Think about this . . . you have no freedom, never hear a kind word, never know what the smell of clean air is like, and never touched by a gentle loving hand. It was said best by a lady named Ella Wilcox when she said, “I am the voice of the voiceless; through me the dumb shall speak; till the deaf world’s ears be made to hear the cry of the wordless weak”. Some of us believe that a ‘dog is a man’s best friend’ or that cats are the ‘key to kindness’. If only everybody felt that way . . . but they don’t. I’m going to tell you about types of people who don’t feel that way about animals.
But first, let me paint a mental picture for you. Picture a dog barking, that’s what they do, right? Imagine a steel rod being shoved down a dog’s throat to rupture their vocal cords so they’re ‘debarked’. Gut-wrenching scenes of malnourishment, filth, and sickness are all too common in abused animals. Others are beaten, starved, neglected, shot, tortured, and the list goes on and on. Passive cruelty is shown by cases of neglect, where the crime is a lack of action. Severe neglect can cause incredible pain and suffering to an animal.
Examples of this are starvation, dehydration, allowing a collar to grow into an animal’s skin, and inadequate shelter in extreme weather conditions. Active cruelty is malicious intent, when a person has deliberately and intentionally caused an animal harm. Some animals have been burned alive or even had acid poured on them causing them excruciating pain. This type of cruelty shows a sign of serious psychological problems and these actions are often linked with sociopathic behavior and should be taken seriously.
Studies in psychology and criminology over the last 25 years have shown that violent offenders have had childhood histories of serious repeated animal cruelty. The FBI has recognized that in the lives of serial killers, most had killed or tortured animals as a child. Other research has shown patterns of animal cruelty among child abusers and spousal abusers as well. The person feels powerless and develops a warped sense of self-respect. Eventually, the abuser feels strong only by being able to dominate a person or animal; animal cruelty is about power and control.
As we’ve seen in the news lately, animal hoarding is another type of animal cruelty; this is when a person keeps dozens of animals in horrible conditions. It’s not uncommon for us to hear about somebody having hundreds of animals in one house with the smell of urine so bad that the neighbors can smell it, and when investigated, almost everything is covered in feces, they have no food or water, and dead animals lay among the living ones just rotting away. For example, in 1993, a woman in Oregon was arrested after it was discovered that she had 115 dogs, 4 cats, and 2 roosters living with her . . . in a school bus.
When she was arrested, she bragged that she had not let any of the dogs off the bus for weeks to prevent them from getting fleas. When one of the dogs was autopsied, there was no food in its system or any body fat, which was a sign of a long and painful starvation. As for her, she only received a 7 month sentence for destroying those animal’s lives forever. Another example of cruelty is what they call ‘puppy mills’. These are basically breeding factories where dogs live in shocking conditions and are bred solely for profit, with no thought to the pain and suffering inflicted on these poor animals.
When I lived in Nashville, I heard about one of these puppy mills through a coworker that was also an animal lover and I was told that if I went, I pretty much had to deal with what I saw or they would escort me out because it was for brokers, which are people who buy large quantities of dogs to breed. I went there on one of the days they were having this auction just to see for myself what it was like. What you do is walk around to different cages and get some idea of which ones you want to bid on.
The cages were stacked on top of each other, 2 or 3 high, depending on the size of the cage, and they were made out of chicken wire in which I later found out the reasoning for. It was so they wouldn’t have to clean the cages when the dogs would use the bathroom, because most of it would fall down to the next cage and eventually some of it made it to the ground, but not before it landed on the dogs below. It was the most awful stench you could ever imagine. Some of the cages had dogs with one eye, dogs with the bottom of their paws bleeding, and old scars, missing ears and legs, trembling in the corner of their cages.
I saw one man open a cage and grab one of the dogs out of it, which some of them had 3 or 4 in there, and just had it by the skin of its back carrying it like a bag of potatoes or something. It wasn’t by the nap of its neck, it was its back. He was taking it to be auctioned off. As I was looking at these poor dogs and quietly talking to them, I could hear the auctioneer giving his sales pitch “if you just sell one of this pregnant bitch’s puppies, you will make more than you paid for her”, “bitch only has three legs – big deal, she won’t be passing that on”. It was time for me to go, and at that time, it was the worst thing I’d ever seen.
That puppy mill auction has since been shut down. So how can we help those poor lost souls? We can help them with better, stronger, more severe laws against animal cruelty. It is now considered to be a felony in 37 states, but it’s only a misdemeanor in the others. I’m proud to say that Tennessee is one of those states that animal cruelty is a felony. In conclusion, if you know of someone committing heinous acts upon animals, do something about it. Contact the police, call animal control, but do something. Animals are like children, they can’t speak for themselves. And we can all make a difference, for we are all the voice of the voiceless.