The world we live in today isn’t the same one I grew up in. In some ways, it’s better. But in other ways, it can scare me. Far too often when we turn on the news another tragic and unnecessary shooting has taken place. I ask myself what can we do to stop this from happening. Recently I came across this article from Time Magazine, and it has been a conversation we in the animal welfare industry have talked about for years. But maybe now people will start to listen.

According to reports, Salvador Ramos would regularly perform acts of animal cruelty – to include killing cats – and post it on social media. In one report, his mother is alleged to help him bury a cat he had killed. Nothing happens on social media without being seen. We post things to social media to be seen.

Then he walked into a school and gunned down 19 kids and 2 teachers.

We are all responsible for ensuring that our children are safe. We are all responsible for doing something. Michigan Humane can do something.

We can recognize that it is a fact that animal cruelty, especially at a young age, is an indicator of serious conduct disorders and future dangerous behavior. This has been researched and proven over decades. Most serial killers, and now we are finding those who commit mass shootings in any form, have a history of animal abuse before “moving on” to taking human life.

We can recognize animal cruelty as an indicator of human violence and not simply an act of animal cruelty. It is a societal issue – not an animal issue. It is a safety issue in our neighborhoods – not an animal issue. Recognizing this issue early, and taking action, can be one thing we can do to protect our children.

I cannot sit here and say this is the “key” to preventing the next school shooting. I can say that it is a legitimate part. Whether you have a passion for them or not, animals are key indicators of the health and safety of our communities.

Animal abuse is not normal behavior at any age. It is not acceptable behavior in any form. It would be irresponsible of me to say that “looking back” we could have stopped this. As a parent to four children, I am lost. I am heartbroken. I am angry.

I can say, however, that there is enough evidence and studies to be able to ask the question “what if?”. What if someone had said something? What if someone had done something? What if someone would have connected the dots and saw these acts of animal cruelty as a sign of mental illness and recognized them as dangerous behavior?

All we can ask is “what if?” and ask ourselves what we will do next time? If we do nothing there will be a next time. Will I speak up?

I truly believe that Michigan Humane can help. “Humanity”, to be “humane”, is not a word limited to animals. It is a word we can extend to our neighbors. We can provide opportunities for humane and compassionate behavior, through our pets, towards everyone in Metro Detroit. We alone can’t solve the problem. But however small it may seem, we can do something.

Photo credit: Michigan Humane

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