As the 2012 Presidential Election draws ever-closer, the chaos between the Democrats and Republicans has reached an all-time high, coming to (possibly) a peak with Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s insensitive comments about rape babies. But while everyone fights and argues over pro-life vs. pro-choice politics, a very simple point seems to be getting avoided in the scuffle.
I’m pretty sure most of this political chaos could be avoided if we all agreed on this point: It’s okay to have opinions, but don’t restrict people’s freedoms by trying to make your opinions into laws.
If you would not get an abortion if you conceived during a rape, more power to you. But don’t force traumatized 11- and 12-year-old girls to give birth to a baby that they don’t want and are not even physically mature enough to carry. Likewise, if a doctor told you that carrying your child full-term would kill you and you wouldn’t abort, then you are a better person than most. But don’t force every woman in that position to get a death sentence just because it’s what you personally believe.
The same goes for all this other nonsense. Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t marry someone of the same sex then. Don’t believe in evolution? Teach your children creationism when they come home every day. Don’t support marijuana legalization? Then don’t smoke it. It’s that easy people. Live your life the way you want to live it, but don’t impede on others’ happiness and beliefs just because of your own superiority complex.
On nearly every news station, people are speaking out on almost a daily basis about abuse. Domestic abuse. Child abuse. Citizens all across America are calling for an end to the abuse of one another and stiffer penalties for those violating the policy. Unfortunately, little is ever said about animal abuse.
Animal abusers get their picture plastered on the local news, are forced to pay a fine, receive minimal amounts of jail time, and get to skip away to abuse more animals; meanwhile, human abusers are thrown in jail for years and ostracized from the community at large. Which–don’t get me wrong–they should be. But so should those who choose to abuse animals.
Abuse is abuse no matter the animal (and yes, human beings are a species of animal), and the discrepancy between the penalties for one form of abuse over another have many people ready to abuse the lawmakers determining the penalties for the crimes.
We live in a world where celebrities like Michael Vick and Tripp Isenhour get a slap on the wrist for their monstrous misdoings. Their careers suffered only a minor hiccup although the lives of various animals they affected were forever lost. Part of the reason for this is that animals are considered “property” in a court of law. Not “life”. “Property”. This alone causes rage in the hearts of animal lovers.
“Animals are of much more value than a chair or a book,” insists Robyn Lamoreux of California, who has doctored a petition to increase the severity of animal abuse laws in her home state. “They are living creatures with a thinking process that allows them to feel emotions. They experience pain, grief, joy, hunger, and a lot of other feelings just as people experience.” This leads many to wonder why there is a difference in penalty when the emotions felt are the same for abuse victims regardless of species.
“Of course there is a difference in laws,” says Sandra Chung. “I’m not saying that I agree with animal abuse by any means, but humans are a much more intelligent species than dogs and cats. Because of that, the penalties range.” When asked why child abuse laws are stiff since toddlers and infants are not at their maximum intelligence, Chung added, “they become more intelligent as they age.”
Marianne Montgomery could not disagree with Chung more. “So essentially if an animal will never reach the intelligence of a normal human being, then we can abuse them and still be socially accepted?” she questions. “If that is the case, then why do we have stiff penalties for the abuse of the mentally handicapped? That logic is flawed, and it’s attitudes like that that are holding Americans back morally.”
Other people feel that part of the problem is that many of the people who seemingly disregard the well-being of animals are the very same individuals invoking the penalties. Keith Shephard, a federal police officer in Maryland, shot a domestic and leashed husky in an Annapolis neighborhood dog park during February 2011. He received a $1000 fine and probation for the act. Scott Fike, a 25-year veteran on the District of Columbia police force, threw a pit bull puppy down a flight of stairs and shot it during a crowded festival in September 2010 because it barked at him. Many people defended Fike because the animal’s breed, saying that the puppy was liable to attack the officer solely because it was a pit bull.
“I am tired of hearing people say that some dogs are naturally ‘mean’ like pit bulls,” rages Eric Dowdle, who has owned an assortment of dogs throughout his life. “They are wrong! There is no such thing! Meaning even if the dog was showing aggression, there is no justification for this use of force. It is unnecessary!”
Steps are being made to end this unfair treatment towards our furry brethren. According to a recent survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 41 percent of Americans are for increasing the severity of animal abuse laws and penalties, especially since 30 percent of those surveyed have witnessed animal abuse first-hand. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is also doing its best to help with its newly endorsed plan titled “Practical Guidance for the Effective Response by Veterinarians to Suspected Animal Cruelty, Abuse, and Neglect.” This guide establishes protocols for veterinarians on how to deal with suspected mistreatment by their patients.
“We’re just trying to acknowledge the concerns and difficulties cases of abuse and neglect present,” says the AVMA. “Getting everyone on the right page is the first step in the right direction to save lives.”
For more information, please visit The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website!