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‘Puppy Doe’: Policing animal cruelty

Saturday’s planned vigil in Quincy for a tortured dog, widespread discussions on social media about animal cruelty, and the posting of a reward for identifying the perpetrator leave no doubt about how the public feels about Puppy Doe, the mutilated female pit bull that was found bleeding on a city playground. Even with the loving attention of staffers at the VCA South Shore Animal Hospital, there was no humane option other than to euthanize the tortured dog.

It doesn’t require an animal lover to understand the importance of this case. Social scientists have found clear evidence linking perpetrators of animal cruelty to other forms of family violence, including child and elder abuse. And a strong link has been established between animal abuse in childhood and criminal conduct during adulthood.

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Police are investigating the possibility that the brutalized puppy was obtained by its torturer on Craigslist. That has prompted Puppy Doe’s supporters to call for an end to the exchange of animals on electronic classified advertising boards. Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster has countered with the argument that the so-called “rehoming’’ of dogs and cats by his service prevents widespread euthanizations.

The public should look to animal experts to resolve this debate. MSPCA spokesman Rob Halpin says he is “philosophically opposed’’ to such informal exchanges of animals. People who can no longer care for their pets should give them to professionally staffed animal shelters. The MSPCA has an 80 percent success rate at placing animals in new homes, Halpin said.

Adopting animals at shelters makes sense at both ends. Those seeking pets get assurances that the animals are in good health or come as advertised. And humane society workers get an opportunity to vet the new owners.

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