Legal Ballerinas

All charges were dropped yesterday against the Toronto Humane Society staff accused of animal cruelty and neglect. The charges stemmed from raids last year that uncovered animals that were in poor health or had died due to abhorrent treatment, poor nutrition and a general lack of care. The Crown dropped their case after having determined, before trial, that there were serious issues with how one of the search warrants related to the arrest was served. Critics are suggesting that this is something that should have been decided by a judge, rather than by the prosecutors.

Lost in all of this mess is that this incident provides yet another example of how we fail as humans to give proper importance to the care of the lives that depend on us. And, even if the greasy bastards escaping litigation in this case had been brought before the courts, the worst they would have received for their crime is the proverbial slap on the wrist. When it comes to animals, despite the fact that they are living creatures, the punishment for abuse never fits the crime.

I know you are supposed to maintain that all are innocent until proven guilty. This is a great concept, in general, and intended to protect against prejudicial prosecution and jury bias. I could argue either side of the idea from a philosophical point of view, but I really don’t have the appetite for intellectual exercise right now, nor do I think it matters. It is a fact that animals were in poor health due to their treatment while at the Toronto Humane Society. It is a fact that animals died while under care at the Toronto Humane Society. That means that the people who worked at the Toronto Humane Society were responsible for animals becoming sick and dying under their care, and that means that the managers and administrators of the shelter are ultimately responsible.

It’s a simple chain of logic.

The ascension of rhw Conservative government to the PMs chair resulted in some collateral damage that probably went unnoticed by most. A bill was making its way through to become law that would change the penalties and make the punishment more severe for people convicted of animal abuse. The election that resulted in the toppling of the Martin government squashed everything that was in process, so this bill vanished and never became law. It’s unfortunate, really, because it would have marked the first time in something like 100 years that the existing law had changed regarding animal cruelty. As the law stands right now, blatantly and viciously mistreating an animal is not even punished as severely as crimes against property.

We don’t even protect the lives and welfare of animals as well as we protect our consumer electronics.

It amazes me every time I hear a sick story about some inbred idiot who abused an animal and got away with what amounts to a tongue lashing. There have been kittens thrown from cars, dogs beaten, horses starved and, most recently, some teenaged asshole who broke in and vandalized a house, painted the family dog and microwaved the gecko. When a person beats the crap out of another person, I think it’s terrible, but on some level I find it easier to understand. People piss me off too, and while I’m not saying it’s right for one person to beat three colours of shit out of another person just because they are pissed off, I’m saying I get it.

But, beating the life out of an animal?

It does not for a moment escape me that the world is filled with sick and pathetic individuals who gain pleasure and satisfaction from actions that a normal, functionally intelligent human being would find detestable. What escapes me is why those normal and functionally intelligent people would find it acceptable to punish such detestable crimes so lightly. Let’s keep in mind that most serial killers start with animal abuse and torture and graduate to people. At the very least, that should serve as a caution against not taking the situation seriously. Really, it should be a matter of simple common sense and compassion; the infliction of pain and suffering on people isn’t good, so it isn’t any less wrong when inflicted on an animal. In fact, I would argue that it’s worse, because the animal can’t defend itself the way people can.

Personally, I think crimes against animals should be treated almost the same as crimes against humans. Fine, maybe we can’t charge someone with murder for shooting a dog, but the penalty should be severe enough that fear of punishment would actually deter someone from acting stupidly and impulsively.

This holds doubly true in the case of the Toronto Humane Society. These are people entrusted with the care and “humane” treatment of animals that are either abandoned, lost or confiscated from abusive homes. If anyone should be an example of proper and humane treatment of animals, it should be the humane society. The fact that their conduct resulted in the clinic being shut down for a time, and the horror stories of mummified cats in the ceiling, simply demonstrate that these people broke this important trust. They should be punished severely.

But, careful legal dancing saves the day. I think the thing that repulsed me the most was that money donated to the Humane Society was used in the defence of these individuals. I know I, for one, wouldn’t donate a single penny more and would sue for damages that my donations had gone to helping free the people responsible for these crimes.

When people ask me why I have little faith in the direction of humanity, I smile and shake my head, because examples to support my reasons are around us every day. The fact that we are supposedly a superior species and act in such complete contradiction with our superiority is reason enough. As stewards of the world around us, we have the responsibility to use our “superior” intellect and abilities to care for the environment and fauna around us. Certainly, this at least holds true for our pets.

If people can’t look after the animals that look up to them unconditionally, why in the hell shouldn’t I look down on them? We don’t deserve any better.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Comment


Mail (will not be published)