News Index > Sortable News 10/06 - now > August 2007
LTE - Abolishing Animal Cruelty

[Greensboro News Record - opinion]

People of conscience have a soft spot for animals. Horror-stricken, we recoil from the spectre of animals abused or neglected. Regrettably, many among us are immune to the pangs of conscience and are therefore capable of shocking, subhuman acts of cruelty. Witness the charges related to dogfighting against Michael Vick and our reaction to his indictment.

As quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, Vick has showcased speed, athleticism and an uncanny ability to elude pursuing defenders. Consequently, he has earned legions of fans and the respect of his opponents. If convicted, he will lose both. After all, there is nothing "manly" about animal cruelty. It is a disgrace on the level of beating one's wife or children: the epitome of cowardice.
The law, at its best, defends the defenseless and punishes, swiftly and severely, those who prey on the weak. The Vick case presents a window of opportunity not only to create awareness of animal cruelty, but also to send a message to those who demonstrate their "manliness" by abusing or neglecting animals. A man capable of torturing and slaughtering animals may soon tire of that "sport" and move on to women and children. If a man is free of conscience, what's the difference?
One of the speakers in Raleigh was Jennifer McCollum of Greensboro, a volunteer with SPCA of the Triad. She argues, quite rationally, that "the way to prevent shelters from having to kill thousands of animals at all is to have our animals spayed or neutered." McCollum is a devoted and tireless advocate for animals. But she is not humorless. She e-mailed me a photograph sure to strike the funny bone of people of conscience: two dogs playing tug of war with, and tearing to shreds, a Michael Vick jersey.

Charles Davenport Jr. is a freelance columnist who appears in the News & Record on alternate Sundays.

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