The reckless, inhumane and despicable events that occurred last July at the Grosse Pointe Hunt Club reminds us why animal cruelty is a felony.
Before this summer, I never thought a group of six young adults, fellow Grosse Pointers, would be capable of torturing and watching the merciless suffering of 19 helpless horses, and yet elect to do absolutely nothing. A recent comment made in the March 27 edition of the Grosse Pointe Times by one of Steven Fennell's friends that "it's ridiculous that they remanded him [Steven Fennell] because he was found not guilty of the most serious charge," made me realize the graveness of this crime had not been comprehended. The most important crime was not the loss of a barn, a material possession that can be replaced, but the loss of innocent lives.
Violent acts don't stop at animals. There are many types of vulnerable populations Ñ not just those with four legs, fur or feathers. Studies show that animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes, such as assault, robbery or rape; four times more likely to commit property crimes; and three times more likely to be arrested for drug related offenses. It is beyond dispute that criminally violent humans are violent to humans and animals alike. One may not consider pets as family members, like I do, but the concern for human safety should be reason enough to encourage animal abusers to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
No matter what verdict the jury returned, I knew it would not bring my beloved pet and friend back to life or relieve any of the pain and suffering the animals endured. But I can only hope the lessons we have learned will prevent others from being subjected to reckless behavior, violence and pain.
First, we need to increase our sensitivity to the importance of using animal abuse as a predictor of the increased risk for future acts of violence. Second, we need to support animal cruelty prosecutions to deter animal abusers. If we can accomplish these two goals, the animals may not have died completely in vain.
Albert Einstein claimed the humanity of a society could be judged by the way that they treat their animals. The support and sympathetic response from this community has been heartwarming and given some solace. The message is clear: abuse an animal, go to jail.