Recently, pet lovers in Wisconsin and beyond were stunned and horrified to hear of the torture and death of a German Shepherd-Labrador mix dog named Mary in Wausau. According to news and court reports, Mary was subjected to poisoning, beating and a gruesome stabbing death by her owner’s girlfriend. The 20-year-old suspect presently faces up to 5 years in jail and a $30,000 fine. A preliminary hearing is slated for October 31st in Marathon County.
The criminal complaint stated that the suspect kept a disturbing journal detailing months of torture, appearing to revel in the dog's pain and suffering.
Alyson Bodai, Wisconsin State Director, The Humane Society of the United States, just released this statement in response to this criminal act: “The intentional killing of Mary is rightfully sparking outrage. Prosecutors need strong animal cruelty laws to crack down on abusers, and states are also adopting laws allowing judges to issue pet protective orders to protect all victims of family violence. The Humane Society of the United States hopes that justice is done in this case, and that animal abusers get the message that killing a defenseless animal is a serious crime.”
Hopefully, justice will be served. It is absolutely heart-breaking to think of the torture and abuse Mary faced prior to her death.
Much like children, companion animals are vulnerable victims when it comes to abuse in the home. Our pets don’t have a choice on who will raise and care for them.
As the adoptive owner of a dog that was rescued from a physically abusive home, I have seen first-hand the effects of abuse on my dog and constantly seek to reassure her that she is loved unconditionally, much like the devotion she gives to me and that she gave to the owners who abused her.
Pets give us so much love, comfort, and companionship. It’s only right and humane that we ensure their safety. Given what happened to Mary, it’s obvious that we have let our animal friends down. Big time. We need to be vigilant in terms of watching for animal abuse and reporting it. We need to educate people on how to be loving and responsible pet owners. And finally, we need to have strong laws to place animal abusers in jail and keep them from owning pets until they prove that they have earned the right again through incarceration/fines, education and good works.
It’s too late to help Mary but not too late to help other animals living in dangerous environments.
What can you do to help?
1. Educate yourself. There’s a link between animal abuse and human violence.
In the last twenty years, researchers have concluded that people who intentionally abused animals were five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans.
Violent criminals, including serial killers, frequently began their violence by hurting animals as children and young adults. By ignoring animal cruelty, you may unwittingly allow an offender’s thirst and propensity for violence grow.
The Wisconsin Humane Society provides information and resources to concerned citizens through their Anti-Cruelty Information Line: 414-431-6166. They’ll provide you with information to help you be proactive in addressing animal protection concerns in your community.
2. Be an advocate. If you witness abuse or neglect, report it to the authorities. In most cases, that’s your local police department. If you don’t have the number handy and you are witnessing a violent act, dial 9-1-1. Remember: if someone can be that cruel in public to their pet, imagine what goes on behind closed doors.
Here are some warning signs to look for:
· Does the animal have regular access to food, water and shelter?
· Is the animal left outside or chained to a post or tree for hours at a time?
· Have you witnessed someone kicking, beating or hitting a pet with fists or other objects?
· Is the dog's coat extremely matted or nails severely overgrown?
· Does the animal appear overly aggressive or timid?
More signs of neglect and action ideas can be found at the HSUS website www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/tips/cruelty_action.html
3. Save a life. If you don’t have an animal friend in your life or can afford to add another one, adopt one from your local shelter or rescue group. Many of the dogs and cats waiting for homes were abused and neglected. It’s a way to honor Mary’s memory.
And, you’ll be glad that you did. As the late Roger Caras said: “For me a house or an apartment becomes a home when you add one set of four legs, a happy tail, and that indescribable measure of love that we call a dog.”
Follow Mary’s story on Facebook:
See how Wisconsin measures up to other states in animal cruelty laws:
More information on the link between animal cruelty and human violence:
Stay involved and informed on animal issues related to Wisconsin:
Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/wivoters?ref=ts&fref=ts
Humane Society of United States, WI Chapter
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/HSUSWisconsin?ref=ts&fref=ts
Denice Ryan Martin, volunteer with WI Voters for Companion Animals