I was recently asked, by two people: But, if she doesn't get the horses back, and is barred from ever owning horses--isn't that enough?
There's this: if a person had done to other people, or to children, what was done to the two horses in this abuse case, they would, at this juncture, quite possibly be in jail without bail. If children had been found starved, with wounds inflicted by ill fitting clothes and shoes--wounds left ignored for so long that they had caused agony, had become infected, necrotic, life threatening, wounds that would leave physical scars for life--if the victims were children, those responsible would be hauled off in handcuffs, arrested, charged, and held, reviled by all, until the full wrath of our system of justice could send its flaming arrow their way. With crowds cheering.
No one would be asking: But if they don't get the children back, and aren't ever allowed to have other children in their care--isn't that enough?
It is an arrogant attitude, held by many human beings, that we are special. We hurt more, deserve better, are more intelligent: that we deserve to be judged by a different standard than other creatures with who we share this earth. In fact, we are all animals. In fact, we all do feel: loneliness, fear, terror, separation anxieties, that very distinct sensation called Pain, when pain is inflicted upon us. And pain comes to us in many guises. We do all feel sick when we are starved, and agony when flesh and living tissue and nerves are destroyed. And we do all feel despair--when no one will help us. The feeling is, I imagine, worse--when we don't know where to turn for help; when we don't know the language necessary to cry out, when what comes out is a whinny: help. Please help me. A sound no one seems to understand.
This case is not about targeting a person and ruining that person's life. True--if a person is a professional, and they are charged with a felony and then convicted of a felony, their life will be forever changed. They will very possibly lose their professional status, have financial setbacks; they will certainly suffer life changing consequences. They might be considered social outcasts, both here, and elsewhere, if the information becomes known. This case is not about those things. This case is about a crime.
There is a crime a human can commit known as felony animal abuse. Felony animal abuse is committed every day, in many ways, against animals, in this country--but it is rarely called what it is: the infliction of extreme pain; the ruining, scarring, taking, of a life. The charge of animalcide, of course, does not exist--though literally countless numbers of animals are murdered every day--legally and illegally--in the most horrific of circumstances. Often, when a crime that is clearly felony abuse is discovered, lawyers get together and call it misdemeanor abuse, so the courts can go about their business of dealing with the human harming human issues, deemed more important than animal issues, more important than the infliction of pain upon animals. For this very reason, people do, in ways that are sick, deviant, hellish, sadistic--so far beyond cruel--hurt animals, the reason being: they will not suffer substantial punishment, or often, any punishment at all. It's not like the victim was a person, afterall.
And so, animal abuse in this country flourishes. People rarely think twice about abandoning an animal, in any season, in any place, in any condition. People blatantly starve animals, beat them, neglect them, hurt them, kill them--and they do this because they can; they can abuse animals with little fear of punishment. This is, in fact, the reality of the situation.
This story of two horses is important, because it has become a legal case. A pebble started rolling, and the pebble has become something bigger now, because this time, people who care didn't care quietly, retrospectively, in silence. This time, people raised their voices and let it be known: we care. Many voices have become one voice, and this voice is demanding justice for two animals who were found terribly ill, and terribly starved. These two animals did, for months, suffer, without relief, for long minutes of long hours of endless days. They suffered just as a human who could not speak, or seek help on their own, would have suffered. The crime remains the same.
Felony charges brought, and perhaps a conviction on those charges, if the evidence supports a conviction, and proper punishment: these things would, in this case, be justice. This is what I expect of the justice system, and what I hope you expect of the justice system as well. Prosecution, and proper punishment, for a crime committed, a provable violation of the law. In this case, a conviction will perhaps, in the immediate future, still a hand raised to hit, to inflict pain. It will, perhaps, guide a person to surrender a horse, rather than turn their back and leave him, or her, to die, slow and ugly, in a field of weeds. It will send a message: animal abuse is a crime and you will be punished. The thought, the whole concept, of animal abuse and all the horrors of animal abuse--this is too important an issue from which to stand down. Too many other lives hang in the balance.
If she doesn't get the horses back, and is barred from ever owning horses--isn't that enough?
No. For me, it's not enough. It will never be enough. A crime was allegedly committed. Those things are but the beginning of justice being served. Justice for two living creatures who did, in silence, so mightily suffer, and somehow, endure.
Director, Sunnyskies Bird & Animal Sanctuary
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