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Animal abuse one step from abusing humans

Animal abuse is a serious moral and social issue. Every day brings reports of animal abuse the length and breadth of this country. Despite the heroic prevention efforts of animal welfare groups and the police, animal abuse is increasing in its scale and viciousness.

What is the cause of this desire to inflict pain and suffering on animals? Is there a mutation in a person's DNA that creates a proclivity for being involved in situations that involve inflicting pain on non-human animals? Are these situations the testing ground for moving on to a human victim?

A huge volume of research exists, which shows a strong correlation between substantial animal abuse in childhood and later personal violence to humans. This research should alert parents, social leaders and the legal system to the importance of animal cruelty as a potential indicator of disturbed family relationships and future aggressive behaviour towards humans.

Respect for animals is respect for human beings. Hurting animals hurts human beings. As a society, we must accept that those who are cruel to animals are only a step away from being cruel to humans.

Animal abuse is an attack on the standards of respect for life, compassion and assistance to those sharing our planet space. It might take a generation to recognise that the non-human members of our society have the right to live their lives without interference for humans and that those rights must be accepted, protected and defended.

JOHN TIERNEY

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