August 1, 2017
It is very disturbing to see that animal cruelty has become a major problem in the Tauranga area. Local vets are saying they have had to euthanise hedgehogs and birds that had been attacked by children, and the Tauranga SPCA reports 431 complaints last year, over half of which involved cruelty to dogs.
Earlier this year, a six-week-old puppy called Skip was dumped in a clothing bin, severely underweight, dehydrated and suffering from a skin condition. The perpetrators were never found.
Because animals cannot report abuse and can do little to fight back, they’re often used as “practice” victims by those who tend towards violence.
Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals often go on to commit violent acts against their fellow humans.
A study by Dr John Clarke, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Sydney and consultant to the New South Wales Police Force, demonstrated, using police data, that 61.5% of convicted animal abuse offenders had also committed an assault and 17% were guilty of sexual abuse.
Most disturbingly, animal abuse was a better predictor of sexual assault than previous convictions for homicide, arson, or firearms offences. Only 1% of cruelty-to-animals offenders had no other convictions at all.
Cruelty to animals in New Zealand carries a penalty of up to $100,000 or five years’ imprisonment under the Animal Welfare Act. These penalties need to be applied rigorously by the criminal justice system.
Cruelty to animals is a serious crime that must be taken seriously. If you suspect someone of abusing an animal, report it to authorities right away, for the safety of the entire community.
Ashley Fruno is Associate Director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) based in Sydney, Australia.