Cycle of Violence
Although we knew that we would receive some jokes and negative comments about offering a reward for the abuse of a rat, we also knew that we needed to do it. The same person who is willing to cruelly treat a small animal will not stop there.
We received a complaint about a man beating his puppies. His response to us was a very belligerent, “I don’t beat my puppies any harder than I beat my children.”
In another incident, as I looked out of my office window one day, I heard a young man yelling at his mother while using filthy language. When she came in to apply for a puppy, I did not feel at all bad declining her questionnaire since her young son lived with her.
While the majority of animal cruelty cases involve teenage boys, girls and children as young as seven years of age are also committing acts of violence against animals.
The problem of cruelty to animals is not just a problem for people who respect and care for animals. People learn how to abuse, torture, and kill humans by practicing on animals. It is a brutal, tragic cycle of violence that affects us all.
It is not just a coincidence that most of the time when the newspaper publishes a story about a violent crime that just happened, or announces the arrest of people on drug-related charges, the names of the people are familiar to us because we have been to their homes investigating animal neglect or cruelty. Dogfighting and cockfighting are also interwoven with illegal drugs and other violations of law.
The belief that one’s treatment of animals is closely associated with the treatment of fellow human beings has a long history in philosophy. As early as the 13th century, moralists like Saint Thomas Aquinas proposed that one might lead to the other. This philosophy served as the ethical foundation for the rise of the animal welfare movement during the nineteenth century.
In 1966, Doctors D.S. Hillman and Nathan Blackman published one of the first studies that examined the correlation between animal abuse and its connection to other forms of violence. Their analysis of life histories of eighty-four prison inmates showed that 75 percent of those charged with violent crimes had an early record of cruelty to animals.
Doctors Alan Felthous and Stephen Kellert conducted additional research in the 1970s and 1980s. They identified a cycle of abuse that begins with physical abuse by parents, cruelty to animals, and violence toward people.
Animal abuse rarely involves a single act of cruelty against one victim. It is part of a complex cycle of disturbed relationships. Within this tangled web, an abused child becomes violent to others, including animals.
Scientists and lawmakers are beginning to acknowledge the humane movement’s long-held position that society’s treatment of animals is inseparable from its treatment of human beings.
So, yes, we did receive some jokes and negative comments about our concern for an abused rat. We are also very concerned about any animal that comes into contact with the person who taped the rat and left him for dead.