Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Truly Despicable Acts of Humanity

I'm big on animal rights, and particularly, I'm in full favor of prosecution to the fullest extent of the law in the case of animal cruelty. Generally, cases of animal cruelty apply to house pets, most commonly dogs and cats, both of which have grown accustomed to living around humans over the last few thousand years, and dogs in particular, which are completely dependent on humans (it breaks my heart to see dogs who are kept outside all the time, with no chance to participate in daily life with the rest of "pack"). My opinion is, if you abuse an animal that is dependent upon you for its survival, sociability, etc., you should be punished severely for maltreatment of said animal.

Which is one of the things that makes me so outraged over this story about a man from Utah putting a puppy in a 200-degree oven for five minutes. His punishment is he will have to serve a full six-month misdemeanor sentence in jail, as well as a couple of years of probation, and stay away from his wife and all animals.

This is absurd. Apparently, Utah is one of nine states that still has misdemeanor animal cruelty charges (the other 41 states having the crimes categorized as felonies). As a result, for permanently ruining the life of this little dog (who did survive), he will spend a mere 6 months in jail and have a misdemeanor on his rap.

What's so upsetting to me about this is, by treating animal cruelty as a misdemeanor, we encourage inconsiderate treatment of all animals, including humans. Now, let it be said up front that I am NOT equating the treatment of humans to the treatment of dogs, cats, etc. However, it wouldn't hurt those nine states to make animal cruelty a felony. It's not juridically difficult, and something tells me that putting an issue on the ballot that says, in effect, "it's not OK to beat cats, puppies, and other domestic pets, kick them, put them in ovens, etc." would pass pretty easily.

So Utah (and the other 8, whoever you are): can you please take a little bit of time out of your oh-so-busy schedules passing pork-barrel projects, and actually create a law that will discourage people to beat helpless and devoted animals who are in symbiotic and dependent relationships with people?

I assure you - it's ok to encourage the decent treatment of lives, human AND otherwise.