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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/11/13

We Are Failing Our Companion Animals

Message Suzana Megles
If ever there was a need to teach compassion in our schools
the time is now.  When I was a youngster in the 40's living
in a cluster of homes built primarily by Slovak immigrants,
I don't believe I ever heard anything like what I am hearing
today re animal cruelty.
Our parents were strict but kind and fair.  We toed the line -
something I find increasingly lacking with today's kids. Am
I being fair?  I don't know- but if you check Facebook re all
the torture of small animals found there, you may agree. However,
not all the abusers are "kids."  There are plenty of adult
animal abusers as well, but it is more than likely they
started early in life torturing animals.  
What are the reasons for this?  Re young abusers, I personally
believe that there is just too much violence on TV and in the
violent video games they play.  In my opinion, this can't be 
psychologically healthy.  I also believe we fail to teach
children compassion  in our homes, schools, and churches. 
Alison Mello of Iowa hoped that she could recruit the help
of Senator Rahall of W.Virginia to introduce "Toby's" Law
in Congress. At least that's the impression I got from reading
some of the links.  I also noted that the petition has been closed.
Perhaps the Senator could not help in this matter.  But here
is the reason why Alison hoped he could. 
What happened to little five month-old Toby in 2007 has been
resurrected on Facebook again this year.  His story should make
the parents who raised those 3 boys who tortured this innocent
little dog bow their heads in shame.  They failed to teach them
to be kind and loving to this little dog who did them no harm.
Toby's story:  On August 30th, 2007 Deanna wrote on the internet:
"Three teenage boys, 12, 14 and 16 years old in Guadalupe County,
TX got their sick twisted jollies off of torturing a small dog
to death!  This crime is just beyond horrific."
One day they just nonchalantly walked into a neighbor's yard and
stole her little lovable Pomeranian mix puppy.  (Please go to the
internet if you want to see this sweet puppy's face.)  They took
him to an abandandoned house and threw him out of a second story
window again and again until his legs were broken.  Then they
strung him up by his broken legs and began beating him like a
pinata with a wooden board embedded with nails. Then these monsters
lit his genitals on fire. One of them then took a pocketknife 
and started to cut Toby's throat.  Finally, his torture was over
and he died. 
I thought if I wanted to finish this post now, it should be enough
to really upset anyone with an ounce of compassion.  But I am
sure you want to know what happened to these monsters.
A neighbor alerted the police re some suspicious activity.  Too
bad, that they had not interrupted this "suspicious" activity. 
They might have saved Toby from some torture.

These cruel kids knew they were guilty of wrong-doing, but do you
think that they would have at least admitted to what they did?  Not
only cruel, but cowards as well. Not until the police found the
tortured and mutilated body of poor Toby did it become evident what
these cruel youth were capable of.  The three teens were arrested
and were being held on charges of animal cruelty resulting in death.
I was very disappointed in one account I read about the lack of
justice for Toby. At one link the prosecutor said that the boys
were just children and they were sentenced with mercy because
of their ages.  Where was the mercy they showed Toby?  Incredible,
just incredible how lacking in good judgment and justice. 
In another account,  Nan Udell, an assistant Guadalupe County attorney,
said that it was one of the saddest cases she has had to prosecute. 
She noted "This is a crime of power over something that is helpless."
She predicted that all three teens would most likely be sent to the
Texas Youth Commission until they are 19 years old. 
What finally happened to these 3 cruel youths I am not certain of.
But what I am certain is that it is too bad that while Toby's Law
is not on the Congressional Docket, it should be at least introduced
into law in Texas. This is what I found re its intent:
  "Toby's Law would state that no child, minor, or underage person
should be given immunity from punishment in the event of causing
willful harm, torment, or emotional anguish to a domesticated animal,
wild animal, or livestock.  The same is to be said for any such
action that directly or indirectly, results in the death of an animal. 
Incarceration should be required as well as heavy probation, and the
individual shall never be allowed to harbor, own, care for, or be
alone in the presence of any animal indefinitely.  It would also
state that no confidentiality of such child, minor, or underage
person be given in any case, regarding such things as the media and
public files."
Yes, indeed Alison, we need such a law.  I am saddened that we 
don't have such a law and the possiblility of such a law being
passed is slim to none.  Consider that some states are even making
it a crime to videotape farm animal cruelty.  That is shameful
and wrong. So, barring a law being enacted, is there anything
we can do to lesson incidences of animal cruelty?
As a former teacher way back when, I think it would have been
wonderful if we could have  incorporated lessons in compassion
in our curiculum. A re teachers allowed to do this today?  I hope
so. But more,  I would hope that superintendents would not only 
encourage teachings of compassion in our schools, but  that each
year the fifth grade would have  a syllabus re this. I read that
a school district in Philadelphia has been doing this for some
time now. I was impressed.  Hopefully, one day all school districts
will follow this wonderful example.  We need to  incorporate this
notion in all our school districts nationwide.  
But easier said then done.  Last year, I tried to convince the
Superintendent of the Cleveland Schools to adopt such a program. 
Sadly, I only got a response that they had read my proposal. 
Nothing more. Maybe if interested in this notion, you can try
your school superintendent if you think the idea has merit. 
Lastly, I found a poignant poem re our lack of insight into
signs of troubled youth:  
HOW DIDN'T THEY KNOW? by Kristen Sharer
When Billy was 6, one fine Easter day,
He received a gift with which he could play.
It was a sweet little bunny with hair to the floor.
What could have happened when it was found dead by the door?
Accidental, they said.  BilLy's just a child.
He just played too rough.  He got a little bit wild.
When Billy was 10 at a neighbor's house.
He poured some bleach on a friendly pet mouse.
Boys will be boys is what they said.
Be careful, they added as they patted his head.
When Billy turned 12 they found some deep cuts.
On the face and the neck of the sweet family mutt.
No harm was done.  The dog's not hurt bad.
He didn't mean to do it.  He truly feels sad.
When Billy was 16, he took a gun to school.
He fired upon them while calling them fools.
When Billy was finished having his fun.
He smiles at his carnage and lays down his gun. 
The town went on weeping all through the trial.
He showed no remorse.  He showed not a smile.
What happened, they asked, to a boy so fine?
How could it be, he showed not a sign?
What about me said the ghost of the long dead mouse?
And the rabbit who was found dead in his house?
And the elderly dog with scars that still showed.
Softly whined and wondered,
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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
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