There have been two items on the CBC website this week from Nfld that caught the eye of most folks here in NS. The first of course was the next sequel in the ongoing story of animal abuse by an eight year old boy. Readers have been horrified by the age of the accused and it should be no surprise to anyone in the animal loving community that that the coverage has extended to an expert opinion that this is a child who needs immediate assessment and intervention .
The second story is also part of an ongoing saga. A man from the Valley has been remanded for psychiatric assessment following a very public violation of the bail terms for the original offense of weapons related offenses and threatening to kill a couple of police officers.
No question about it ... both are serious situations but there is one glaring difference between the two. In the first instance, the child is still at home while the investigation is going on. Why? Is it because there are a completely separate set of rules for children? Is it that the existing animal cruelty laws don't send a strong enough message? Or is that it isn't viewed as the same type of criminal activity that harming a human would?
In the second instance, the police were able to act before Mr Baltzer had the opportunity to kill the police men. Why? Is it because he is an adult? Is it that he was threatening harm on human life? Or is that the law contains provisions for a proactive and lifesaving approach?
And before the keyboards catch on fire ... life is life and it all precious. Should the policemen ... and all other human victims... be protected? Of course they should. At its best, the purpose of the law is to protect all members of society. Not simply from the criminals, but from the vigilante justice that occurs when the laws don't step up to the plate.
Human life is precious .... and better protected under the law. So why the concern for animals?
"According to a 1997 study done by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Northeastern University, animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people and four times more likely to commit property crimes than are individuals without a history of animal abuse" ( from Pet-Abuse.com ... where that same article goes on to document the convicted serial killers who began their careers by torturing and killing animals )
In other words ... we are neither protecting our children, nor our communities by failing to recognize that children who violently kill and torture animals are in desperate need of intervention.
Nor are we are sending a suitable message when our animal cruelty laws lack sufficient penalties to act as a real deterrent. The reason that most violent offenders begin with animals is that they are more vulnerable in every possible definition of the word.
Even worse .. when the laws do get changed .. and more penalties are on the books ... animal abuse can still pass under everyone's radar. Why? Because it take practical resources to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty. Here in Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia SPCA is mandated to investigate and provide the evidentiary basis for successful prosecution.
So what's the problem? Funding is the problem. Like something out of a Monty Python movie .. they are told to the job without anything remotely resembling sufficient funding.
There is no company in this province that would accept those kind of terms.
I also noticed an interesting tidbit in the Herald this morning. Front and center on the front page, it would seem that the provincial deficit is actually going to be $246.000,000.00 less than the NDP bobsled team had originally projected in April.
If you love animals and you love children, might I suggest this would be a dandy time to contact your MLA and ask them to press for more funding for animal cruelty investigations for the society.
What time is it? Its always time to remember that the best way to have some say in how your tax dollars are spent is by directly contacting the politicians who represent you.