On May 7th, authorities recovered 30 dead dogs, 25 of which were puppies, from a freezer in Hjoerring, Denmark. The owner of the home, who was charged with disturbing the peace and ignoring a court order banning dogs from his property in April, was not home at the time. How the animals died remains unclear but one thing is for certain: the 66-year-old man responsible for the death of these creatures will likely face no consequences for his actions.
That last part wasn’t officially included in the police report but, judging from previous animal abuse cases, it’s not difficult to guess how this situation will be handled. For years, the gravity of the animal abuse epidemic has largely been ignored in the US and abroad. Despite the gruesome nature of many of these acts, most of people involved receive significantly lesser punishments than those who commit “traditional” crimes like robbery, kidnapping, or murder.
And why? Why is it that a soldier who can pick a puppy up by the scruff of its neck, look it in the eyes, and throw it off a cliff receive no harsher punishment than a discharge from the service? Why is it that a Japanese man who felt the need to choke, torture, and hang an abandoned kitten and then post pictures of it on the Internet only received a 6-month imprisonment charge, one which was later reduced? Why is it that a couple in Utah who neglected over 100 horses, some to the point of death, were not charged with any criminal offenses?
Maybe I’m missing something here but I don’t understand why the fines for these crimes are not astronomically high like they deserve to be. Animals are no different than humans, really, if you ignore the whole “lack of opposable thumbs” and “being covered in fur” thing (although I can’t say that last one doesn’t apply to some people). They may not be able to verbally express their thoughts but that fact does not give us permission to treat them with any less compassion. Just because they cannot ask for help does not mean we are not obligated to provide it. (It’s like Homeward Bound meant nothing to this world.)
What concerns me more, though, is not so much the less-than-severe punishments applied to such crimes but rather, the motivations behind the acts themselves. Animal abuse is a gateway crime. It is the first step in a pathway to larger offenses. After all, if you can strangle the life out of a living, breathing creature, what is stopping you from moving on to humans? It just seems like a logical progression.
Apparently, I’m not the only one with this theory. In 1963, forensic psychiatrist John Marshall Macdonald proposed a theory called the Macdonald Triad, which links animal abuse in childhood to violent tendencies later down the line. In the theory, Macdonald connects animal cruelty to pyro-behavior and bedwetting after the age of five. What I’m saying is, my theory does have some scientific backing, even if it’s a little outdated.
I don’t know what made the man in Denmark hoard 30 animal carcasses in his freezer. Maybe a pack of dogs attacked him as a child, instilling in him a lifelong hatred for the creatures that he aimed to avenge through this heartless act. Maybe he has a psychological disorder that prevents him from feeling any sort of emotional connection to other living creatures. Maybe his parents preached cat-loving, canine-killing ideas. I don’t know and truthfully, I don’t really care because regardless of what we do, there will always be crazy people (a fact that reality television likes to remind us of on a daily basis). Unless scientists step up their game, the elimination of psychopaths from the gene pool remains an unlikely development. However, we can prevent the deaths that emerge as a result by simply keeping our eyes open and paying attention to the world around us. The dogs in Denmark were discovered after a noise complaint from one of the neighbors. Had they not called the police, more animals may have been subjected to this man’s twisted vision.
But if you’re afraid of phones like I am or want to be more involved in the prevention of these crimes, there are other ways to stop the abuse. In 2012, an unidentified person ran into the lawn of a family in Michigan and dumped an acid-based chemical onto the Siberian Husky sitting in his crate. The burns the dog sustained eventually killed him. Since then, the family has proposed a bill called Logan’s Law after the name of the dog that would ban the sale of animals to those convicted of animal abuse.
If you take anything away from this article-turned-PSA, let it be this: you may not be able to avoid the crazies but at least you can stop them from doing more damage. I don’t care if we have to play that Sarah Mclachlan commercial on repeat. We must end this problem.
Featured image via Shutterstock