Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Editor’s view: Some people should just not have animals

Thursday, March 10, 2016 by The Press in Opinion

Many years ago, I wrote an editorial about being a responsible pet owner.

It was written near a holiday when people consider giving pets as gifts without checking to see if the recipient can care for the animal.

I labeled myself a questionable candidate to own pets.

However, I am a perfect candidate compared to some individuals in our area who continue to mistreat or kill animals in their care.

My questionable qualifications come into play in the following examples.

There is the time our cat performed a feat similar to a circus act by diving from my son’s bed to the hamster cage, knocking the cage off the table and pinning the hamster’s leg under a piece of apparatus.

And there was the time a different cat ate curling ribbon when I wasn’t looking. As the ribbon came out, I stepped on it, not knowing what it was, and he took off. The veterinarian said never to do that again as the ribbon could have been wrapped around the cat’s organs, and I could have done major damage.

And there was the time I gave my dog bacon grease on her food, and the next day she couldn’t walk. We went to an emergency care facility, and $450 later, I was told she had gas. I was told bacon grease was good for her coat. Not true!

I’m happy to report she is still with us. She will be 16 in July, and although a little wobbly on her feet, and with sight and hearing issues, she is happy and healthy. Our cat will be 15 this year and is, although a little overweight, happy and healthy, too — which makes me wonder how people can mistreat animals.

In December 2015, three individuals from Easton allegedly conspired to get rid of two pit bulls. They allegedly killed the dogs and placed them on train tracks in Upper Saucon Township to make the deaths look like an accident. But through social media and good police work, the owner was found, and three people were charged with cruelty to animals.

On Feb. 4, Times News reported two people, including a local veterinarian, are facing animal cruelty charges after police removed a dozen neglected horses from a Lower Towamensing Township farm.

Police have removed 16 horses from the property since Jan. 20, when they received a tip about a farm on Sunny Rest Road with emaciated and dead horses. The person who called police said a dead horse was seen in the pasture, as well as several emaciated horses roaming the property.

Three of those have had to be euthanized, and the others have a wide range of medical problems, according to officials with the animal rescue where the horses were taken.

The husband and wife told police they do not own many of the animals.

On Jan. 22, police searched the property and found nine of the 16 horses in critical condition.

They also found at least five dead horses — two hidden beneath wooden pallets, one beneath a burned mattress and two in a pit with the remains of other burned animals.

Police said the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is still investigating whether the couple will be charged with improperly disposing of those remains. The husband and wife have both been charged with 11 counts of cruelty to animals.

During that search, five of the most critically injured horses — one adult male, one adult female, one juvenile female and two juvenile males — were taken from the property, according to court documents.

Those five were taken to a veterinarian in the Quakertown area. Only three of the five would survive, with two having to be euthanized, according to a social media post from Last Chance Ranch in Quakertown, which assisted in the rescue.

On Jan. 26, officials from the Last Chance Ranch returned to the property and took seven more horses. One of those had to be euthanized.

Four remaining horses were removed Feb. 1.

But it wasn’t just horses removed from the property. Police also took a pig, a calf and a turkey during the first search and 20 sheep and goats, as well as three dogs, during the second. Police said a raccoon, an alligator, a boa constrictor and several birds were also on the property.

If convicted, the couple will likely only face a fine.

The male was previously charged with animal cruelty in 2009, after an animal control officer accused him of keeping four horses in poor conditions at a location in Jim Thorpe. Those charges were dropped.

And in 2009, a raid by the Department of Agriculture resulted in the removal of 210 dogs from Almost Heaven Kennel in Emmaus. The Humane Society of the United States provided assistance to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in the removal of the animals, transporting and providing resources for placement of the animals.

“We found conditions that are typical of a general puppy mill situation; we found animals in cramped cages and animals that were in need of medical care,” Justin Scally, head of the puppy mill task force with the Humane Society of the United States told The Press.

Scally said, in the case of puppy mills, many times the profits outweigh animal care. A team of veterinarian experts and veterinarians assessed and examined the animals during the raid. The owner was convicted and served approximately nine months in prison.

If you are a pet owner like me, you find cruelty to animals hard to swallow. Pets are members of our families. All they ask for is a warm place to sleep, nourishment and a loving family. Instead, many of these animals went without food or any attention for some time.

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, violent acts toward animals are indicators of a dangerous psychopathy.

“Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives,” wrote humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

PETA also said, “According to Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the FBI, ‘Murderers … very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids.’

“Animal abuse is not just the result of a minor personality flaw in the abuser — it is a symptom of a deep mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty toward animals rarely stop there; many of them move on to their fellow humans.

“The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appear in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers. The standard diagnostic and treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals as a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders.”

Most disturbing is a study on the PETA website conducted by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA. The study found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans.

Tougher sentences are needed — and until this happens, offenders will continue to neglect, abuse and kill innocent animals.

Debbie Galbraith


East Penn Press

Salisbury Press