At the age of 11, with my first dog Jacque, I was already something of a dog whisperer. Or perhaps my poodle was a people whisperer?
If you already read the back cover, or the introduction with the warning about Chapter 16 of Saving Papa’s Tales, you know this is not an appropriate story for most children. It is not a Lassie story.
There is a growing movement in this country to make animal cruelty a federal crime. If such a law could be written so that it emphasizes the root causes, with the goal to change attitudes and help people gain empathy towards all living things, then it might be a worthy cause. However, many proposed laws are about punishment.
I was a child of 15 when I did those terrible things to animals that I have now written about, and regretted even as I did them. It is my contention that animal cruelty starts with child neglect and child abuse. I now know, that was the case for me at least. Punishment rarely changes behaviors for the good. Usually, it just reinforces and justifies bad behavior in the eyes of the perpetrator.
And when defining what constitutes animal cruelty, are we willing to consider our practices concerning the food chain? Is crowding thousands of animals together with no freedom to move, cruel? Some people contend that hunting is cruel. I would argue that true hunters, and not just the weekend warrior types, are far less cruel in their behaviors than large meat producers and the supermarket chains that provide the neat, cleaned up packages that were once living animals.