There are plenty of laws to protect children, not enough for animals

February 17, 2011

Regarding the letter in the Feb. 13th Sun from Stanley Weinstein "So much concern about animal abuse, so little concern about child abuse," I agree that the story of the woman who buried her baby in Druid Hill Park should have received more outrage. It was a vicious and heinous crime, and she should be punished, not plea deal her way out of it.

However, let me point out that there already exist many strict laws and serious consequences relating to child abuse and neglect, as well as homicide. If that woman or any number of terrible criminals can be considered for plea deals in light of their crimes against innocent people, what chance do you think the life of a mere animal rates in our justice system?

Outrage at acts of animals cruelty is necessary and well placed.

Children and animals are not an "either/or" situation. There is not a finite amount of compassion and kindness so that if we care for and respect non-human creatures, there will not be enough to extend to our own species. In fact, study after study has shown that quite the opposite is true. Children who are raised around animals and who learn respect and kindness toward animals are far more likely to grow up to be kind to their fellow humans than children who have never been exposed to the concept of kindness and respect for all living things.

Neither is it about the cute factor. Forget that these animals are cute and fuzzy or cuddly.

You don't even have to like them. The same could apply to children. But reverence and respect for life, or at least an unwillingness to be brutal and violent toward any life, is an urgent necessity and a barometer of a healthy well adjusted individual, as well as a decent and civil society.

Once a child has set a living, breathing beast on fire or harmed it in some other manner, immolating a homeless person, shooting a rival or beating a spouse is not that far of a stretch. We as a nation, indeed, all humanity must begin to accept that we are not all disconnected parts. We are at the very least reflections of our environment. Every time one of us looks the other way because it's "just an animal," we become partially responsible not only for the burning dogs and tortured cats of the world but the multitude of atrocities aimed at children and other members of our own species as well.

Tweefie Millspaugh, Baltimore

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