It is well known that people who abuse animals often go on to abuse humans. It’s kind of an entry level cruelty. This is why it is important to intervene early with animal abusers to help them learn how to be more caring and compassionate.
The Los Angeles SPCA, who I used to work for, has an award winning TLC program that they offer to at risk youth and more recently, to juvenile offenders in LA. It’s an intensive program that helps them learn how to care for animals and thus, break the cycle of violence. See: http://spcala.com/newsreleases/article.php?release=325 for details and to make a donation to the LASPCA – which I highly recommend.
One of the reasons I wanted to write about this is because a) the examples of why kids are abusing animals in the first place all involve bullying and b) because the skills being taught in animal care are the same skills I teach in how to stop a bully using operant conditioning.
Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between animal cruelty and domestic violence, child abuse, bullying and school fights (see this link which has relevant references at the bottom – http://www.americanhumane.org/interaction/support-the-bond/fact-sheets/understanding-the-link.html)
When I worked at the LASPCA it was inevitable if we had an animal abuse case, we also had a child abuse and/or battered woman case. When a culture of violence permeates, it affects everyone and everything.
I do think that helping kids learn how to train dogs can directly impact their ability and confidence to handle difficult humans as well. It’s the same skill set after all. So I applaud the LASPCA for the efforts to prevent human cruelty at the same time they are working to prevent animal cruelty.
Cruelty is cruelty and must not be tolerated.