Guest OpEd by Jerry Finch ~ President of Habitat for Horses
Animal Abusers are one step away from Serial Killers
“One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.” -Anthropologist Margaret MeadAs part of my less formal education I attended a course from HSUS called “First Strike – The Violence Connection.” While the material presented was shocking, the conclusion fits like a glove onto every scenario of animal abuse and neglect that I’ve witnessed. The bottom line is that when you see a person who is guilty of animal abuse, you are also looking at a person who has no problem beating the hell out of another human. Animal abuse is a proven predictor of violent behavior.
The FBI considers past animal abuse not only as a predictor of human violence, but uses it when profiling serial killers. In one study alone 70 percent of women seeking shelter from physical abuse report that their partners had threatened, injured or killed one or more family pets.
There is no doubt about the connection. Anyone who is even vaguely and remotely interested in the subject can Google “animal abuse and human violence” and have instant access to over 2.7 million articles. Those articles are not hidden from law enforcement or the judicial system. No one is telling the prosecutors, “Oh, don’t look at that stuff. Doesn’t mean anything.”
So the question of the day is – why do those who beat, starve and kill animals receive little more than a slap on the wrist? What part of the statement, “…a predictor of human violence….,” does our judicial system not understand?
Case in point – Naysa was a bone thin mare, sold at an auction in Louisiana and, when she was reluctant to load in a trailer, the owner made a halter of barbed wire, tied her to the trailer, pulled her half a mile down the road, shot her in the head and left her in a ditch. (She survived, came to HfH for rehabilitation and now is living happily in Florida) After two and a half years and a zillion letters from all over the world to the District Attorney, the owner, father of several children and a “horse trainer,” admitted he was guilty and received a probated sentence, which was nothing more than, “Ya’ll don’t be doin’ that no more, ya’ hear?”
Jason Meduna, former owner of the Three Strikes Ranch in Nebraska, killed countless horses, starved hundreds more, claimed his neighbors were poisoning them (I’m still searching for the type of poison that causes starvation, massive worm infestations and snow-shoe hooves), spent 20 months in jail and is now free to wander around Wyoming. Think he has an ounce of remorse for his deeds? Do you really think he learned anything?
Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue – we pulled 1,200 animals out of there in the middle of winter, starved, too weak to walk, complete lack of even the basic level of care, and to this day, no one has had to answer to a single person about the indescribable horror those animals went through or the endless death we witnessed. Oh, the DA is very proud of his case file. It’s right up there on his bookcase. The bad guys can be found down at the coffee shop.
Habitat for Horses is one humane organization out of thousands that deal with the victims of abuse on a daily basis. There isn’t a single active animal rescue organization that doesn’t have a horror story they could share, nor one that doesn’t look back in revolting disgust at the weak-kneed, “couldn’t care less” attitude of the judicial system.
I well remember talking with the Assistant DA in the Naysa case as he explained the delay in taking the case to trial, “We have a murder case, two rapes, I don’t know how many assaults. These animal cases just get pushed back.” As much as I tried to explain it to him, he wasn’t interested.
“Have you checked on his kids?” I asked. The blank look was all the response I needed.