Do you have a new way to decrease animal abuse? The Texas political blog “Grits for Breakfast” recently had an interesting post asking people to come up with innovative ways to cut down on animal abuse. If you’ve got ’em, bark ’em in to blogger Scott Henson. Who knows? Someone might be listening…
What is the “pro-animal” agenda?
I got to visit yesterday with a friend who works for the Humane Society, who mentioned something I found interesting: I enviously observed that it must be a lot easier to advocate for puppies and kittens than for people caught up in the justice system, to which she replied that the Humane Society policy agenda was “boring.” “It’s all enhancements,” she said, “just increasing penalties for animal cruelty, stuff like that.”
That’s a shame. Nobody is more pro-dog than me (not really a cat person), but it makes little sense to increase penalties for animal cruelty when the current laws go largely unenforced until an animal has already met its untimely demise. If you want to prevent animal cruelty, or investigate allegations thereof, spending greater resources on enforcement on the front end would do a lot more good than punishing the occasional person actually caught more severely.
It shouldn’t be necessary for criminal justice reformers and animal advocates like the Humane Society to be on opposite sides of the political fence. Historically, the knee-jerk, bipartisan first reaction to every social woe is to pass a law against it and increase penalties if the law doesn’t stop it. For many offenses though, like drug use and animal cruelty, that approach has largely failed to stop the behaviors.
So what might a more effective pro-animal political agenda look like that did not focus on increasing criminal penalties?