letter to the editor326

Demand action on animal abuse Should you be concerned that a man, with forethought, deliberately, systematically killed 74 dogs simply because he…

Demand action on animal abuse

Should you be concerned that a man, with forethought, deliberately, systematically killed 74 dogs simply because he didn’t want anyone else to have them?

I lie awake at night wondering how many women and children were terrified beyond speech when they heard why this man killed all of his dogs.

How many women have heard their male partners say to them, “If I can’t have you, nobody else will.”?

How many children have heard it being said to their mother?

It’s terrible to know that we’ll never know the answers to these questions, because the victims are too scared to seek help.

What rational and sane society would sit back, yawn, and think that since it was legal, and they were just dogs, there’s nothing I can do and it doesn’t concern me?

Our Yukon society, the collective “we,” is doing just that.

Our collective silence sends a strong message to our politicians that “we” simply don’t care enough about society’s helpless and vulnerable victims of abuse (including abused people) to demand change.

If individual people don’t speak up, the status quo remains unchanged, which I find very disheartening.

“Protection of animals is part of our criminal law because a person’s treatment of animals, like the treatment of children, the infirm or other vulnerable parties is viewed as a barometer of that person’s treatment of people,” wrote Alberta judge A.J. Brown. “As with all other criminal offences, harming animals amounts to hurting everyone.”

When anyone is capable of carrying out the willful slaughter of 74 pets, whether legal or not, and makes a statement that effectively says, “If I can’t have them, then nobody will,” it should raise alarm bells that signal a potential threat to people may exist in our community.

The link between human violence and animal abuse is now officially recognized as being very real, and the issue must be taken seriously by everyone.

“Well documented cases include; Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, the most recent US convicted serial killer, suffocated a cat as a child,” according to BC’s SPCA website (www.spca.bc.ca). “Jeffery Dahmer, notorious serial killer, impaled frogs, decapitated dogs and staked cats to trees before turning the violence toward human victims. Luke Woodham at 16 killed his mother and two high school students and injured seven others. Prior to this, he beat his dog with clubs, doused her with lighter fluid, set her on fire and threw her in a pond. Andrew Golden, 11, told friends he shot dogs with a .22 all the time. He and Mitchell Johnson, 13 killed four students and one teacher ambushed during a fire drill.

“Animal abuse is not a cause and effect issue but it is not surprising when there is a link. Often the first step of violent acts is abuse of animals.”

The existing Animal Protection Act, which is territorial legislation, and the Criminal Code of Canada’s Cruelty to Animals section completely failed to protect these Dawson dogs from suffering distress long before they were killed.

Some of the them were in such horrible condition that the Dawson City Humane Society was going out, again, to seize some very distressed dogs from the owner and determine if more charges should be laid against him.

Despite their best efforts the humane society could not save a single one of them, as his answer to the seizure order was to kill every single dog he owned.

Our existing territorial legislation is obviously seriously flawed and will continue to completely fail to protect animals from suffering terrible distress over extended periods of time.

Our politicians need to hear that this is not acceptable.

After 18 years of unsuccessful lobbying of five successive territorial governments to amend our Animal Protection Act, I am still steadfast in my belief that a strong animal protection law will have a trickle up effect, improving the lives of people who suffer abusive situations.

In our small community, it should be easy to have effective cross-reporting between agencies on the human/animal violence link, to better serve people at risk, or who are in abusive relationships.

There is also a need for comprehensive workshops dealing with animal and family protection issues to share information and raise awareness about issues effecting animal welfare and social service agencies.

But, to work, there must be a strong network between the various agencies.

Each should be aware of the connection between their particular focus and that of other professionals, effective identification and reporting of cases and what to do with the information they have gathered.

There is a desperate need for two “special officers” who are specially trained to:

• Investigate complaints of animals in distress and the duties associated with it.

• Provide public and professional workshops on the link between human violence and animal abuse.

• Work closely with agencies in cross-reporting, and provide education to all school-age children on the responsibilities of animal ownership and care.

I am asking all who care not to rely on articles such as this to be your voice.

This is just me, one voice speaking alone, and it’s not enough.

I implore you to e-mail, or make a telephone call, or write (an anonymous call or note, if you prefer) to your MLA to let them know that you care.

Just tell them you have read this and let them know what it means to you.

I would ask that you go back and re-read the very first sentence, and then decide.

Your voice will make a difference.

Andrea Lemphers

Whitehorse