An 11 year-old boy found five kittens in a dumpster outside his apartment complex in Woodbury, N.J., on April 11. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer article, the same boy found two kittens in the same dumpster weeks earlier.
The kittens were left in a Budweiser box sealed with duct tape with no food or water. Simply: They were left in the dumpster to die.
Pennsylvania is one of 31 states that has certain types of animal cruelty violations listed as felony offenses. The other 19 states have animal cruelty listed as a misdemeanor. A felony charge is more serious than a misdemeanor and can carry at least a year in prison. Abandonment is a summary offense, meaning a fine or jail time.
However, any ruling meant to punish people who abuse animals seems too small. Paying a fine for abusing a living thing is not equivalent to the crime, but not too long ago there wasn’t any punishment; so until laws get stricter, it will have to do.
As a member of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, I’ve seen the effects of abuse. Some animals are abused past the point of adoption and are no longer safe to be around humans. Others are easily rehabilitated and make wonderful pets, like my dog.
Pets are dependent on their caretakers. There have been reports in Philadelphia of animals being set on fire, starved and abandoned in the streets, among worse things.
This sick behavior is almost always a sign of a deeper psychosis. Former FBI profiler, Robert K. Ressler, said, “Murderers … very often start off by killing and torturing animals as kids.” A history of animal cruelty is one of the first things a profiler looks for in the background of a suspected murderer.
Ted Bundy tortured animals, Jeffrey Dahmer impaled the heads of cats and dogs on sticks and the list goes on and on.
Investigating and stopping animal abuse is worthwhile not only because of the depravity of the act itself, but also because the future of the abuser may be even darker. If someone is harassing an animal, they have aggression issues that need to be addressed by a psychologist or other mental health professionals and treated with therapy or medication.
Why seal kittens in a box with duct tape and put them in a dumpster instead of dropping then off at a shelter? Edison once said that until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.
Animal cruelty is not as hard to end as people assume. In Pennsylvania, the SPCA and police are empowered to take direct action when cruelty is reported. Neglect and abandonment are also forms of cruelty. If you see an animal outside on a leash day after day with no decent shelter and no signs of fresh food and water, your obligation is to report it.
The SPCA should be contacted about strays as well. While some animals are safe to approach, other strays could be dangerous or have a disease.
However, there’s something even more rewarding than reporting and stopping animal abuse: adoption. If you’re looking for a pet: adopt. Some animals need a while to recover, it takes patience and it’s worth it.
If you suspect abuse, either call the police or the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: (215) 426-6300. The Pennsylvania SPCA is located on 350 E. Erie Ave.
Carolyn Steeves can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.