In memory of all those who suffer
from the chosen silence of others.
May we always grow towards the light in respectful remembrance
of those who die due to darkness.
Where to begin where to begin. A timeline perhaps. But backwards. Sometimes tracing steps and events in reverse is more productive when it comes to asking things like why and how. So we start at the end and go back to the beginning.
Child kills classmates.
Child gets a weapon and excessive amount of ammunition.
Child posts on social media his intentions and obsessions.
Child endures multiple losses and rejections that aggravate an already fragile and dangerous mental state.
Child graduates to acts of juvenile delinquency like vandalism, property damage, petty theft.
Child engages in various attention-getting behaviors such as self harm, suicide threats or attempts, lack of self hygiene, general disregard for their own well-being.
Child has trouble making friends or maintaining basic relationships with peers.
Child becomes socially reclusive, withdrawn, and struggles with school and other normal responsibilities.
Child experiments with hurting, torturing, and/or mutilating animals, either wild animals caught or domestics owned by neighbors or the family.
Child is denied the physical and/or psychological tools to navigate trauma and struggles with expressing basic emotions like anger, vulnerability, and powerlessness.
Child experiences or witnesses trauma or abuse, leading to feelings of pain, helplessness, fear, and anxiety.
The series of events listed here can describe a multitude of individuals responsible for recent events, most notably school shootings. It also describes many adults who eventually became famous for their decisions to inflict harm on others, many of which did not use semi or fully automatic weapons to inflict suffering on their victims, but instead the more traditional handguns, rifles, knives, or even bare hands. The ridiculously large, powerful, and quite frankly useless-unless-you-are-involved-in-trench-warfare-guns have definitely made it easier for these individuals to get their point across. In my opinion there really is no reason for these weapons to be placed in civilian hands in a civilized world.
Lets take a moment to investigate those who didn’t need AR15s to make their mark on society. I will also make notes on one thing they all have in common, and we’ll see if we can narrow down maybe a consistency, maybe a behavior or display, something that was noticed early on by acquaintances and family that could have served as a warning sign to what was on the horizon. And yes I do realize my sarcasm is not subliminal.
Jeffrey Dahmer: mutilated dead animals, and decapitated a dog, nailing it’s body to a tree and staking the head on a wooden cross. Albert DeSalvo: used to catch dogs and cats and place them in boxes to shoot arrows at them. Brenda Spencer: used to light the tails of neighborhood dogs and cats on fire. John Wayne Gacy: admitted to filling balloons with gasoline and throwing them at turkeys, to eventually light the birds on fire. No automatic weapons were needed for them to eventually scar society and ruin lives.
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold bonded over their emotional turmoil, including their joint interest in mutilating animals, which they bragged to other classmates about. And many kids are coming forward now, recollecting how Nikolas Cruz spoke of hurting animals often.
So despite the studies and statistical evidence that links animal torture and abuse to violence again people, why do so many continue to turn their heads when faced with it? Why do these kids, who are now on television admitting they knew this type of activity was occurring, seem to not know it is something they could have reported, that they SHOULD have reported, not simply ignored? Where have we failed our children in teaching them that this horrendous behavior should send a lighting bolt of fear down their spine, followed swiftly by an electric shock of action involving telling a teacher, an animal control officer, a police officer, even another parent who can take the concern higher? What have we as a society done that inspires kids to do nothing more than shrug their shoulders and walk away from someone who willingly admits they enjoy watching another creature suffer in pain?
The government is now trying to keep better track of crimes against animals, but the reports from local agencies are still voluntary and unfortunately many agencies still don’t take the link seriously. We need stronger laws and better resources. But we can’t fight these demons, and illustrate to those in charge that we need the resources and legislation to fight these demons, if these crimes continue to go unreported. We need to document how common these crimes are, and the importance of the tremendous effect on society that the people who commit them have.
I once responded to a raccoon in a trap with another deceased outside the trap. The man of the house, after catching the raccoon that had been coming into his garage to eat the dog food (that he was leaving out), had a baby with her who huddled next to the cage to be with his mother after she had been trapped. The man took a baseball bat to the baby, in front of it’s mother, killing it and leaving it there in a puddle of blood for me to dispose of. Management told me there was nothing I could do in regards to this blatant and deliberate act of cruelty. Tell me that man is not beating his wife or kids.
Standing at a doorway while waiting for a dog owner to retrieve paperwork, I witness a 3-year-old child standing next to a medium sized ten-year-old dog. The dog barks at me once, and the small child turns towards it and repeatedly with all his might kicks the dog in the abdomen. The dog hardly noticed, even though the child was obviously trying his hardest to make a point. The only thing more disturbing than the act was the indifferent reaction of the parent when I informed him of what I witnessed the child doing. Obviously a learned behavior from an adult in the home, who probably displays the same problem solving tactics with the children.
Guns are not the problem. Not selling guns and thinking it will solve this problem would be similar to insisting that if we stopped selling large pieces of plywood and hinges dog fighters would stop fighting because they wouldn’t have the tools to build a pit. Guns are merely one of the tools that people suffering from a long developed psychological predicament use to achieve the ultimate and usually final satisfaction. The dark path that leads them to an automatic weapon and a mass shooting is excavated at a very young age, and continuously cultivated as these individuals experience disappointment, abuse, rejection, and the sometimes chosen ignorance of those around them. The signs are there, we dust them off during the reactive mourning periods once the smoke has cleared, and time after time we utter the same words…why didn’t anyone say anything.
I am an animal control officer. I am here for the animals, as much as I am here for the people. IF YOU LET ME, I can be the first line of defense when it comes to intervention, education, and enforcement. I am the eyes and ears for other agencies, and want to serve as a bridge to get people the help that they need when they begin wandering down that dark path. When you find out someone is being cruel to animals, tell me. I want to be a part of the solution when it comes to hurt people who hurt people, because so often they start by hurting animals.
But I can’t do anything if you don’t say anything.