Animal and child cruelty comes from same dark place
THERE have been quite a few cases of animal cruelty in the media in recent months.
It is an issue that has always touched me deeply and is one of the main reasons I use and promote positive handling and training methods.
The American cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead once said, "One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it."
Why? Because this behaviour is a gateway to other acts of cruelty and criminal behaviour that if unchecked in youths, has the potential for tremendous growth and damage.
There is evidence to suggest that young people most at risk of performing cruelty acts on animals are those that experience and live with cruelty of their own.
They come from abusive homes, they witness domestic violence or they are victims of extended bullying.
Acts of cruelty are attempts to reclaim or demonstrate their own power in a way that they are familiar with - through violence.
Currently in the media we are seeing a focus on the issue of domestic violence. Recent statistics tell us that two women die from domestic violence a week currently in Australia.
Any unfortunate children or animals that live in these households undoubtedly also suffer varying levels of abuse.
Indications and precursors for cruelty are warning signals that need to be acknowledged and acted upon by a community.
You might be wondering why this is relevant to animal training and behaviour? Because I believe the most valuable message I can share is one of understanding and kindness.
On a daily basis, I am faced with animals that wear check chains, or correctional equipment, not for safety, but for convenience, or because they haven't been taught how to behave in certain settings.
Animals are subjected to unhealthy levels of stress often.
If your animal has ever been so frightened that it has urinated or defecated in that moment, then this is cruel too.
If they live with stressful, unreasonable companions who pick fights with them, this is cruel.
If they are injured and don't receive the treatment or relief that they require then this is also cruel.
Cruelty happens every day in small ways and we tolerate it. We grow accustomed to it and we don't request or instigate change until a line is crossed….
So the question becomes, where is that line? Where is your line?