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Animal cruelty: Humans may be next

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Two recent animal cruelty cases have shown that Massachusetts courts are serious about protecting animals from abusive or deranged humans. That’s not just a victory for humane treatment of animals, but for law enforcement generally, because animal cruelty is often a predictor of violence against humans.

Late last month, an Everett landscaper was arraigned for attempting to poison dogs by scattering antifreeze-soaked hot dogs on a lawn he had recently cut in Charlestown. And more recently, a woman in Lawrence was sentenced to three months in jail for beating her neighbor’s cat with a broomstick so severely that it had to be euthanized. These disturbing cases are among the many abuses probed by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Law Enforcement team. The organization investigated over 2,300 cases last year, and has filed criminal charges in eight cases so far this year.

Such vigilance is good for animals, pet owners, and the rest of us. In one well-known study carried out by Northeastern University, 70 percent of those who had committed crimes against animals had also been involved in other violent, property, drug, and disorderly crimes. Protecting the welfare of animals is a noble goal in itself. The fact that it does much to safeguard humans only boosts the case for continued attention to animal cruelty.

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