I was scrolling through Facebook and I came across the story of a Chihuahua called Chunky where three teenagers, two aged 16 and one aged 15 at the time of the offence, admitted to punching and kicking Chunky, before breaking one of his legs and neck. They then set him on fire by lighting an aerosol deodorant can, before feeding him drugs and dumping him at a rubbish tip in Margate, Kent.
Miraculously, Chunky managed to survive the ordeal. Investigations by the RSPCA revealed he was taken on 24 February, 2015 and tortured over a period of several hours before being dumped the next day. The teenagers thought Chunky was dead, and he was not discovered until the following evening by a passer-by. Chunky received the veterinary care that saved his life, however he will not be the same.
Chunky, does not trust people as much and cowers to the ground when you try to pick him up. The abuse that he went through will remain with him forever, and the dog will never be the same.
When I read the story, I was shocked and saddened by the abuse that Chunky went through. I was even more alarmed by the sentence that was handed down by the Judge. The teens received a five year ban on owning animals. But there was nothing to stop the teens from being in the same house with a dog, or working with animals. There is no central registry to prevent these teens from working with the vulnerable, there were no further education programme that they were forced to attend. In effect, the sentence was a joke.
So what is the solution? That night I started the Justice for Chunky petition which now has over 500,000 signatures from people in the UK who want an animal abuse register.
We need to stop animal abusers repeating their appalling acts of cruelty and protect defenceless animals, our companions from being abused. Animal abuse is linked closely with violence towards humans; according to the FBI Criminal Statistics Management Unit some studies say that cruelty to animals is a precursor to larger crime. There is also a link with rape, sexual homicide, domestic abuse and robbery. Notorious serial killers often have a history of animal abuse.
One 21-year study found that 70% of animal abusers later went on to commit other crimes. The study also found that 100 percent of individuals who had committed sexual homicide had a history of animal abuse.
About two-thirds of animal abusers also assaulted a person. Researchers have determined that a fascination with cruelty to animals is a red flag that may indicate that a person is a serial killer a rapist, has problems with drugs or alcohol, or even gambling. The links are there, it's time we start looking at them and protecting animals from further abuse. We must protect our companion animals, and vulnerable people.
The only way forward is developing an animal abuse register. Breeders and sellers (pet shops) of animals should be required to search a database before selling or adopting an animal to someone.
In June, I walked into a pet shop in Leeds, and without any questions was sold a kitten without any background check, identification, or even asking me if I had cared for an animal previously. Captain Cheeseburger has a great home with me, however it could have turned out differently, and I could have been someone who was buying animals to perform sick acts of cruelty on them.
At the moment there is nothing to stop an animal abuser from moving a few miles up the road and then obtaining another animal to inflict further abuse on. Stricter laws need to be implemented to help protect vulnerable defenceless animals in the future. The UK needs a central database like the US State of Tennessee where they track the names, addresses, and convictions of people who have been convicted of animal cruelty. Convicted animal abusers of companion animals are added to the register.
The support from the UK public and the world since I started my petition on Change.org has been overwhelming. No one likes to talk about animal abuse however hiding it will not help either.
One way to help is by supporting me as a Community Leader on Change.org's community forum where I talk about how we as a community can help protect animals in future. I highlight cases of animal abuse, talk about controversial subjects (include an example), and provide updates about Chunky.
We will be fundraising shortly to create merchandise to help bring animal abuse into the spotlight and highlight the importance of an animal abuse register. The money will go towards the care and future veterinary care of Chunky and abused animals. Our future plans as a group, are to open an animal sanctuary where we can help raise awareness, provide education to children and help put a stop to animal abuse.