Monday, October 16, 2006

How does one prevent abuse?

The caregiver I spoke to yesterday asked me this question - and I realised we've been asked this a lot by the media and by people who are genuinely concerned about animal abuse. As I was thinking about it though, you CAN'T prevent abuse. The best thing we can do is to keep the population down through sterilisation.

Education is touted as being important, and of course it is, but at the same time, often what is overlooked, is that abuse is an act of violence. Now lots of people may not particularly like cats, but few of them will bash them senseless and torture them either. Most of these same people would find the idea of killing cats abhorrent. If you DON'T find it abhorrent that violence and torture are being perpetrated, then what will education do?

Think about it - why do murders occur? No one however suggests we 'educate' people not to murder. It's a given - you don't kill another human being. Does the bar fall just because it's an animal? People argue sometimes that they were scratched by the cat - as if that's justification. For example, it's been found that murders happen more often during heat waves - and yet people don't get off just because they happen to kill when it's hot.

The fact of the matter is that abuse and murder share some things in common. Both are acts of violence and both result in painful, untimely death.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

sometimes, abuse is the result of ignorance.

i understand that in some countries, part of the sentence for animal abusers is a stint (supervised) in an animal shelter. abusers interact with animals and realise how intellegent, responsive and loving they can be. and apparently the percentage of successful rehabilitation in such cases is very high.

it is easy to kick a cat around if u have been brought up to think that animals are "just animals" and that they don't feel as we do. i think in such instances, it will be a real eye opener to let these ppl realise how "human" an animal's response can be, and that they can absolutely feel happiness, sadness and love.

so education does have a big part to play. also, the long term effect of education is hopefully that it will change society's attitudes and in so doing erase the idea that it is ok to treat animals badly.

16/10/06 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes education is so impt! Wld it be possible to work with
MOE to organize talks or set up booths in ALL schools?
Two days back, I was admiring the beauty of two cats resting on the field from my window and a group of 3 teenaged boys walked by. One of them threw a basketball at one cat! The cat ran away and I heard the 3 boys laughing.
To my horror they came back to aim for the other unsuspecting cat. I ran down to the cat. I stared at them & they walked off. I didn’t know if I should scold them for fear of them coming back to revenge on the cat.
Saw another “loving” dad with his kid in his arms, kicking an empty box and chasing the cat. I was really hoping he fell down with his son flat on the ground! The cats were really not even doing anything! How brainless can these people be!!

16/10/06 1:09 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous I'd be very interested to see that survey if you have it. It would be good to see if it can be used to counsel animal abusers.

Anonymous 2 - I know the SPCA has a very good programme already on kindness to animals. Contrary to what is thought about education though, Nathan Winograd advocates for example that he has not found a single survey that shows education has any impact. His point - and I do see why he says this - is that education once or twice a year is not going to be very helpful. Contrast this to parents saying every day that cats are dirty, it's okay to be cruel to them. Who's the child going to listen to?

16/10/06 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think people abuse animals for 2 reasons.

The first lot - are either children or people who grow up thinking animals are just animals or just plain ignorant. They kick, throw rocks at them, don't pay real attention to them & the animals end up battered & unhealthy. For this group of people, yes education will help. Education can their heightened awareness that animals are living beings like humans.

The 2nd group are people who intentionally hurt animals because they enjoy the act of doing so (it can be as simple as they enjoy violence & pain) or it makes them feel powerful & in control. They have serious psychological issues which I doubt education will not help. What they need is psychological attention.

16/10/06 3:45 PM  
Anonymous mr giggles said...

Hi there. I do suggest that if you ever see any such encounters with the teens, and "loving" but obviously uneducated dad, to simply ask what the cats did to provoke their actions. E.g. "Hi there! Can I ask you a question?" Wait for a reply, then continue, "Why did you do that?"

Most of the times, people get taken aback when asked this, and do get defensive, or try to brush it off. Then I'll ask them again, "how would you like it if someone did the same thing to you, or your kid?"

Confrontations are usually very uncomfortable and can get ugly. But if you keep cool and don't show fear or anger, and speak with authority (not arrogance), you may just have caused the other party to think about it.

16/10/06 3:46 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous is right - some people are ignorant. Children especially may kick a cat or try and scare it because they're ignorant. But some people hurt the animals because they enjoy the violence. For some,it's a means to intimate the people - in cases of domestic violence for example. The number of animal abuse cases in homes where there are women that have been abused is MUCH higher than in the norm. For these people, it's not about ignorance - they are violent individuals who are using the hurting of the animals as another way to intimidate the people they are also hurting or going to hurt. Alternatively they just LIKE hurting the animals, and for these people there's little in terms of education that would help them. The latter cases I also think tend to be more serious.

16/10/06 4:07 PM  
Blogger vegancat said...

Perhaps one of the reasons for increasing violence in our "modern"
society is our increasing and chronic exposure to violence on the media as well as in PC games. There are many nights when I flipped the movie channels (English and Mandarin) and everyone of them has elements of violence in them.

16/10/06 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you kick a cat, you show who's the boss. Igornant? They won't go & kick a big dog .... or that big guy's cat.
A bully picks & chooses who he/she could bully for that "feel good" feeling. Education would give confidence so one does not need to 'feel good' or prove one's might (& no-brain) by hurting those who cannot retaliate.

16/10/06 7:13 PM  

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