can create dangerous owners who disregard or are lax about neighbors’ safety.

Children, too, learn from those they admire that cruelty is part of an acceptable culture. Children often are observers at dog fights, for instance. Little imitations of the big money-making operations take place throughout America on the streets of cities, where young people in gangs like to pit dogs at each other.

Abuse of animals is linked to child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse. Children who observe a parent’s cruelty against an animal or who live in a home where violence is the norm grow up conditioned to that sort of way of treating others. Animal torturers often breed others like them.

Serial killers and violent offenders often were animal torturers when they were young. They graduated to people later.

the photos posted have been picked randomly and do not necessarily represent pictures of Vick or his dogs.

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