An Especially Ugly Ethics Quiz: Cam Betrayed

This story is too disturbing to describe, so I’m going to just give you the link.  Briefly, it involves a couple, she a veteran, he a soldier, killing their therapy dog, laughing as they did it, and filming the event. They were arrested on charges of animal cruelty. Read the story, here, and then consider the Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day, which is…

What is the fair, proportionate, and reasonable punishment for this conduct?

The comments to the story provide the predictable range on human attitudes toward animals, dogs, and pets. Some call for the two veterans’ execution. This is, I hope we can agree, irrational, emotional, and excessive. Other commenters take the attitude that the dog involved—they called him Cam, short for Cambouie.—is, after all, just an animal. They owned him; if he was sick, they had the right to put him down. Who cares whether they laughed or cried? There’s no law against filming an animal’s demise.

Should the punishment be less because PTSD may have been involved?

My Jack Russell Rugby is sitting on my lap after licking my head, so I’m not in a good state of mind to deal with this quiz right now. Cam, in case you don’t know your terriers, is a Staffordshire bull terrier (the photo above was taken before he was adopted by the pair and when he was called “Huey”), a breed closely related to Rugby in both temperament and DNA.

76 thoughts on “An Especially Ugly Ethics Quiz: Cam Betrayed

  1. I can’t look at the link. I hope that Cam did not experience fear or pain, dying at the hands of the humans he trusted. When we undertake the care and companionship of a pet, I believe that cruelty to that pet is an affront to not just the pet but to human society. It should at least be the worst level of misdemeanor, carrying time served and a permanent ban from pet ownership. I believe that Michael Vick should not be allowed to have a pet and I understand he is being allowed to have a pet.

  2. I confess not knowing the answer to this question, which would make a difference to me, but can a lay person kill a non-attacking, healthy dog they own, or is that something only vets and those who work for shelters can do? And if they can, under what circumstances?

    • So it looks like this would be the relevant statute, which seems rather broad: http://www.ncleg.net/enactedlegislation/statutes/html/bysection/chapter_14/gs_14-360.html

      So the killing of this dog qualifies, it seems

      But if it is the case that they fall under this statute, I would say throw the book at them. Not necessarily for the actual killing, but to protect other people in the future. Taking such genuine pleasure in killing something that trusted and depended on you is not the sign of a psychotic. It’s best to keep them from circulating out in the general public for as long as possible, as long as there a valid legal reason to do so.

    • I’m not sure what jurisdiction your link is from, but there’s almost certainly more to it.

      “(a) If any person shall intentionally overdrive, overload, wound, injure, torment, kill, or deprive of necessary sustenance, or cause or procure to be overdriven, overloaded, wounded, injured, tormented, killed, or deprived of necessary sustenance, any animal, every such offender shall for every such offense be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

      I have very serious doubts that every slaughterhouse employee in that jurisdiction is charged with a misdemeanor every time they kill a cow. I’m just saying.

      • I should have read the whole thing….

        “(c) […]However, this section shall not apply to the following activities:
        (2a) Lawful activities conducted for the primary purpose of providing food for human or animal consumption.”

        I wonder… back a few years ago, there was a case of BSE in Alberta that triggered an immediate halt on Canadian beef exports to America (You may have noticed a spike in meat prices around 2003-2005.) Canadian farmers are…. a strange breed. I’m not sure whether they were optimistic or stupid, but when faced with their largest consuming market shut off, instead of culling their herd and freezing the meat, quite a few of them bred their beef stocks over again, and had twice as many beef cows the next year that they could do nothing with. Faced with bankruptcy, being unable to sell or feed their animals, and not being able to afford the vet bills to have them ‘properly’ disposed of, some Canadian farmers dug huge trenches with backhoes and opted for the “ten cent solution”.

        I’m not sure what the applicable legislation would be… But if something like this NC bill applied, they probably committed thousands of misdemeanors.

  3. Jack, I haven’t posted in awhile but I no sooner finished reading the comments to this story when I received an email re: your post. I am sitting on my deck with my two golden retrievers…Cohiba and Macallum as I write. The number of people calling for retribution in the form of torture and execution was startling. I’m disgusted by the act, but dont have an answer to your query yet. Clearly, something is very wrong with what happened, as well as, the responses. I am glad you picked up on it. Looking forward to reading the comments.

  4. Oddly enough, yesterday was the ten year anniversary of the Michael Vick “Bad Newz Kennels” raid. What followed was some of the most despicably disgusting revelations I’ve ever struggled to read.

    There are dog ”owners” and dog “people,” I’m one of the latter. If you need to ask what the difference is, you’re one of the former.

    My nearly 12 year old Golden Retriever Hurley, (named after Hurley, WI, where I got married the only time I ever will) is without question the best friend I’ve ever had.

    I picked her out of a litter of 9, by rolling them all over. While on her back, she locked on to me with those “Seabisquit” eyes, and that was it.

    If ever I thought there would be some harm to come to her, I would do whatever it took, not batting an eyelash, to prevent it from happening; I’ve no doubt whatsoever she’d do the same for me.

    This did remind me of a time when I should have intervened. I loading some mulch into my car, while Hurley patiently waited and watched anticipating our next adventure, as a woman walked past with her dog.

    The dog stopped to sniff something and she kicked it, it cowed and tried to get away and she said in a voice that literally dripped displaced anger and meanness “do you want me to kick you again?”

    I’ve played and replayed that in my mind over and over I don’t know how many times, thinking how that dog probably endured a life of constant misery, wondering what it had done to deserve such a lot, occasionally getting something fleetingly positive from its owner, only to have it lapse back into the same old/same old.

    Dogs are emotionally honest, unconditionally loving, and have short, forgiving memories.

    Unless you happen to be on Hurley’s meticulously developed ‘route’ of neighbors & Odana Hills Golf Course golfers whom she successfully, and with aplomb, works for treats; then you’re permanently penciled in.

    That dog deserved a hell of a lot better than it was getting.

    Next time something like that happens I’ll step in, especially after reading this, and Hurley will be cheering me on.

    • Your Hurley really is a great friendly dog!

      Yes, “step in” next time, first with some very stern words then with “appropriate” action if necessary. Appropriate action could be as simple as calling 911 to report the violence or taking photos; that is unless the life of the animal is actually in danger. You have to be careful if trying to prevent a dog from being beat to death, the dog could turn on you in a heartbeat if they think that person they known so long and feeds them is in danger; the key is to just stop the abuse not shift the abuse onto yourself. 😉

      Are you doing your party again this year?

      • The feeling’s mutual, she recalls your attentive response to her working you. I just told her you mentioned her and her cauliflower ears [remnants of post-swimming head-shaking hematomas] perked up.

        August 12th, hope to see you.

        • I plan on being there and I’ll likely partake in some of those delicious smelling vittles. Maybe you can convince some of our other mutual respected contacts to attend this year. Get an early email out so they can reserve the date.

  5. Throw the book at them! People so unbalanced to treat a dog this way are not to be trusted around people! Serial killers often start with animals, i fear if their lies had not caught up with them, they could have moved on to more innocent targets. They need help and prison.

  6. From the legal system? A fine and a short stay in the country lock-up just to drive the point home.

    From everyone else, it’s already done. Their names photos and crimes belong to the almighty Google. They’re pariahs now.

    • Just what I was thinking. If indeed their identities are known, they will be subject to social pressures in the realm of that meted out to child abusers.

      My only question, after reading this, was where Rugby was situated in order to lick Jack’s head or, if not suspended from above then Jack must be head-down, in which case: how does anything get written?

      • I can think of a few ways that worked. Dog walked along the back of the couch, Jack was reclined or even supine while using a laptop, little doggie sized rocket boots.*

        *Rocket boots being the most plausible.

      • Excellent question.

        We have a large stuffed “Chair and a half” where I often write posts on my netbook. Rugby climbs on the back of the chair, lies down, and has a perfect shot at my dome. He’s been doing this since he was a puppy. I have no idea what’s so tasty about my head. I’ve asked my wife to investigate, but she demurs.

  7. This is an indiscriminate senseless preplanned murder of an innocent living being and there should be some serious consequences for this complete disregard for life, an utter lack of self control, and zero moral decency. These two people likely have some serious psychological issues to deal with and they will need professional help while in the midst of punishment.

    1. If Marinna Rollins was actually diagnosed with PTSD, she clearly needs some intensive in-patient counseling. After that, or at the same time, the civilian should punish her.

    2. Marinna Rollins should be heavily fined (many thousands of dollars) and forced to do a huge pile of community service or jailed, she should never be allowed to legally own a firearm again, and never be legally allowed to own a dog again.

    3. Heng should have had the discipline to take active measures to prevent this from happening, not been an active part of it. The Army should close the book on Heng after they punish and counsel him; he cannot be trusted to act in accordance with military standards of discipline. Jerren Heng has earned his double jeopardy, one via the UCMJ and the other via the civilian courts. Based on what I read, I think Jarren Heng can be prosecuted under the UCMJ for his part in this senseless act of killing an innocent living being and could likely be stripped of his current rank and demoted at least a couple of steps in combination with confinement for a period of time and/or dishonorably discharged. Heng should receive extensive counseling from a professional in the military while being punished. I think there is a zero tolerance from the United States military for things like this and rightfully so.

    4. The civilian court system should have their way with Heng after the Army is done with him; the civilian court should dish out the exact same punishment as Marinna Rollins in #2.

    Yes, I know I’m a hard ass.

  8. A couple people have used the phrase “throw the book at them.” I would echo that, in the sense of bringing all possible charges, without leaving any smaller charges on the table. Push the maximum for each, have them run consecutively. Push for maximum fines where’s there’s a fine. Make it clear that we respect the law, but that there’s literally no give in this case. The People have no goodwill to provide them.

    • I wonder though if the people asking the book be thrown at them actually knows what that means though, and would be content with the most robust punishment under the law.

      Most jurisdictions penalties for animal abuse are, in my opinion, inadequate…. They never carry jail time, and the largest maximum fine I’ve ever heard of was $10,000 (But most jurisdictions are significantly less). And those maximums are almost never met. In a case like this… There are so many moving parts I have no idea, it might get to the max…. Maybe. But a much more common case… Say… A neighbor who maliciously kills your pet because they hate pets…. Or a burglar who kills your animal with B&Eing. By far the most likely legal outcome is the neighbor paying to replace the animal, with absolutely no care given to the sentimental value of your pet.

      • I am writing this with my cat licking my hand and my dog at the entry to my office where she can keep an eye on me.

        To follow on to your thought HT – what about the legal B&E (i.e., no-knock entry) where in some jurisdictions is seems to be SOP to shoot any dog that looks at all intimidating. What should the legal ramifications of that be?

        • I don’t think that’s a valid comparison… There are public interests and rules in play with a no knock, and the policeman that feels threatened has been tasked with entering the premise to serve that public interest. As opposed to during a B&E, where someone chose to be in a place they were legally unable to be.

          It’s the right call. After a no-knock, generally the homeowner is reimbursed, and in the case of a pet it’s the same replacement cost. It sucks… But you have to weight the options and interests involved, and there’s no math that makes anything else reasonable.

          • I asked my friend the police chief about this issue. His answer: police are there to do a job, danger is always a possibility, and if the dog presents any chance of interfering, the policy is to shoot the dog. This drives Jonathan Turley and Reason nuts, but I understand the reason for it.

            • I understand the reason for it as well. I just don’t get how they determine some of these lap dogs they shoot present a threat to them.

              • Yes, or puppies. I was told that they don’t have the time to make individual calls based on size or breed, because a momentary distraction can–and has—get a cop killed. We only hear about this issue when the police go to the wrong house. If they capture and subdue a killer, a terrorist, or a wanted criminal, we never hear, “Aw, but they shot the dog!”

  9. They should get whatever the maximum possible penalty is and never be allowed to own another animal (and I don’t even want to think about her ever having a child). PTSD doesn’t have anything to do with this premeditated killing which was so much fun for her that she had to giggle and laugh about it and have a recording to remember it by. I’m going to go play with our dog and try to forget about this.

    • And how does a media specialist stationed in South Korea get PTSD? I suppose it is possible, but my relatives stationed there are having a great time (with, now, some apprehension about the current tensions).

      • Other than combat, the most common cause of PTSD among military members is being the victim of rape or other sexual assault. But even if that is the case here, it still is not a justification or explanation for what she did.

  10. Another example of just how terrible animal abuse is terrible. While there has been progress, including the reclassification of animal abuse by the FBI, making it easier to punish those guilty of this terrible crime, in most states this is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. It should be a felony and punished as such. PTSD is not a mitigating reason. It was an obviously premeditated murder.

  11. i’m going to take an unpopular stance and say that, having read the article, I don’t have enough information on what they actually did to the dog and why to make a judgement.

    What we know is:
    1) They shot the dog in the head.
    2) They shot the dog some more after that.
    3) The were not respectful of the situation.

    I’m totally comfortable saying they’re crazy, and need psychiatric help, but past that what I would need to know is:

    1) Did the first shot kill the dog? This is the most important question to me. If they had decided to kill the dog, and used a gun to do it, and it worked with the first shot, I’m not sure that’s animal cruelty, however they behaved about the situation. There are many reasons people decide to put down pets, and some of them are crazy, but we accept them because people have different relationships with pets. If the dog didn’t suffer, it’s hard to say it’s more cruel than animal shelters that euthanize. And shooting an animal after it’s dead is clearly crazy, but also not technically cruel.

    2) Why did they think they were doing this? Even if something that made the dog impossible to keep and that was totally their fault, and they were also crazy (say they believed it was actually a demon, and they celebrated the destruction of evil or something) that changes the nature of the crime. I mean, it would have to, because we’re all caught up on what we’re assuming was their reason (for kicks.) So knowing what they thought their reason was is kind of important here.

    The reaction of the police certainly indicates that I wouldn’t be satisfied with the answers to those questions — if they did torture the dog for fun they deserve to be treated as dangerous criminals — but I’m not totally comfortable jumping to conclusions.

    I do think that we’ve moved too far into assuming that animals should be thought of and treated as family, when people have many uses for animals that are not loving but also not inherently cruel. I remember a situation a few years ago where a woman got in trouble for leaving a pig in a car while she ran into the grocery store — the pig was on its way to the butchers.

    • According to other reports I have found on-line including from WLBZ in Bangor and The New York Post among others we also know:
      1) The actual owner of the dog, her estranged husband, was willing to take him back if necessary
      2) Prior to killing the dog she posted on Facebook “Great last day with the pooch! Sad he has to go, he will be much happier where he is headed off to:)”
      3) Her accomplice replied to that “He’s gonna have such a great new life” and added a smiley face emoji
      4) She had a recording made of the killing and believe it or not sent it to her sister who is the one who reported it to the police
      5) They did not own a firearm and had to go out and buy the gun that was used
      6) The dog was healthy and about 3 or 4 years old
      7) I cannot bring myself to watch any of the video but it is reported that she said, “I love you, you’re my puppy, you’re a good puppy. . .”
      There are more details available including a more detailed history of the entire sequence of events.

      I’m totally comfortable saying they’re crazy, and need psychiatric help There is nothing to indicate that they are crazy, that is legally insane. Many people who are not “crazy” do bad things and the vast majority of the people I have dealt with who are diagnosed as being “crazy” (and I have worked with thousands of them) have not been dangerous. Crazy is not a synonym for violates the rules of civilized society and is a totally contemptible person.

      “Did the first shot kill the dog?” This is of interest only in so far as how much the dog additionally suffered. I hope it died instantly not suffering and not knowing the human it loved was torturing it. Clearly she didn’t care about whether the dog suffered as evidenced by her laughter and other actions. The mere act of continuing to inflict damage for no legitimate reason, such as butchering for meat, on a creature you know to be dead is pathological.

      Yes, there are a number of legitimate reasons to put down a pet animal but to get your jollies is not one of them. Note that she absolutely knew that there was an appropriate way for her to get rid of the dog without killing it. She could put it in a shelter for adoption, where it originally came from, or give it back to her estranged husband. She implied if not outright stated in her Facebook posts that was what she was doing. I have lived in the country where it is not unusual for people to put down their own pets when the time has come because of old age or such. The people I have known who have done that are incredibly torn up over it. It is a very hard thing to do. The don’t laugh about it and make videos to send to their family.

      “Why did they think they were doing this?” Good question. People do commit horrendous crimes such as killing their children because of psychosis. But just looking at the timeline of the story and her actions before the event, such as the made up story on Facebook, I don’t see anything that would suggest psychosis. Alcohol and drugs may have been involved but even if so that does not relieve her of any responsibility. My thoughts are that her accomplice (boyfriend) who was reported to be controlling wanted to get rid of the dog because it represented a link to her estranged husband. I think his reported comment, “Let me hit him once” was a symbolic act directed at her estranged husband. It is interesting to note that significant others who are controlling and abusive often use threats or actual violence toward pets as one means of abusing their victims. I don’t know what she was thinking but I do know that there is no indication of psychosis in the information available, the dog was not ill, and she had other ways of getting it out of her house that did not require harming it in any way.

      “I do think that we’ve moved too far into assuming that animals should be thought of and treated as family, when people have many uses for animals that are not loving but also not inherently cruel. I remember a situation a few years ago where a woman got in trouble for leaving a pig in a car while she ran into the grocery store — the pig was on its way to the butchers.

      PETA is an example of people who have moved too far in the direction of assuming that animals are humans. I am an animal lover and I am also a meat eater and thus have to accept that the ham sandwich I had yesterday could only exist because a pig was slaughtered. If you check, you will find that there are regulations about slaughtering animals and they all demand that it must be done in the most humane fashion possible. I assume the pig on the way to the butchers would face as humane a death as possible. Leaving it in a hot car to suffer prior to that was cruelty. To believe otherwise is to believe that it is OK to do whatever we want to inmates on death row because after all we are going to kill them anyway.

      • “I am an animal lover and I am also a meat eater and thus have to accept that the ham sandwich I had yesterday could only exist because a pig was slaughtered. If you check, you will find that there are regulations about slaughtering animals and they all demand that it must be done in the most humane fashion possible. I assume the pig on the way to the butchers would face as humane a death as possible. Leaving it in a hot car to suffer prior to that was cruelty. To believe otherwise is to believe that it is OK to do whatever we want to inmates on death row because after all we are going to kill them anyway.”

        I’m afraid you’re blissfully ignorant here. I live on Delmarva, home of Perdue and several other chicken farming outfits. If we have a hot summer, chickens explode in the coops. They have fans, but those don’t do much for a tin building full of animals (usually as many as will fit) in 100 degree heat, and air conditioning or more spacious housing would raise the price of chicken — one of the cheapest meats for people without a lot of money for food.

        That’s without getting into the factory farm treatment of other animals, which I’ve only seen reported so I can’t verify how common or widespread it is. And animal slaughtering isn’t done in the *most* humane way possible (though I hear if you care about that, you should buy kosher) though we don’t allow extreme cruelty and there have been improvements in those conditions (that was Temple Grandin’s work back in the 1980s, if I recall.)

        We balance humane treatment of livestock with cost and convenience. No one is trying to be cruel to them, but their lives are part of a bottom line that’s a piece of what allows human civilization.

        • (Oh, one other thing I can report from experience: if you care about the humane treatment of livestock, absolutely do not buy organic or antibiotic free milk and beef. Farmers will keep the cows isolated and indoors most of their lives to avoid them getting ill and requiring treatment that would ruin their organic status. (A friend worked for a non-organic dairy farm that was purchased by Horizon. She was not at all happy with the treatment of the animals after the change.))

          • Didn’t see this before my reply post. My daughter’s best friend’s father in Indiana was a dairy farmer (not organic) and I talked to him about this. I was truly amazed about how much information he tracked to keep up on the health of his cows and get the best yields. His cows spent a lot of time in the pasture.

        • I do differentiate between pets and livestock. I once lived in Indiana near a number of chicken and pig farms and when growing up spent a lot of time on my grandmother’s farm where they did their own slaughtering, I know there are problems that arise because of the economics of raising animals on a large scale for food and I accept that. Those economic necessities do not justify gratuitous cruelty. The farmers I knew were interested in maintaining the best environment possible for their animals because keeping them healthy increased income. I agree that Kosher is probably the best choice but I do like my ham sandwiches.

          I did not mean my comments as a criticism of your points, which raise good questions, but simply as my thoughts about the answers based on information I have read about this. I agree that it is important for investigators to find out as much as they can about what actually happened. As I said, I have my guesses about why and am pretty confident the pair of them are not legally insane but there is definitely a lot more to learn about this event before making a final legal disposition.

  12. Here’s a question: If a competent psychotherapist prescribes her a new therapy dog, does she have a right to adopt one?

    As to punishment, it depends. I’m assuming they’ll plead down some, that the soldier will face consequences from the military, that neither have serious criminal histories, and that the dog was not sick. Based on that, I’d stick them with six months or so probation and get them to agree to psychological treatment.

    I’m a dog lover but I’m also a huge fan of rehabilitation; these guys need shrinks and some time with no guns or booze.

    It’s fortunate, however, that they chose to join the military instead of becoming police. If they had, there would be a long trail of dead dogs behind them and no consequences ahead.

  13. Pets are put down in horrific ways every day. I am still scarred from the some of the deaths I witnessed on our farm — especially when it came to cat control. I don’t recall my dad ever shooting a dog, but I do remember people dropping their dogs off fairly frequently. (People in the burbs often dump their unwanted pets on farms.).

    • Growing up rural, animal management is a way of life. You care for ‘commercial’ animals and you care for ‘pets.’ Confusing the two causes problems with regards to ‘final disposition.’ You never torture the animal (as this was considered a lack of character and a sign of a dangerous person) but attempt to make the act as painless as possible. (Note this is why you never hunt deer with an insufficient caliber, or take low probability shots that may wound but not quickly lower the target’s blood pressure to induce unconsciousness. Not only is is more humane, but also prevents the meat from being tainted or lost.)

      A good working definition of a commercial animal versus a pet is what type of profits are earned on the animal. We (generally) keep and pay for pets for emotional reasons (a type of profit), and do not expect monetary profit. Commercial animal are for food and profit. The line can blur, as in the case of military bomb dogs or ‘barn’ cats, but this generally is the case. It is a pet if you cannot bear to think of eating it. Cows can be pets. Dogs can be junk yard guard animals. The owner’s feelings make the difference.

      I remember some folks who were unable to kill their show chickens, pigs, sheep, (or whatever) for delivery to the buyer (who did not bid on a live animal, and paid well over market value to support the college aspirations of the seller.) The Ag teacher’s advice was to never name a meat production animal, if you intend to sell it. Reluctance to complete the life cycle of such animals indicated the person was not suited to that sort of rural agricultural activity. Go grow corn if you like, but don’t raise beef. There was no shame in this: find what you like to do and do it. But make no mistake: anyone who has cared for 20 pigs knows they are NOT pets, and they EAT a lot which has to be paid for.

      The ‘pet’ category does NOT include all dogs, cats, ferrets, and so on. (I have a hard time believing even ‘domesticated’ snakes are pets, but that is just me) Such are a detriment to a farm or ranch, when released to fend for themselves (or allowed to roam,) and as such were subject to summary execution in the interest of the land owner. For instance, known goat killers who happen to be pets of a careless neighbor were dealt with by calling the Sheriff first. If the neighbor ignored the ‘chain your dogs’ instruction, we had no compunction about protecting our animals just like we did with coyotes, foxes, snakes, and birds of prey. Most of the time the offending pet just disappeared, as it was stupid to pick a fight with someone who did not care enough for their own pets to control them. If your animal was on MY land, YOU are at fault. I have shot dogs for hunting deer (especially in deer season) on my property, same as I have coyotes. Poisonous snakes are hunted down and removed, one way or the other (other snakes are left alone.) They were impeding my ability to feed my family.

      Abandoned pets’ treatment depended on how they impacted the homestead. Many were just adopted, but the economic and emotional limits of adoption could cause summary execution as well. If the pet was not domesticated any longer (aggressive to humans and/or animals, attacking livestock, destroying property, and so on) they get shot.

      Nor does the ‘pet’ designation include wild animals, especially those that are subject to hunting. Unless you control the animal’s access to leave your property (think high fence ranch) and other’s ability to hunt on that property (in Texas, the property owner says who can hunt) you cannot claim a wild animal as a pet. Situation many years ago with my wife’s family (who are not ‘normal’) where they ‘adopted’ a doe by feeding her until they could pet her. They put a collar on the little dear (spelling is correct) but did not control the land the animal lived on. When legal hunting commenced, they blew a gasket thinking someone might have shot their deer. They even held a hunter at gunpoint to demand to see a harvested animal (it was not theirs). Crazy!

      Wild animals are just that: wild. We have laws dealing with them. They live by the law of the jungle (woods? plains? pasture? 🙂 )

      deery said: “can a lay person kill a non-attacking, healthy dog they own, or is that something only vets and those who work for shelters can do? And if they can, under what circumstances?”

      What if the ‘pet’ is a chicken killer? What about it mauled a child? If it is in pain? If there is no hope of survival due to age, injury, or illness?

      Pets sometimes have to be put down, whatever the reason. Making laws about that fact, minus cruel and unusual treatment, is an intrusion into the private property rights of citizens. People normally are not going to harm those they love, and if it happens, something is badly awry.

      I hope I have shown a little considered viewpoint to my urban friends.

  14. Putting aside… Everything else… Can we all agree that the article giving out Rollins and Heng’s address is more than mildly inappropriate? Especially in light of the article explicitly stating: “[Rollin’s ex-hiusband]…asked that he not be named because of the death threats Rollins and Heng are facing.” You know… maybe the pink polka dotted bra and gun tattoo on Rollins’ cleavage was newsworthy… But their home address?

  15. A question that comes to me, is why did this woman need an emotional support dog? Did she actually experience combat or some other life threatening traumatic event? Or is it a matter of her having a drill sargeant yell at her during basic and her being “traumatized” by this experience. There is a lot of confusion between “emotional support animals” and service dogs which are trained to perform a specific task. It will be interesting to see the facts that emerge from further investigation.

  16. I agree that the people should be punished. However, the popularity of this sentiment is almost disturbing to me because it shows that, in the hierarchy of human values, animals now rank above unborn human beings.

    • You have made a good point. Reminds of the theoretical dilemma of “if you were in a rowboat and saw a dog drowning and a stranger and could only rescue one, which would you choose?” Still, extreme brutality applies to both animals and humans and both should be harshly punished unless they perpetrator is psychotic or cannot judge right from wrong.

    • The dog in this case was capable of feeling pain and of experiencing the world; the vast majority of unborn human beings are not at the time of abortion. I do value beings that can think and feel pain over those who cannot. We also have to consider the value of the born human being who is being asked to carry the unborn human to term.

      • For a long time scientists believed that lower invertebrates like worms felt no pain. Now they aren’t so sure. The dividing line between when embryos feel pain or not is just about as troublesome as the line separating when they qualify as human lives. Late term abortions cause pain to the unborn being torn to bits. And valuing beings that can think and feel pain over those who cannot., while part of the balancing process, isn’t all of it, as you know. This is why the most devoted pro-abortion advocates don’t want to acknowledge the existence of a second being at all. Once you do, the ethical calculus becomes infinitely more complicated.

        None of which is exactly germane to the post.

        • I apologize if it was off-topic. I thought it was an interesting analog for abortion issues.

          In reply to Chris:

          “The dog in this case was capable of feeling pain and of experiencing the world; the vast majority of unborn human beings are not at the time of abortion.”

          I agree, and I think this is part of what we need to consider when deciding whether a fetus is a “human” worthy of being treated as such. However, I certainly don’t think it’s dispositive. A comatose person may not think or feel pain, but I don’t think that alone justifies that person being treated as not having the right to life.

          “We also have to consider the value of the born human being who is being asked to carry the unborn human to term.”

          Agreed. And in the situation of the owner of a pet (this is, of course, an imperfect analogy, as I think all analogies to pregnancy and abortion end up being), the owner has to take on economic costs in caring for it. In some cases, a pet can be a real burden on the owner.

          What I am trying to illustrate, is that framing abortion as a women’s rights issue shows a value judgment that a gestating human is worth less than a dog, because where the dog has rights that limit those of its owner, the gestating human does not.

  17. I’m surprised no one has mentioned that this is only news because the accused put it on social media. This happens to animals everyday but folks don’t usually film & post such events. For me this story is more a comment on the social media cult of “pay attention to me at any cost” as well as privacy. After all if they hadn’t posted their folly we wouldn’t be having this particular discussion.

    I agree these people have done something intrinsically wrong, but this wrong is now on display for our self righteous indignation. Such indignation is entertaining & passes the time, but perhaps something is lost by trying to decide what should happen to *these* people in *this* story.

    It’s kind of a tree falling in the forest conundrum. If the abusers don’t post it, is it still a crime to be punished, since we wouldn’t have otherwise known about it? Of course it is, but without the post, we wouldn’t know about in the first place.

  18. I am horrified, as is everyone else. But this incident does bring up several questions — separate from the fact that these sadists deserve the firing squad:

    First, every culture of humans, at the top of the food chain, decide over time which animals are food and which are pets. You can see photos of skinned dogs hanging on racks in China for sale at grocery stores; in India, cows are sacred;, etc., etc. A Vietnam vet who drove me in a helicopter group tour on Maui who watched us interact with the Australian cattle dog we met in Hana commented that that dog would have been food for most of the Vietnamese, with no decision-making at all about whether the dog was food or a pet. Most of us know what ducks suffer at the hands of breeders to create the pate’ we so adore, and how calves are made actually ill so their livers are affected so their flesh is whiter than healthy cattle and we can eat veal. Yet we continue to eat those meats. After I saw “Babe” (about 10 times because my son was young and he loved it), I vowed never to eat pork again. Embarrassingly, this lasted only a few months. Some “game” hunters (geese, deer, etc.) actually eat what they shoot; others kill them just for fun. In the West, anyway.

    I have begun to believe that so many of these animals below us in the food chain are in fact sentient beings that I should become a milk-and-egg vegetarian. I haven’t done this, for a number of selfish reasons, I assume.

    So, the “pet-or-food” conundrum is not really answerable at this time. Realistically, the world of humans simply cannot become vegetarians, vegans, or whatever.

    But (2), EACH CULTURE MUST OBEY ITS OWN RULES ABOUT ANIMALS. In this country and most of the West, dogs are either pets or working animals who are cherished for the love and service they provide. This is ingrained in us from early childhood. And though we all know that there is an undefined group that does not agree with this ethic (Michael Vick, e.g.), those who do not act within it are punished and animals are saved.

    What this couple did to that loving (and shocked) poor dog is not just cruelty, it is totally outside the boundaries of Western human behavior. It is psychopathic sadism, pure and simple.

    So, the larger issues aside, these two need to go to jail, and in my opinion, for a long time. This is anti-social, psychopathic behavior,and though they need to pay society back for this, I have no sense whatsoever that jail time will change their attitudes. Nor do I think that this kind of real sickness can be aided “psychologically..” They will be mean-spirited, sick people regardless of what happens to them from this one incident.

    It’s easy enough to say that they are a danger to society, that most serial killers start with animals, and that these two will see jail time. But that begs the real question:

    What do we do with this kind of sociopath in our culture?

    And the larger issue, for me:

    Murderers (of humans) are pariahs in our society, and pay the price. Murderers (or abusers) of animals that are not considered livestock or game are treated as pariahs as well. However, “murderers” of livestock and/or game, are simply businessmen or sportsmen of various kinds. This is our culture, our ethic, strange and irrational as it may seem.

    So these guys will go to jail, because somehow they have ended up outside the big circle of morals and ethics that 99% of our population believe in; and they will be punished, as examples to the rest of society. This process has been extant since the beginning of civilization.

    But to me, the larger question still remains: Why — in our enlightened society today — do we need a “Humane Farming Association,” for example? Do we treat the animals that are considered food with the respect they deserve? (See “Last of the Mohicans,” and what the Indian hunters say to the deer they have just killed for food.) We do not. Slaughterhouses are abbattoirs of cruelty. But this is all right, because they’re FOOD. Do that to my cat or dog and you’re going to get it.

    How do we fix this? Or can we? I just don’t know.

    I’d appreciate input on both questions.

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