Animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is dispatching education kits to north west schools following a spate of attacks on animals.
The ‘kindness kits’ are being sent to primary schools in |Londonderry following recent |incidents of cruelty.
“We want to prevent future acts of cruelty and neglect such as this,” PETA spokesman Ben Williamson said.
“Instilling empathy in children and teaching them to take responsibility for any animals in their care is vital. The safety of the community might depend on it.”
PETA's educational materials are designed to help children recognise the importance of compassion towards all living beings.
The Rainbow Rehoming Centre in Derry also has also offered to speak to schoolchildren and youth groups in the north west.
One involved a gang of boys as young as nine dangling a kitten over an open fire.
The boys threatened to burn the tabby kitten, but were stopped by a passer-by in the Brandywell area of the city.
The woman took the male tabby kitten and its three black siblings, which were hiding under a bush, out of harm’s way. They were later brought to the Rainbow
Rehoming Centre in the city. The shocking incident followed the discovery of a dog, which had sustained head injuries before being burned.
There have also been incidents of animal cruelty in other parts of Northern Ireland and packs will also be sent there.
A kitten was thrown from a car in Belfast, while family pet collie Codie had to be put to sleep after sustaining horrific burns in an attack in Maghaberry, Co Down.
PETA said it had decided to act “in the wake of a series of incidents involving children beating, torturing and setting fire to dogs and cats in different parts of Northern Ireland”.
The organisation warned that research in criminology and psychology indicates that people who commit acts of cruelty against animals often go on to harm |humans.
The organisation said experts in mental health and law enforcement consider the callous disregard for life and desensitisation to suffering evidenced by all forms of cruelty to animals to be a red flag.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation uses reports of crimes against animals to analyse the threat potential of suspected and known criminals.
Experts agree that it is the severity of the behaviour — not the species of the victim — that matters.