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Reg McKay: Abusers of animals are a threat to us all.

Byline: Reg McKay

WITH violence to humans soaring on our streets, should we bother about cruelty to animals? Or is it part of the same problem?

One of the myths about Brits is that we love animals. It is true and a matter of great shame that we introduced laws to protect animals long before we thought of protecting kids.

But that was about cash, not care. Food-producing cows, sheep and pigs and work animals like horses and even donkeys were essential to the economy.

If people abused them, the economy slipped.

Can't have that, eh.

As ever, dough came first, then came familiarity.

But there has always been cruelty.

Dog fights to the death, cocks killing each other with sharpened steel spurs, badger baiting - all that and more used to be legal sport.

Making them illegal hasn't stopped them, just driven them underground.

Believe me, you don't have to be a dog lover to have your stomach heave at the agonising yelps of some poor pooch being savaged to death.

What sort of person enjoys that obscenity? A very dangerous person indeed and there's a lot of them about.

Two different cases this week gave me the dry boak.

The guy given community service for hanging his pet dog and the bloke who snipped off his goldfish's tail with scissors because he was bored.

The guy who killed the goldfish doesn't seem to be very well, but exactly how stable is the dog hanger? ? And how common?

A couple of years back in Paisley, a senior citizen had words with rowdy youths hanging around his sheltered house.

Next day, he could only look on in horror as the same bunch set their big dogs on his too trusting cats.

The cats were ripped apart.The old boy's heart was broken. Other poor tabbies were killed in the area for months.Yet who I worry about most are those young men and the people they meet in the future.

We've known for over 30 years that cruelty to animals is a sign of other deep-rooted problems. Not just one vicious act.Who among us hasn't dished that out at least once as we're growing up? But repeated and extreme violence to animals is the worry, and not just for the beasts.

A young kid into torturing moggies is likely to bean abuse victim himself. It's as if he's acting out his own hurt and despair through the pain and torture he inflicts on the weaker animal.

Tragic? Absolutely, but it's also a sign no one should ignore. Round my neck of the woods recently, dead seagulls littered the roads thanks to an idiot with a .22 slug gun.

Won't be long before he lowers the barrel and shoots some human.

But there are even more worrying types of childhood animal tormentors. Every serial killer.

No cat in the Gorbals was safe from Moors murderer Ian Brady. Gay killer Dennis Neilson dissected alive any wildlife he captured on the beach at Fraserburgh.

Child killer Robert Black had two teenage hobbies in Falkirk - sexually assaulting girls and hurting beasts.

Spotting these patterns could be the most effective weapon we have in picking up on child abuse early and stopping thrill-killers before they start.

In spite of depending on charity, the animal welfare agencies do wonderful work.

The troops of recently rebranded Scottish SPCA are the ones who go out and save animals north of the border.The folk of the Dogs Trust are so caring they refuse to put down any healthy dog. Quite right, too.

While at their main business of saving animal lives, these agencies come across the abused abusers.

And every now and then, the ones who need a great deal of help or lives will be lost in the future.

We're all responsible, of course.Would we turn our backs on a child being hurt by an adult? Of course not.

Nor should we ignore some poor creature being hurt by a human. Stop them pronto and you'll save lives - the beast's and maybe some day some human being's.

That has to be a good thing
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 5, 2005
Words:688
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