Children who abuse animals need intervention

April 08, 2010

Let's hope that the youths who pelted a tethered dog with rocks and bricks, causing the dog to suffer severe head and eye injuries, are quickly apprehended and charged with cruelty to animals ("Group of children sought in abuse of 1-year-old dog," April 7).

Animal abusers are bullies and cowards who take their issues out on "easy victims" — and they rarely limit themselves to hurting only animals. Psychiatrists, criminal profilers and law enforcement officials have repeatedly documented that young people who are cruel to animals often turn that violence against humans. Cruelty to animals appears in the histories of all our nation's serial killers and tragic school shooters. The FBI uses reports of cruelty to animals to gauge the threat potential of known criminals.

It's vital that youths who hurt animals receive intervention — including counseling and a ban on contact with animals — to prevent their violence from continuing. It's also crucial that animal guardians protect their dogs and cats from abuse and other dangers by keeping them indoors and never leaving them outdoors unattended.

Martin Mersereau, Norfolk, Va.

The writer is director of the emergency response team in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' Cruelty Investigations Department.

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