By Sarah Wagner
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop)– When it comes to our furry friends, good fortune and fair treatment hasn’t always been an unwavering guarantee.
There is no doubt about it, animal cruelty is against the law. But from puppy mills to dog fighting to exotic pet trade, animal cruelty still occurs all over the world. The term “all over the world,” however, takes on a new sting when intentional harm is done to animals close to home.
For some, it’s difficult to imagine an innocent animal being neglected or abused. Abuse can come in many forms. Animal hoarding, blood sports, chaining and tethering, and animals in entertainment are all various types of animal cruelty with varying degrees of vitality. When it comes to 20-year-old Meghan O’Connor, a Chattanooga native and adamant animal lover, there was no holding back.
“I think someone who could abuse an animal has a sick and twisted notion of morality,” she said. She even went on to say that people who are okay with harming or having aggressive behavior towards an animal are at a higher risk of causing harm to another human being.
Chattanooga has seen its fair share of animal cruelty over the years. Most recently, a man from Hixson faced cruelty charges for having 19 Chihuahuas cooped up in trailer with temperature at 101 degrees. None of the dogs were vaccinated or registered with the city. All dogs were brought to the McKamey Animal Shelter.
Ashley Quarles, a Chattanooga owner of four dogs, said that animal abuse is “heartless” behavior and the worst kind of abuse. “They are innocents,” she said, “yet they still have the ability to suffer.”
However, in a society where opinions are extremely diverse, many people disagree on how serious of a crime animal cruelty should be. Quarles thinks the punishment for animal cruelty should be nothing but severe.
“Not only are those people committing horrible crimes, but it is also scary to think what else they are capable of and might do without punishment and remediation,” she said.
Although charges and punishments for animal cruelty are circumstantial and given on a case-to-case basis, it’s safe to say that the abuse of animals is taken more seriously today than ever before.
Many try to stop animal cruelty. Organizations like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) are not only trying to raise awareness of it, but are also trying to prevent it. Through their website, you can learn how to recognize animal cruelty when you see it and even report it. Many other organizations are going to the same cause.
“At the end of the day, my pets are like family,” O’Connor said, “I love them very much and could never in a million years imagine hurting one of them.”